CBS All Access
Season 1 Episode 2
Ghosts of Highway 20
Clarice Starling travels back to Appalachia with the VICAP team when a militia group begins a standoff with the federal government. To make matters worse, Krendler still doesn’t trust Starling and wants her gone after she refused to lie to the press during her first investigation. A move that makes the team question whether or not they can trust her. What’s interesting about the opening of this episode is that knowing this team either completely dismisses her, ignores her and, in the case of Krendler, is actively working against her, the narrative that she’s supposed to work to earn their trust is almost farcical.
The team heads to Tennessee to investigate a standoff and Clarice finds herself revisiting the ghosts of her past while becoming an integral part of the investigation when she’s picked by the militia leader to speak to him. After making her way into the compound, she takes a look at the living conditions as well as the mood of the people inside before talking with the leader of the group. There’s a sufficient level of tension in the scene, but nothing particularly revelatory or different.
Things get slightly more interesting when her meeting with Novak takes a turn to the personal and triggers more trauma for her. Trauma that will give him the opening he needs to take the next step in his plan. Novak has the potential to be a charismatic leader, but he comes off as another caricature of a cult leader. When the truth is finally revealed, it’s anticlimactic and frankly boring.
When Clarice finally finds out the extent of the operation she seeks the trust of Krendler to find a way to implicate those involved in it alongside Novak. Clarice decides to use her behavioral science training to manipulate Novak to get the entire operation and learns that even when you get the truth, the politics take precedent.
The second episode of Clarice had the potential to be something interesting. Unfortunately, it becomes just another police procedural that nibbles at the edges of the character without exploring her. There are some interesting moments in the episode, especially the ones that focus on Clarice, but there aren’t enough of them and the generic ending was filled with way too many clichés from the “it’s all politics” trope to the eye-rolling “I wanted you gone, now I’ve changed my mind” moment between Krendler and Clarice.