The aftermath of the Buffalo Bill fiasco is imminent.
Clarice, CBS ‘sequel to Silence of the Lambs, premiered Thursday and took stock of the life of FBI agent Clarice Starling a year after the events of the Oscar-winning Jonathan Demme film. While her life has been one hell of a cocktail made up of part media circus and part PTSD, Starling (portrayed this time by Rebecca Breeds of The Originals) seems to have mostly kept herself in check … but she’s about to throw down another gruesome rabbit hole.
“I thought it was done. Buffalo Bill took seven women with him. He skinned six … six of them. I saved one. The last. Catherine. “
We begin as flies on the wall of Clarice’s mandated therapy session in which she and a doctor discuss how media attention has affected her life and job. The psychiatrist inquires about her relationship with Catherine Martin and mentions how her last “therapist” was criminally insane and ate his patients (this series is legally bound to say the H word). When he tries to break into Clarice’s relationship with Anthony Hopkins’ ex-madman, her defense skills change. He suggests that she not stay on rotation until she can be cured of her PTSD, but before she can disprove, her session is suspended. Ruth Martin, the US Attorney General, asked Starling to be present on an urgent matter.
Martin tells Starling that two dead women with multiple stab wounds drifted down a river. The AG thinks it’s a serial killer. She wants Starling in this case so that no family has to suffer as much as she did when Catherine was kidnapped. Clarice’s reputation for hunting monsters precedes her, so Martin makes Starling a special agent for the task force. Martin warns that Paul Krendler, the head of the team, may still have a stab in his hand because Starling shows him up in the Bill case. Martin also asks Clarice to return her daughter’s calls; The damaged girl believes that Starling is the only one who can help her.
Clarice comes on stage and Krendler doesn’t want anything to do with her. He calls it Martin’s “drop of honey” for the press. He tries to get the case closed neatly and quickly to make it clear that Clarice should say and do exactly what he tells her (and confirms that he’s a male chauvinistic idiot). The bodies in question have strange bite marks, the Clarice notes are flat and spread out. “There’s no intimacy here, no frenzy,” she tells the team. She doesn’t think the killer is a true serial killer. “It’s too controlled, too healthy.” Krendler doesn’t want to hear it. He immediately throws her before the press like a lamb to be slaughtered, urging her to confirm the serial killer story.
Clarice and Agent Tomas Esquivel interview one of the victim’s husband. Angela Byrd’s distraught husband isn’t very helpful, but they find out that his older son has autism. They hunt down the next of kin of the other victim, a junkie who tells them that their mother has taken custody of their child who ended up in “this learning place, the place for crazy children who have to be fed through a tube” . It turns out that both victims have connections with children with special needs. When they report their results to Krendler, he assigns Clarice to a desk.
Meanwhile, Clarice returns a message from Catherine. The young woman is completely disturbed and tells Clarice that she will never feel safe. She asks Clarice if she can sleep. “… or do moths wake you up?” Catherine wonders how Clarice can be out there, to which Clarice replies that they are different people. Catherine counters, says they are exactly alike, and cryptically warns her not to trust her mother Ruth.
A new victim is found and Esquivel learns that the woman had a daughter with severe facial deformities. The agents then discover that Angela Boyd was in a clinical trial for migraines and many of the participating female children were found to be “mixed up in different ways.” Clarice finds a pile of papers that Angela has hidden with a number for a journalist named Rebecca, who wrote a piece about the trial. Angela had reached the other women and they were all ready to whistle.
Clarice and Esquivel go to the journalist’s house and find an unmarked vehicle outside, which they immediately defend. The killer is already in the house! Esquivel finds the journalist in the bathtub shortly before death, her wrists slashed, but the killer immediately assaults him from behind. He tries to stab the attacker with a broken mirror, but the guy takes off. Clarice follows the perpetrator, who chokes her and throws her on a table. A scuffle ensues that ends with three bullets in the man’s chest.
“You have no idea what this is,” the guy mumbles, but he won’t talk until he gets a deal. When the journalist is wheeled into an ambulance, Clarice confirms that the women in the trial were all about to talk. When Clarice tells Krendler that the killer was hired to kill whistleblowers, he asks if she can prove it. She can’t yet … He wants her to tell the press that they caught the serial killer. He says they’ll investigate the conspiracy angle without her, but he tells her to get out there and tell the lies he fed her.
Clarice then tells the press the truth: that the women died trying to tell a story. “You weren’t a random serial killer,” she confirms, “and I’ll be here until we close the book.”
What do you think of the Hannibal-free premiere of Clarice? Rate the episode below, then sound out in the comments!