That certainly rang true.
Clarice Season 1 Episode 1 answered the question that many have been pondering since “The Silence of the Lambs” was released 30 years ago: Whatever happened to FBI trainee Clarice Starling?
In this envisioning by Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, apparently, she was still largely trapped by that night in Buffalo Bill’s house of horrors.
That only makes sense. There was no way she was ready for that event, and understandably she hadn’t processed it by the time the series opened one year later.
Unsurprisingly, Clarice had been hiding in a basement crunching crime statistics, as far from public exposure as possible.
She had been equally evasive during her mandated therapy sessions, as was evident through her verbal jousting with her therapist.
Fortunately, in the guise of U.S. Attorney General Ruth Martin, fate wouldn’t allow Clarice to continue to squander her gifts. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have this fascinating new series.
Of course, one could debate the wisdom of making Clarice relive her trauma by forcing her back into tracking serial killers.
Then again, whether Clarice likes it or not, she had become the face of the FBI when it comes to serial killers.
And after nearly losing her daughter Catherine to Buffalo Bill, Ruth was determined to catch such killers before they were able to become “serial.”
Ruth also had a secondary motive. Clarice was the only person who knew what Catherine had gone through, but Clarice had been ducking her calls. Doubtless, too many painful memories for her.
Ruth pressed Clarice to take Catherine’s calls. And later on, it became clear why, when Catherine tricked Clarice into calling her by using Ruth’s name on a message.
Despite all her mother’s resources, Catherine appeared not to have recovered at all from her torture. And Clarice, the only person who could actually relate to what Catherine was going through, was in no shape psychologically to help her.
Catherine did warn Clarice not to trust her mother, something to watch for in the future. The fact that Ruth threw Clarice back into the field against her will makes her motivation already questionable.
So how long before we find out what her secret agenda is?
It’s enjoyable to see Jayne Atkinson back at the Department of Justice as another authority figure, after her recurring role as Erin Strauss on Criminal Minds.
It was certainly ill-conceived of Ruth to have Clarice answering to Krendler, a man who already resented her for showing him up on the Buffalo Bill case, even if it was unintentional.
Also, with the series set back in 1993, the whole idea of profiling was looked at rather askance. It’s informative to compare this early version of ViCAP to the BAU on Criminal Minds when the psychology behind such analysis is widely accepted.
Krendler didn’t put much stock in Clarice’s observations, in part because he felt she had gotten lucky when it came to tracking down Buffalo Bill.
But he was savvy enough to realize that both Ruth and the press placed value on the flash of serial killers, and he was determined to hand one to them on the current case, whether the killer was serial or, as it turned out, not.
That put Clarice in a difficult situation as she was just beginning to form her killer profile based on contradictory evidence.
She made the mistake of just playing along but only once.
Then she went to work collecting facts as any good investigator would do. She was determined to make her theory fit the evidence, not the other way around.
She was fortunate to find some support during the transition period.
Ardelia, her old classmate from Quantico, served to ground her, giving her someone to be her sounding board outside of her team.
Then there was Esquivel, to whom her analysis rang true, even if he didn’t appear to be following everything she was saying. He’s Team Clarice, not Team Krendler.
Even though he was supposed to be spying on Clarice for Krendler, he was willing to follow her hunches, which paid off, in the end.
I also expect Kal Penn’s character, Tripathi, who Krendler referred to as “his library,” to bond with Clarice in time as well.
Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the backstories of the other team members as the series develops.
Even when Clarice was stuck on desk duty, thanks to her overreaching therapist, she still uncovered the link between the three victims and that it wasn’t random as originally thought.
As shaky as Clarice appeared, she was tough when she had to be, wounding rather than blowing away the hitman so that he could still testify against his employer.
She also stood up to Krendler and told the truth since he insisted on sticking her in front of the press, the last place she wanted to be.
In retrospect, Ruth made the right call sending Clarice back to work.
Even though Clarice’s moth nightmares weren’t going away any time soon, at least her unique set of investigative skills are being put to use for the betterment of society.
Will being back in the field prove beneficial for Clarice?
How long until she wins over her new team?
What is Ruth’s master plan?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.