Clarice, the CBS drama starring Rebecca Breeds as FBI Agent Clarice Starling, just featured a major Silence of the Lambs reunion for two pivotal characters. In episode six, “How Does It Feel to Be So Beautiful,” Starling is forced to come face to face with Buffalo Bill survivor Catherine Martin (Marnee Carpenter) during an intense dinner between the two women and Catherine’s mother, US Attorney General Ruth Martin (Jayne Atkinson), as they confront memories about what happened one year prior. Speaking with ET, Carpenter opened up about Catherine’s big episode and finally getting to share scenes with Breeds.
“It was really nice just to have humans in the room. It’s usually just me and a phone and a dog,” Carpenter says, referring to many of Catherine’s scenes leading up to this episode, where she’s locked away in her room as she deals with her trauma. “So that dinner was the first time I really was with other actors.”
And that dinner was hardly a quaint evening between friends. What played out instead was an emotional evening as Catherine confronted both Clarice, who has avoided reuniting with her despite calls for help, and Ruth, who has struggled to reconnect with her daughter in any meaningful way.
While Ruth has made attempts to bring her daughter out of hiding, she’s failed to really understand what Catherine is going through, which is the fact that “she’s not ready to be out in the world yet,” Carpenter says. She also notes that Catherine is delusional about her state; she is fully honest about where she’s at and what she looks like now.
But what that really comes down to is the fact that Catherine “feels used by her mother,” Carpenter continues, adding that Ruth really has been held accountable for controlling that narrative and parlaying the tragic events into a job promotion.
At one point, Catherine cuts deep at her mother by suggesting she would still be a junior Senator if it wasn’t for her kidnapping. “It’s pretty brutal,” Carpenter quips.
When it comes to Clarice in particular, Carpenter sees the reunion first and foremost as an opportunity for Catherine to finally get to be with someone that she really sees as being on her team and understanding her. “It’s kind of this sisterhood that, honestly, is a little unsettling and hard to face,” she says. “But at the end of the day, it’s who she has.”
But despite that allyship, Catherine has detected an avoidance on Clarice’s part. And after dinner, she challenges Clarice’s memories of the day of her rescue from Buffalo Bill, asserting she didn’t do enough to save her right away. But Clarice pushes back, suggesting that Catherine’s take may not be accurate either.
“That’s almost a slap in the face,” Carpenter says. “And, at the same time, a letdown because she’s faced with this information of, ‘Wait, is she lying to me?’ Or, ‘Does she actually not remember? Is my story wrong? Who’s wrong in this?’”
But what ends up upsetting everyone the most is Catherine’s claim that she’s found Buffalo Bill’s mother and that she wants to speak to her. It’s something that Clarice can’t wrap her head around while Ruth feels like it’s something she’ll never accomplish because she can barely step out the front door without having a panic attack.
But for Catherine, it’s a chance to get clarity. “She needs an explanation for it all,” Carpenter says. “I feel like she hasn’t gotten any help... And I feel like she thinks she can make some kind of sense of it, if she can have some answers or some reasons for why this person existed and why this happened to her.”
While audiences see Catherine make a failed attempt to leave and find Buffalo Bill’s mom, Carpenter teases this isn’t where things end for her. “Catherine’s a fighter, so definitely don’t count her out to just stay in one place,” she says.