Did anyone catch The Killing on Sunday? Because apparently, it’s finale was more offensive than The Sopranos, Lost and the Holocaust all rolled into one.
What was it about the finale that ripped the internet in twain? It was a few things, actually. So let’s see if we can’t make some sense out of it before we burn AMC to the ground, rape its women and take its children as slaves. If the show had one root problem from which all others stemmed, I’d have to say it was its pacing. Creator Veena Sud sold this show as an “anti-police procedural,” even though what we were getting was really a police procedural stretched out over 13 episodes. And, on paper, that’s okay. Police procedurals can be good. Look at Hill Street Blues or NYPD Blue. But while these shows usually take an hour to show a pair of detectives gathering evidence and chasing suspects before finally catching their man, The Killing took weeks to do the same thing. And this, as the internet has told us, is unacceptable.
You could be charitable and call that a slow burn, but even that wasn’t what hurt the show. It was the fact that when Linden and Holder were chasing down Bennet, or interrogating Rosie’s friends at school, that’s all they were doing. I’d say that for the first two thirds of the season, the show seemed like it was capable of doing only one thing at a time. The pacing felt clunky, and when we saw things like Stan putting Bennet in the hospital — where he presumably dropped off the face of the planet before popping up briefly in Sunday’s finale — the story felt disjointed. And because it looks like neither Rosie’s friends nor Bennet had anything to do with Rosie’s death, it feels like the show was just wasting time, fooling us with one red herring after the next before pulling it away and saying, “Nope, wrong again! What about this one?”
It seems like many people were ready to forgive the show these indiscretions, as long as the finale brought the investigation to a satisfying conclusion. Instead, things became even more complicated when we saw Holder working with some shadowy, unknown figure, framing Richmond for Rosie’s murder. Sure, it was unexpected, and I don’t know if I like the idea of Holder as one of the bad guys, but I don’t have a problem with the show stretching the story out over multiple seasons. As far as I can tell, neither AMC nor Sud ever said that the finale would see the case closed. I can see why people were led to believe it would, and I’m pretty sure the Danish series wrapped things up in its first season. But regardless of whether or not the promise of resolution was real or imagined, that’s what people wanted. And they’re right pissed that they didn’t get it.
What could the show do to make things better next season? Well, since you asked…
1. Change things up. ”I’ll Let You Know When I Get There” and “Missing” were two of the season’s best episodes, and worked even better right next to each other. What it showed us was that the show was capable of multitasking. One week it was investigating Belko and giving us a look at a side of the Larsens we had never seen before, and the next we saw Linden and Holder develop their relationship while looking for Jack. We didn’t spend four episodes stuck dealing with Bennet and the FBI. It gave us a sense of forward momentum where other episodes felt stagnant.
2. No more crooked politicians. So Richmond’s dead (or is he???), and I can’t say that I really care. There were short, fleeting moments in which the whole campaign side of the show was interesting, but it mostly held things back. And really, do we need another story about a politician/businessman killing a hooker?
3. No more FBI. No more Muslim extremists. One of the greatest things about the show was its moody setting. All that dark and rain seemed to bring the show’s focus in and make it more personal. The FBI investigation ruined that, and turned the show into more of a big picture affair. Things worked best when it was just Linden and Holder.
4. Ditch the “1 episode = 1 day” format. It’s good, but mostly bad. On the one hand, it gives us episodes like “Missing,” in which Linden and Holder are free to spend an entire day driving around while they’re waiting on a warrant. On the other hand, we were forced to watch Mitch Larsen grieve for thirteen weeks, and were never really able to explore her as a character. It was interesting at first, and a good piece of acting, but turned into the biggest pain as the season went on. It’s a shame, too, because Michelle Forbes is a great actress and would have been game for anything the show could have thrown at her. I think the format also works against the show’s pacing. People seem to get an awful lot done in a single day, until they’re waiting around for a warrant.
Will The Killing get its act together before next season? Maybe. Maybe not. Veena Sud seems like a person who’s completely convinced that her work is groundbreaking and beloved by all. Part of that may be delusional. Part of it may be what every producer says about their work. And the fact that she didn’t listen to any outside criticism and work the show accordingly isn’t necessarily her fault. Most of the time, a season of whatever you’re watching on cable is in the can before it ever airs. So there’s rarely ever a chance to course correct. Before the writing staff gets together to start hammering out season 2, she’ll hopefully be able to weed through the backlash, ignore the BS about AMC’s damaged brand and how The Killing’s first season was one of the worst in TV history, and find a way to fix the legitmate problems everyone agrees were there.
