CBS All Access
Season 1 Episode 1
The Silence Is Over
It’s been a year since Clarice Starling rescued Catherine Martin from Buffalo Bill and she is still dealing with the aftermath both personally and professionally. The first scene is a tense therapy session where Clarice is challenged on how she is processing those events and their aftermath. The scene is well acted, but series star Rebecca Breeds is laying the accent on a little too thick.
The series is definitely going for the aesthetic of Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs film in its look and tone. There are several scenes in the first few minutes that are aped from that film including the encounter with Buffalo Bill and the soundtrack.
Clarice is whisked to Washington where she is pushed into becoming a member of Attorney General Ruth Martin’s (Catherine’s mother) Violent Crimes Task Force. After receving some harsh truth from Martin about her reputation in the FBI, she is sent to work with Paul Krendler (another character from the film) and his animus towards her is in no way subtle. What’s being set up is Clarice having to prove herself to the men around her while also being the face of the team to the press. There is a lot of drama in that and it’s handled well.
The themes of misogyny and toxic masculinity are ever present in all of her interactions with her co-workers and there is a danger of making those moments heavy-handed. Things get more intense when a ghost from Clarice’s past gets in touch with her and its not who you think. The themes of PTSD come into play for both characters and I like that there wasn’t a happy ending. That there is real continued trauma for both characters that needs to be dealt with.
The investigative side of the episode is good, but it gets swallowed up by all the interpersonal drama. Clarice and her partner use their investigative skills to find the killer of three women through a connection to a potential fourth victim. Whether the killings are being done by a serial killer is the big mystery, but the truth is pretty easy to uncover and not particularly compelling.
The first episode of Clarice is a pretty solid procedural drama. It has great atmosphere and tone and there are some story elements that are interesting. It will be interesting to see if the series makes Clarice something more than her trauma going forward and some of its cliché story elements will get boring quickly, but I would watch the next episode to see how it evolves.