Secret Hideout, 2021-
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Suspenseful and intense thrillers
Mysteries or whodunnits
A television series spinoff of the 1991 film, Silence of the Lambs, Clarice features very smart but green FBI agent, Clarice Starling. While the crimes are gruesome, the series does not present a likeness of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (at least not yet), so no need to prepare for the show with a glass of Chianti. In each week of season 1, the series unveils a piece of the evolving story, which contains multiple creepy antagonists steeped in a diabolical murder conspiracy. Despite the challenges of the case, Clarice continues to be haunted by her confrontation with Buffalo Bill, the pathological villain from the movie.
Like her namesake in the film, played by Jodie Foster, Clarice has a naïve fearlessness about her that makes her very good at her job. Supporting her naivete is the character’s roots in Appalachia, which her mild southern drawl triggers with each line of her dialog. As the show reveals, this makes Clarice uniquely qualified for cases in rural geographies. And her naiveté helps her sustain a level of humility that keeps her engaged in investigations with a child-like curiosity.
Played by Rebecca Breeds (The Originals, Pretty Little Liars), Agent Starling has a special ability in profiling offenders of gruesome crimes, and once they are pinpointed, tapping into her own instincts to solve them. Consistent with the types of crimes her team investigates, the aesthetics of the show are dark. In fact, the scenes often occur in the dimly lit halls of its east coast FBI headquarters, or at night in wet and sometimes muddy conditions. The homes and buildings they visit are designed of old architecture with dark-brown, spacious interiors and a bottom-up vantage point of long, straight staircases—all adding to the frightening nature of the show’s subject matter.
Clarice’s roommate and best friend is Ardelia Mapp, a Black woman and FBI agent, played by Devyn A. Tyler (The Underground Railroad, Antebellum). Despite graduating from Quantico with top marks, she researches cold cases in isolation rather than investigating active cases with fieldwork, a prized part of the job. Mapp’s frustration with her job assignment is revealed during a conversation with Starling in which she excoriates the FBI for denying her opportunity while Starling’s gets dropped into her lap. Starling empathizes, even sympathizes with her friend but is at a loss for what to say or do. “The work,” Mapp responds in exasperation. The poignant exchange drives home statements about systemic racism and the complexity of friendship across race and region.
The show continually revisits the salience of race in the FBI, which, in real-life, has been long‑rumored to be laden with discrimination. In Episode 4, for example, a Black male security guard, also an FBI agent, invites Mapp to a meeting of The Black Coalition, a support group for Black agents in the FBI that assists in obtaining opportunities in the Bureau. While she respectfully declines, asserting, “it’s not for me,” the frank exchange makes it clear that the show is not shying away from the hard realities of being Black in the Bureau.
Lucca De Oliveira (Seal Team, The Punisher) plays Tomas, a young, military-trained sniper and Hispanic member of Clarice’s team. Showing strength in courage, he befriends and partners with Clarice when she is dismissed and admonished by her boss and deals with pranks by other FBI agents. Her no‑nonsense and reserved boss, played by Michael Cudlitz (Southland, The Walking Dead), surprises Clarice and the audience, though, at every turn. Initially resistant to her joining his team, his trust of her instincts, and her hope of his fair treatment, grows as the series moves on.
For viewers who love crime mysteries shrouded in dark aesthetics, with smart, racially, ethnically, and regionally diverse characters and relationships, this is a series you might enjoy. Just don’t expect Hannibal Lecter to be lurking around.