This Clarice review contains spoilers.
Clarice Episode 8
Clarice episode 8, “Add-a-Bead,” mirrors the procedural with the psychological. Clarice (Rebecca Breeds) lets her emotions find a safe landing place as her ViCAP unit investigates the suicide of a medical student who jumped to her death.
The opening segments of Clarice episodes are very atmospheric and color the entire installment. The glass ball in the doctor’s office reflects deep memories, and Clarice reflexively responds. Dr. Renee Li (Grace Lynn Kung) is the psychiatrist the agent chose over all the doctors which were ordered by the agency, and it is because she speaks the same language.
The work, the work, it’s all about the work. Clarice just suffered post-traumatic stress in a job where trauma is a daily occurrence, take a day off. The hypnotist is very effective. Up until this point, Clarice would jump down the throat of anyone who so much as suggested she take a coffee break. After a few minutes of crystal blue persuasion, Clarice even offers to quit the job just so she can do the work.
Agent Ardelia Mapp (Devyn Tyler) is a walking contradiction. She enjoys collecting magazines where she’s on the cover for her grandma, but reluctant to become the most visible member of an invisible workforce. Yet she throws down the article when she’s going for promotion like it is part of her resume, when all people are interested in is her DNA. Tyler makes it all seem like so much work, even when she’s getting presents from her grandmother, we feel more than an inconvenience. When an agent who graduated with her cuddles up to make her third girl on a totem pole, she grits her teeth and bears his weight. But she goes into the secret staff meeting with just as much perturbed reluctance. Tyler lets her character feel the squeeze of encroaching departmental intrusions more than Breeds.
It is nice to see Clarice smile in a way which looks like she actually appreciates it enough to distinguish it from a wince. Her psychiatrist asks if she’d like to be known and seen, rather than examined, and Clarice asks for a time out. She is beginning to identify with many different aspects of the cases, beyond the gore. She actually finds a chance to connect with an unsuspicious suspect, and Breeds allows the kind of smile which evokes a childhood crush. Clarice sees an easy place to land and the doctor points out how that might be trauma talking.
At least Agent Esquivel (Lucca De Oliveira) has a girlfriend, a medical examiner who can do quickie autopsies on the down low. This doesn’t add to his character so much as it makes the secretive part of the procedural move faster. The procedural part of the show moves steadily. The Yugoslavian woman is in the United States on a foreign visa. She is the ideal idealist. When she jumps off the bridge, she lands a little too perfectly, but the blood is picturesque. The team adds up the charges on calling cards, discusses the civil war in Yugoslavia, and deciphers Hebrew codes. The Yugoslavian medical student was pregnant, and her fetus had cranial abnormalities and missing organs. Just like the babies in the clinical trials. All roads lead to Rome.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Paul Krendler’s (Michael Cudlitz) cat-and-mouse game with Joe Hudland (Raoul Bhaneja), who is both his divorce lawyer and Clarice’s Woodhaven attacker, is beginning to get interesting. But it makes him a less interesting character. Krendler has already forsworn booze, and he’s got the most self-righteous TV offspring since Paige Jennings on The Americans or Walter Junior on Breaking Bad. The cheeseburger drive-through scene is just painful and annoying. The fight is a small screen cliché to add tension in those tiny spaces where there is none. Eat your fucking cheeseburger and go back to the checkout, you’re doing nothing to further the narrative.
Does Krendler also have to fight extortion? Let the top cop get dirty, allow him muddy up the investigation. The series can always bring him down later, if you have to, or promote him, but once he collects a DNA and joins the team, they lose an adversary and that’s bad for entertainment. It’s good for Agent Clark (Nick Sandow), the crusty old vet who’s worked with Krendler for 20 years and can’t make him out anymore. This ambiguity adds to the suspense while allowing Sandow to do what he does best, internalize confusion and personal contradiction.
“Add-a-Bead” tightens the narrative as much as it brings the team together. The case itself moves further from the Silence of the Lambs territory of serial killers to something far more monstrous. The implications of the conspiracy promises a suspenseful run, but the rabbit hole portion of the series seems to be over.
Clarice airs Thursdays at 10:00 p.m. on CBS.