‘Clarice’ Star Marnee Carpenter Takes Us Inside Catherine, Ruth & Clarice’s Uncomfortable Dinner
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Clarice Episode 6, “How Does It Feel to Be So Beautiful.”]
FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Rebecca Breeds) can no longer put off speaking with Catherine Martin (Marnee Carpenter), the victim she saved from serial killer Buffalo Bill, in the April 1 episode. And what ensues at the dinner that Catherine’s mother Ruth (Jayne Atkinson) puts together makes you either want to get out the popcorn or look away in discomfort. (What’s worse: the scraping of the utensils against the plate or the sound of the yogurt being opened?)
During the evening, Catherine realizes Clarice doesn’t remember everything that happened when she saved her. Clarice thinks she called it in immediately after she shot Bill, but really, she sat crying as Catherine yelled from the well.
Carpenter takes us inside that dinner and Catherine’s head.
Where’s Catherine’s head at the end of this episode?
Marnee Carpenter: She’s feeling let down. She felt like Clarice was going to have her back [instead of telling her not to go see Bill’s mother]. She thinks she has this great idea that she’s really impassioned by and she feels like it’s right in the vein of what Clarice goes for in her everyday life and to be given almost a completely adverse reaction to it is a little surprising. She’s [thinking], “If I don’t have anyone on my side, what do I have to lose?”
How did Catherine think seeing and speaking with Bill’s mom might change her?
It’s about facing and also understanding this particular trauma and what she went through. It’s obviously very difficult to wrap our heads around trauma in general, and from Catherine’s viewpoint and gut feelings, she wants to know the truth more than anything else. It’s not so much about hating Bill. It’s wanting to know why he did the things he did and also in some way having someone take responsibility for it.
Did she think if she had a goal, somewhere to go that might help her, that she would be able to leave?
I don’t think we know. At this point, what is going to be such a driving factor that to push her all the way and to [give her] enough confidence to rip off the Band-aid and go, no matter what it feels like?
Will Bill’s mom factor into Catherine’s storyline this season?
You’ll have to see who I meet up with.
Catherine realized Clarice didn’t remember everything from that day. How does hearing and seeing that she’s not the only one who was traumatized by Bill affect Catherine?
It’s not feeling alone in it. She’s hoping someone else can get a little bit closer to understanding her. There’s such a big disconnect with her mother, Ruth, that she feels like she doesn’t have anyone to talk to about this. And the only person that could is Clarice, so she’s holding out that that connection is available to her.
Ruth and Catherine may have started talking about everything they need to with Catherine bringing up how her mom benefited from her trauma.
I think Catherine really feels like her story was used. Suddenly she’s just another political play in her mom’s playbook. What’s more heartbreaking than that, to feel like the only person that’s left in your family doesn’t have your back? She sees it as, “Mom’s only about her career. She’s so fixated on me being better and not a problem that she can’t just check in to see what’s actually going on with me. Not only is she not there for me, but it’s also feeling really vindictive.”
Ruth talks about Catherine falling in love with what happened to her and making everyone relive it. She’s known being trapped and has now sort of trapped herself in the penthouse and even with her meals.
She just doesn’t feel like she really has any constructive support so the safety net is staying home. Obviously she was abducted, so there’s that very realistic fear of that happening again. If this trauma didn’t happen to her, I see her still [being] a very confident, self-aware person and I think it’s a big shock [to someone] who feels self-confident to have that ripped out from underneath you. She feels like it can happen to her again at any point. A lot of her freedom’s taken away, and I don’t think she’s gotten the right help.
Is she ready for therapy?
Yeah, she’s screaming for it, not in so many words. She’s definitely showing that she’s not doing great and her situation isn’t helping her any. And she’s constantly seeking the truth, which I really admire about her. She is up to facing it. That’s the first step of being aware you need help — facing what happened to you — and I don’t see her, as afraid as she is of the world, avoiding the trauma.
Talk about filming that dinner scene? Every moment was geared towards building the tension and discomfort.
As an actor, it’s just enjoyable to build something like that with two other powerhouse women where all of us are coming from almost three different worlds and driving hard all the way forward. To be able to play that with Rebecca and Jayne was a blast and honestly funny at points. We opened that yogurt quite a few times and almost got some big laughs out of it because there’s a lot of sound that goes into it that was not added — that was all very much part of it. So a lot of it is living in that silence and seeing what happens during those big pockets of silence, which is fun to play with.
Is keeping Precious doing Catherine more good or harm?
Good, from my perspective and Catherine’s. I know folks think it’s an odd choice, given her trauma, but I think it’s kind of her own ally at this point, as sad as that is. She feels like Precious didn’t choose this any more than [she] did and Precious deserved an out, too. In the Thomas Harris novel, it’s alluded to that Precious is going to be taken to the shelter and Catherine already has decided that she wants to take her home and she’s going to make her mother go pick her up at the shelter. I love that. It’s not the dog’s fault, and we can give her a good life. They definitely have a bond, so it’s a good little pocket of safety for both of them.
What else will we see with Catherine this season?
She’s not one to be limited, so she’s still the fighter she was in the film. Don’t count her out. We’ve got some things to show you.
Will we see her interacting with other characters?
We’re going to move beyond Ruth, but I’m not going to say any more than that.
Clarice, Thursdays, 10/9c, CBS