Monday, February 15, 2021

Clarice - The Silence is Over

Clarice attempts to tap into the legacy of The Silence of the Lambs with a new series centered around FBI Agent Clarice Starling. Set one year after the events of the film (which the show gives us glimpses of in its recreations), the once-promising career of Starling (now played by Rebecca Breeds) has stalled. Kept out of the field by a psychologist unable to understand what she went through and a paparazzi unwilling to offer her peace, Starling has spent last year tucked away in the Behavioral Science wing far from any action. All that changes when Senator Ruth Martin (Jayne Atkinson), the mother of the victim (Marnee Carpenter) Clarice saved, uses her political will to pull Clarice out of hiding to help in the investigation of a new killer.

One episode in, the series offers a couple of rather large flaws. The first, being a poor substitute for the film, was a given. It's telling that sequences which director Maja Vrvilo takes the most time with are all the flashback recreations of events from the film. There's an obvious reverence for the source material, and I'm not opposed to the idea of seeing what happened to Starling. However, one episode in, I'm not sure whether the creators of the show like Clarice or the FBI who they have decided to pit against each other as one the pillars for the series.

The other major flaw of the series is the overwhelming amount of mansplaining and associated behaviors directed at Starling for daring to be smart enough to catch a serial killer and thinking on her own. Adding Starling to an all-male team led by an investigator (Michael Cudlitz) jealous of her accomplishments, leery of behavioral science, and incapable of seeing her usefulness (other than as a tool to feed questionable information to the press) sets up the inevitable situation of Clarice fighting the system while also working the case. While I'm not opposed to a series focused on showcasing the inequalities towards women within the Federal Government, a spin-off seeking to be first and foremost a criminal thriller doesn't necessarily lend itself to do more the cover the topic in the most cursory and cliched way possible.

The only friends Clarice has on her side are one member (Lucca De Oliveira) of the team open to her methods and her old friend Ardelia Mapp (now played by Devyn A. Tyler). The main focus, other than to reintroduce Clarice and the PTSD she's been struggling with for a year since catching Buffalo Bill, is to use the first episode to push the character into finding her voice again and not choosing to go with the company line about the new killer when she knows the team is on the wrong track or is feeding the press incorrect platitudes to handle the situation. As to the killings, the reveal of an assassin rather than a serial killer proves to be anti-climactic but I guess we'll see where the investigation goes from here (especially after Clarice defies her direct orders about what to tell the press about the crimes).

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