[Header Image: Rebecca Breeds as Clarice Starling | CBS]
The first season of Clarice is a promising start. It manages to use what has been set up by 1991 The Silence of the Lambs movie while also doing its own thing which helps it to fit in with this universe without feeling repetitive. At no point does it feel like the movie is being erased or completely rewritten which makes this show even more enjoyable.
With that being said, you should have at least seen the Silence of the Lambs (1991) before watching this. It isn’t entirely necessary in order to enjoy Clarice but it will be much easier to understand references made to the events of that movie as well as what certain characters are going through. It’s also just a fantastic movie in general so really, there’s no harm in giving it a watch anyway.
The series follows Clarice Starling as she finally returns to the field after the events surrounding Buffalo Bill. She’s assigned to the VICAP task force to help solve a case involving two bodies that have washed up on the Anacostia river with signs pointing to a possible serial killer. The series mainly follows that particular crime but occasionally delves into other cases the VICAP team are assigned to.
While the title role is once again played by a new actress (Rebecca Breeds) in Clarice, it is done so well — both in terms of the writing and acting — that the transition from Jodie Foster’s version in the 1991 movie to this one isn’t too jarring. We also get to see Clarice Starling at a time when she’s not long finished the case of Buffalo Bill and is dealing with PTSD as a result. We really get to dive in deep with her and discover more about her personal life (particularly her childhood) along the way. Again, nothing is written over or ignored from the movie but instead, the show expands on what we already know and it works so well.
We also get to see more of Clarice’s flaws. She is not set up as this perfect person or simply as a hero for the things she did in the movie. While some do see her that way, others resent her for her actions and success. She often shies away from what happened and the praise that comes with it. The fallout of what happened with Buffalo Bill and her actions in that investigation are explored not just through her but through other characters as well. As Clarice navigates life post-Buffalo Bill we see her try to become more of a team player and also learn more about her past.
Clarice is an enjoyable ride and the pacing is fairly consistent. There’s always something happening but while there’s constant progression within the story, it never feels like anything is being rushed. Despite it, of course, being about the titular character, we get the opportunity to know all the other characters as well. No two are the same which makes each one interesting to watch. Some of them have a direct connection to Clarice (and the Buffalo Bill case) but as the season progresses, we discover more about them outside of that. There’s definitely evidence of the world set-up expanding to accommodate the other characters so that there’s more to invest in than simply Clarice and her past.
Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after one season. I will say, however, that it’s still worth checking out. There are no huge cliffhangers and the main crime/investigation does come to a close with all the loose ends tied up. At most, we’re left with a change in Clarice’s life that most likely would have been explored further in season two. It feels more like an open ending than an unresolved one making this first season an enjoyable and satisfying watch despite the show as a whole coming to a premature end.
The biggest shame is that this season felt like a good starting point. This version of Clarice is slowly established as are the lives of other characters (both familiar and new) and the storyline helps to transition the audience from the events of The Silence of the Lambs to this new chapter in the story.