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Clarice - Motherless Child - Review

9 Jun 2021

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First let me just apologize for something I wrote in the previous Clarice review, as I stated it was the penultimate episode of the first season. I had not seen any episodes added to Google episode list or Clarice's Wikapedia page when I wrote the last review, nor did SpoilerTV have future episode press releases. As it turns out there are 13 episodes (thank goodness, because I really wasn't sure how they would wrap some things up with just an episode left) and I made a mistake. 

With that said the tenth episode of Clarice is not an episode that advances the main murder river plot, but rather let's the subplot with Catherine's reconciliation with what happened with Buffalo Bill shine. For the entire first season both Clarice and Catherine have struggled in different ways with what happened before the events of the tv series. For Clarice, it's been a journey about unraveling the truth behind her own family, particularly her father (and mother). But for Catherine it's been about deep isolation and a fear to even go outside her mother's lavish residence, at least until episode nine when she left to confront an ex fiance`. But it's been no secret that Catherine is on the hunt for Buffalo Bill's mother and finally she has found her in New Jersey!

At first Catherine poses as a young women wanting to join Lila Gumb's bingo game, asking Lily how to play, before following her home, getting into a skirmish, causing Lila to fall down and hit her head, as Catherine drags her in the house and tries to attend to her wounds, hoping she is still alive.

Clarice gets word that Catherine has gone missing and is forced to finally tell Ruth what Catherine's plans have been, which of course Clarice gets a bit of a thrashing for. Clarice says she thinks she can find Catherine and Lila Gumb, but she will have to go looking back through the case evidence, something she's not too enthusiastic about doing. Clarice also attempts to get Adrelia to help her, but Adrelia insists she can't, because she's about ready to proceed with her case against the bureau...

In the meantime agents Esquivel and Clarke continue to work with the reluctant Julia Lawson on the river murders case. At first is seems like Clarke has a problem with Julia's trans identity and eventually Julia calls him out on it, but ultimately that doesn't seem to be the case at all, as Clarke explains what happened to his sister. He explains that he was wondering if Julia's hair color was natural or dyed, because his sister use to dye her hair that color, but they quit making it, and he wondered if it had come back again. Feeling bad about falsely accusing him, she tells him that it is her natural color.

There is not a lot of action that happens by the time Clarice is able to find Catherine and Lila and Lila's current residence, after Lila has woken up and the two have had a couple of stand offs with Catherine now the one holding Lila at gunpoint. But that doesn't make the exchanges between Lila and Catherine and the juxtaposing scenes between Ruth and Paul Krendler any less tense.

Catherine went searching for answers, and although Clarice intervene and Lila begins to explain what happened to James and how James' father had left her, how James was taken away from her  and then raised by her parents...there is nothing much that satisfies Catherine, as Clarice keeps repeating that James is just something that happened, not something that was necessarily made by an event or a seriously abusive parent.

Clarice is able to get Catherine to stop and she calls Ruth before handing Catherine over to the local police, explaining to Ruth that she feels that Catherine needs to understand that there are consequences to her actions.

Clarice then goes to pay a visit to her therapist Dr. Li, pushing her again to think about her mother, a mother who seemed angry and eventually abandoned her, but not her other siblings, when her father died. She recalls the night that her mother was fighting with him and he picked her up and took her out for coke-floats. Clarice continues to idealize her father, until she suddenly remembers that he stopped the car, left her alone inside, while he went to see some men...

While the episode wasn't an action heavy or a very plot-advancing episode, it was really quite intense. I most particularity enjoyed Paul's and Ruth's discussion about thee unnamed cannibal & Clarice, almost as if Clarice was their daughter. It was an interesting paternal window into a more intimate relationship we hadn't really seen and I'm still so curious as to why Hannibal continues to loom as a point of interest in show's overall development.

Speaking of, food was of course featured again. This time in the form of a homemade chocolate cake Lily won from Bingo night. For a moment I thought maybe she and Catherine might end the episode sitting down eating it together, since Lily seemed to understand why Catherine had come and hadn't called the police on her own. But the way the episode fixates on her eating alone does make me wonder, if there is more to it? If she did seriously lie about something?? I just get an impression that things might not really be settled yet and I kind of found the cake-eating scene a little off-putting to disturbing.

As for Clarice's choice to turn over Catherine, I feel uncertain about that too. It's not that her reasons were not rational, but with the FBI and Clarice's role in it about to be turned upside down by The Coalition's case, I feel like Clarice won't be able to protect Catherine, Catherine will become more unstable, and that Catherine might be made an example of, as the FBI may try to pin it all on the Attorney General. On the other hand, however, it won't look like nepotism, but still, is this good for Catherine? Is Catherine stronger than we think? 

"Krendler was the icon of failure and frustration. He could be blamed. But could he be defied? Or was Krendler, and every other authority taboo, empowered to box Starling into what was, in Dr. Lecter's view, her little-low-ceiling life? To him one hopeful sign: though she was imprinted with the badge, she could still shoot a hole through one and kill the wearer. Why? Because she had committed to action and identified the wearer as a criminal and made the judgement ahead of time, overruling the imprinted icon of the star. Potential flexibility. The cerebral cortex rules." - Hannibal, Pgs 510 & 511

Clarice's memory-revelation is also a curious one. As mentioned on previous reviews, having siblings and her mother alive after her father's death is a serious deviation from the books' [Clarice] backstory, but adding this association of these men and suggesting her father was doing something less than lawful, is an interesting twist to play with, especially because despite that Hannibal eventually takes credit for changing Clarice, he also completely admits he could not control her.

"He could feed the caterpillar, he could whisper through the chrysalis; what hatched out followed its own nature and was beyond him."

Part of his manipulation was trying to undo how Clarice's perceived him, getting underneath a pattern--the symbol of justice and Sheriff's star could not really be pierced, no matter how Hannibal tied. It does also suggest that perhaps Hannibal did know some of her father's flaws, despite that Hannibal novel never explicitly says what they are, only that Clarice's resentments are based on the fact that he left her behind. So whatever is going to get revealed here might an interesting choice (although I can see this being a bit of misdirection too)--and I'm curious if it will also draw more parallels between Hannibal and Clarice, since the writers insist on keeping him alive.

So what did you think? Enjoy the episode? Any theories about how things might go down over the next three episodes? Do you think the tables will turn and Clarice could maybe get saved by Catherine Martin, instead of the other way around? And where the heck is Tripath??? Sound off in the comments below!