Clarice season 2 may not happen although The Silence of the Lambs spinoff has not been officially canceled. Produced by Alex Kurtzman and starring Rebecca Breeds as FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling, the mystery thriller was set in 1993, one year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice season 1 set Starling on a new path to discover the truth behind several murders, which eventually leads her to uncover a vast and truly horrible conspiracy. Along the way, Clarice also unearths deep secrets about her family, upending the way she sees her father and laying the foundations for Clarice season 2.
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Clarice was recruited by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Apprehension Program (ViCAP) because of her expertise in hunting serial killers. When Starling uncovers an apparent string of serial murders, she deduces that it wasn’t the work of a serial killer, but rather a complex conspiracy involving pregnant women who were murdered for speaking out against a powerful pharmaceutical company. Despite tensions with ViCAP’s director, Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz), Attorney General Ruth Martin (Jayne Atkinson), and her own teammates, Clarice bravely pursues the truth with the help of her best friend, Ardelia Mapp (Devyn A. Tyler). Clarice eventually uncovers the plot concocted by Alastor Pharmaceuticals’ billionaire owner, Nils Hagen (Peter McRobbie), and his son, Tyson Conway (Douglas Smith).
Related: What Clarice Reveals That Silence Of The Lambs Didn’t
Despite Clarice’s Silence of the Lambs pedigree, the series struggled to deliver ratings on CBS. Now, a behind-the-scenes conflict between the show’s production companies looks to prevent Clarice from getting a season 2. Here’s everything we know about why Clarice’s future is uncertain.
Clarice Season 2 Cancelation Update
While Clarice has not officially been canceled, it will not return to CBS in fall 2021. Clarice was the lowest-rated and least-watched show on the network -but did solid numbers streaming on Paramount+. Deadline reported that on May 14, Clarice was part of a deal that would bring Seal Team and Evil to become Paramount+ exclusives, but The Silence of the Lambs spinoff wasn’t officially announced as jumping to the streaming service. The reasons why appear to be a financial dispute between CBS Studios/Paramount+ and MGM Studios, which co-produce Clarice.
In May, MGM Studios, which was announced to be in the process of being acquired by Amazon, walked away from the negotiating table, effectively killing Clarice’s prospects of moving to Paramount+. The issues between CBS/Paramount and MGM reportedly involve the latter balking at a lesser deal in financing the series, Paramount+ asking for a reduced episode count, and the complication that Clarice becoming a Paramount+ exclusive prevents it from seeking an off-network streaming deal (such as Clarice being made available on Amazon Prime or Hulu). While a last-minute deal could be reached to save Clarice, there haven’t been any reported breakthroughs in negotiations, so Clarice may be permanently silenced.
What Clarice Season 2’s Story Could Be About
Clarice spent season 1 moving Agent Starling past the two serial killers she is indelibly associated with, Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter. For legal reasons, Hannibal is never seen and only fleetingly mentioned on Clarice, so the show focused on Starling coping with her lingering trauma over Buffalo Bill. In addition, Clarice used Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs novel as a springboard to expand Starling’s backstory, creating a family life more complicated than she revealed to Lecter.
Related: Clarice: Every Hannibal Lecter Easter Egg So Far
Notably, the series also shows how Starling built her self-image based upon false heroic memories of her dead father, and Clarice was repressing memories of his sins. Clarice season 2 would likely examine what this startling self-discovery would mean for Starling going forward, potentially tackling everything Hannibal didn’t know about Clarice Starling. Clarice also had tumultuous working relationships with ViCAP, whose respect and trust she eventually earned, as well as with Attorney General Ruth Martin and her daughter, Catherine (Marnee Carpenter), the traumatized last victim and survivor of Buffalo Bill. With the season 1 conspiracy solved by Agent Starling and ViCAP, there would be a new mystery to tackle in Clarice season 2, if it happens.
How Clarice Could Fix Season 2
Clarice season 2 could greatly improve upon the first season by taking a cue from Thomas Harris and embracing the transgressive nature of the source material – both the novel and the seminal thriller film. Clarice is yet to do something truly remarkable with Rebecca Breeds’ well-rounded portrayal of the titular behavioral scientist, whose talents seem wasted in what feels like an ordinary police procedural. One of the things that made Silence of the Lambs great is how Hannibal Lecter and Clarice used each other to great effect, leading to the capture of one serial killer while freeing another, and such stakes simply weren’t present in Clarice season 1. Though Clarice does explore morally gray choices, it is mostly a clear-cut battle between good and evil. The mystery was fine, but it’s going to take much more than a fairly good detective story to follow in the footsteps of Silence of the Lambs.
Clarice season 2 would work better if the series somehow gets over the hurdle of being legally unable to use or even just refer to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the most interesting character in the franchise. With all the contractual trouble and different streaming networks rumored to be involved in a potential second season, there’s a chance this hurdle could disappear – though casting Hannibal Lecter comes with its own risks. This would undoubtedly lead to comparisons between Clarice and Hannibal, the Mads Mikkelsen-starred series which already cleverly pits Dr. Lecter against another brilliant detective, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), instead of Clarice. If Hannibal interacts with Clarice in season 2, it needs to be starkly different from Hannibal and Will Graham’s relationship. With Hannibal still at large, there are an infinite number of ways for Clarice season 2 to use the character in order to cultivate a truly transgressive plot, atmosphere, and tone, even if Hannibal is just a telephone voiceover.
Clarice season 2 needs to drastically shift its gears in order to get the green light and prevent another disappointment to long-time watchers of Silence of the Lambs, and this boils down to returning to its transgressive roots. Even without Hannibal himself, there is ample room for Clarice to cross paths with another villain who can force the behavioral scientist to question her own morality – Clarice’s next Hannibal Lecter. While this would entail both a brilliant new story and new cast members that can actually share the spotlight with Rebecca Breeds, that might be easier and less expensive than digitally de-aging Anthony Hopkins to reprise his iconic role. Should Clarice season 2 end up in the hands of a streaming service other than CBS, there could potentially be more room for Clarice to explore unexpected and transgressive approaches to the classic detective story – the only way to save it from development hell.
Next: Clarice Vs. Hannibal: Which Silence Of The Lambs Spinoff Is Better
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About The Author
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John Orquiola is a Features staff writer and interviewer who has been with Screen Rant for five years. He began as a director’s assistant on various independent films. As a lover of film and film theory, John wrote humorous movie reviews on his blog, Back of the Head, which got him noticed by Screen Rant. John happily became the Star Trek guy at Screen Rant and he leads Feature coverage of the various Star Trek series, but he also writes about a wide range of subjects from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Cobra Kai. His other great nerdy love is British TV series like The Crown, Downton Abbey, and Killing Eve. John can be found on Twitter @BackoftheHead if you want to see photos of the food he eats.
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