The makeup of this team, with Clarice as the only female member, is a fitting nod to what made Harris’s initial characterization of this character so unique. As a young woman who grew up working class in a rural environment – a different identity than so many other FBI agents – she was able to spot things they didn’t have. The first three episodes of the series, “The Silence is Over”, “Ghosts of Highway 20” and “Are You Alright?”, Are part of it. A scene in “The Silence is Finished” in which Clarice uses the clues left by the body of a female victim to create a portrait of her is a continuation of what “The Silence of the Lambs” did so well, while its connection with women and children are at the center of “Ghosts of Highway 20”, in which the team travels to a separatist compound to defuse a hostage crisis with a fringe militia. And Clarice’s friendship with Ardelia receives special attention, allowing Ardelia to become more of an autonomous character in its own right. A file folder that Ardelia carries that has a “The People I Send To Hell” written on it is a bit ugly, but effective in setting the character’s priorities.
On a larger scale, however, “Clarice” is needlessly too complicated from the start. The series tries to tell two stories, with one narration about Clarice’s trauma, her forced encounters with a hostile therapist and her tendency to mix her current reality with her memories of the shooting with Bill in her basement, and the other . about the episodic cases VICAP is investigating, such as this secessionist leader and possible corruption in the Baltimore Police Department. They don’t quite freeze, and the issue isn’t just overly torturous writing and an incomparable main mystery, but the overall characterization of Clarice and the performance of Breeds. Maybe it’s the show’s over-reliance on flashbacks and fantasy sequences, but Clarice these days feels empty, as Breeds goes through moves of deep psychological agony rather than actually communicating them. His Clarice eats a lot of candy, works a lot on heavy metal, and defies Krendler’s direct orders. But you don’t understand what drives her every day, or what still hates her confrontation with Bill.
“Clarice” recreates the nightmarish images of a show like “Hannibal”, with a fantastic sequence where Clarice imagines the hand of a woman emerging from the thorax of a death moth, many glimpses in the labor room of Buffalo Bill, with his sewing machine sewn together human flesh, and flashbacks to Catherine’s screams coming from the bottom of a dry well. Yet these images are so remote from their impact, and so overused, that they irritate in their repetition rather than enlightenment. And because Breeds doesn’t bring much lived-in depth to his Clarice, the series’ continued referencing of the events of the film – and Foster’s performance within it – does him a disservice.