The addition of Starling to the VICAP team is not welcome, however. Her teammates – led by Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz) – aren’t too keen on employing her, believing that she is just a tool to make Ruth Martin look good. While she appears to have one of the men on her side (Lucca De Oliveira as Tomas Esquivel), the other two (Kal Penn as Emin Grigoryan and Nick Sandow as Murray Clarke) are a bit more suspicious. And Krendler doesn’t have it at all with Starling.
What unfolds is a procedure with a compelling overall story, set in a frightening, gruesome, and often psychological mystery. While he’s decidedly less visually inventive, erotic, and downright grotesque than NBC’s 2013 Hannibal, he feels like a spiritual brother as they both pick the scabs of what makes their protagonists human. In a dreamlike world where networks could intersect pollinators, it would be interesting to see an intersection of these two worlds adjacent to Lecter. But, at least for now, Clarice isn’t legally allowed to mention the famous cannibal in her plot (which is an inevitable but somewhat frustrating quirk of the series, given Lecter’s impact on Lecter’s life. Clarice and what she’s been through so far). So this one will have to remain a bit of a dream.
Everyone on Clarice is compelling to watch, and the episodes provided to critics have all been paced by experts. Meaning: You don’t embark on boring and mundane coptime adventures. You learn what it means to be Clarice Starling, to survive the Buffalo Bill of it all – even more than Lecter – and to be a woman in an extremely male-dominated field. Starling is not a bootlegger, she is calm and observant. But there are cracks that keep cracking, and it feels like it’s gonna be exciting to watch.
Ultimately, while she doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Clarice will leave you engaged and satisfied if you’re looking for a horror police procedure with high production value and an engaging central character. Its pilot sets the stage for a new chapter for Starling, one you’d be sure to miss if you’re a fan of Thomas Harris source material.