A year after the events of Silence of the Lambs, FBI agent Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) is sitting in the office of a police psychiatrist. The pilot episode of Clarice named ‘The Silence is Over’ builds the blocks of a woman that is dealing with the after-effects of an extremely traumatic experience. 1991’s Silence of The Lambs built its legend and circumference around characters like Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill. During the session, Clarice has various flashbacks of moths, Buffalo Bill’s music, and the horrors within his home. While the show reflects on its legendary premise (how could it not?), it reminds us that this is Clarice’s story. Someone in between waking up to nightmares and correcting someone who tries to classify her as a victim.
There’s an internal debate in which Clarice needs time off to decompress her PTSD. As the 1993 time period reveals itself, her name and face are still in sync with a singular tabloid around the Buffalo Bill murders. A spattering of visuals of her being pursued by news crews will be a theme throughout ‘The Silence Is Over.’ Even as she wants to retreat to the shield of Behavioral Sciences, it’s almost like her “celebrity” will not allow it to happen. Everybody wants to hear from the women who foiled Buffalo Bill, but more so about that case and others like it. Not so much her expertise.
It’s not that she just has internal struggles; she has them in her professional life as well. Almost immediately, she’s called upon to join the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) by U.S. Attorney General Ruth Martin (Jayne Atkinson). Ruth, the mother of lone survivor from the Buffalo Bill murders, Catherine Martin (Marnee Carpenter). She’s assigned to be a part of an investigation of a series of killings in Washington, D.C. concerning a couple of female victims. Her new co-workers are some would say terse behavior towards her. You could go further to say explicitly dismissive.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz) considers her Buffalo Bill rescue as a fluke. He constantly tries to test her, finding scenarios to trip her up in a snarky way. Fellow detectives Tomas (Lucca De Oliveira) and Shaan (Kal Penn) aren’t exactly a welcome party in themselves. Although it appears Tomas comes around later in the episode. There’s pent-up resentment that Clarice hasn’t earned the notoriety that she herself has not asked for. Even going as far as not listening to her at all, even though her leads were leading the investigation in the right direction. It’s Clarice’s warmth that ultimately helps a victim’s family lead her to essential clues.
Clarice is confronted by her trauma on two fronts – professional life withstanding. She has not spoken to Catherine since she rescued her. Thus you have a situation where she’s on a case where they could be another serial killer targeting women. Also, with a phone call from Catherine, they both are reliving the trauma they’ve experienced all over again in a fresh case. This show is definitely within the CBS crime-drama wheelhouse in terms of the graphic nature of how the crimes are shown. It follows the ‘case of the week’ structure, but also strives to add a bit of abstractness to the mix.
The specter hovering over this show is Hannibal Lecter. While the show doesn’t reference him by name at this point, his experience with Clarice still reverberates through her. There’s a lot to explore with her in the spotlight. As these crimes become more gruesome and plentiful, it might be harder for Clarice to keep it together and ignore constant reminders of what happened one year ago.
Photo Credit: CBS All Access