Just a few quick thoughts on the finale itself…
Part of me thinks the reason they’re extending this story into next season is so they won’t have to recast the entire show. If they continue with the format, I hope things pick up a little into the future, so characters like Stan and Mitch will have had some time to put Rosie’s death behind them, and do a little more than mope around all season.
I thought Rick had put the kibosh on their relationship, but at the end of the episode we see Linden and Jack heading off to Sonoma. Does this mean we’re going to get more “will they or won’t they” episodes next season? I really hope not.
I understand the death of your child is a traumatic thing, but what the hell kind of sense does it make to deal with that by leaving the rest of your family? Mitch tells Stan that everything about their home hurts her. Does that include Stan and the boys? If she can’t bear to live in the apartment anymore, WHY DOESN’T STAN JUST SAY THAT HE BOUGHT HER A HOUSE? I understand characters not sharing information because it moves the story forward, but Stan and Mitch need to back that truck up. Beep. Beep. Beep.
I gave up hope a long time ago that The Killing would ever be as good as Mad Men or Breaking Bad. Honestly, it was never going to be. Even when set up against AMC’s other original series, The Killing may actually be the weakest of the bunch (I think it finishes slightly ahead of Rubicon, but that’s another story). But despite its problems — and it had more than its share — this was still a show that I really enjoyed. And my DVR and I will be there whenever season 2 rolls around, although we’ll save it until after we’ve seen that night’s Game of Thrones, because priorities, right?
And the pieces begin falling into place. Or maybe they’re being jammed into place, seeing as how this thing needs to wrap itself up pretty quick. I still can’t figure out what it is about this show that makes each episode seem like it takes place ages apart from the ones before it. We spent such a long time dwelling on Bennet, but now that he’s in the hospital or dead or whatever, I half-forget he was ever a part of the show. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’ll help me forgive The Killing its many sins.
We sure did learn a lot this week, and the most important bits seem to lay Rosie’s murder right at Richmond’s feet. But the show’s burned me before, so I think I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that in the final minutes of Sunday’s finale, we’ll discover that Richmond is not the killer. The promo we were shown touts some big twist at the end of the season, and Richmond as the culprit feels a little too paint-by-the-numbers, and more than a little obvious. If you want to know what I think, and you must because you’re here (that, or you stumbled upon my cleverly placed sexual SEO phrases), I’d say the smart money is on Tom Drexler, the Richmond campaign contributor who Jamie finds with a swimming pool full of nubile, underage girls. Drexler, with his millions of dollars and living room basketball courts had a lot to say about people like Richmond always cleaning up the messes people like him left behind. When Jamie tried backing away from what was obviously a compromising situation, Drexler said not to worry, that the girls were from Beau Soleil — an escort service Rosie’s aunt, Terry, was working for on the side — and were discreet.
Drexler’s ordering girls from the service and he’s obviously a slimy guy with the money and connections to cover up a dead prostitute, but after we see Richmond receiving the e-mails Linden was sending to Orpheus — a potentially dangerous Beau Soleil client who scared one of the girls — it seems like the case may be open and shut. And maybe it’s that simple. Maybe Drexler is just another red herring and Richmond is the killer. All I’m saying is to remember Bennet! And don’t be so quick to get back with the same girl.
All things considered, this was one of the show’s stronger episodes and it’s a shame we’re seeing it only a week before the finale. This is the stuff they should have shown us in the very beginning. Linden and Holder as characters work so much better now that they’re treating each other like people and not distractions or obstacles. And Rosie’s relationship with Terry adds a whole new dynamic to the Larsens. That’s something Mitch and Stan’s story really could have benefitted from. While I was watching the scene with the two of them talking at the prison, I suddenly realized how annoying Mitch has become. Yes, her daughter died and it’s horrible, but mooooove on, amirite? Up top! Anyway, I did a little cheer when Stan told her that the only reason he was in prison was because she pushed him into going after Bennet. It was something she needed to hear.
More revelations about Linden’s personal life this week, as we saw that her ex-husband isn’t the degenerate we may have been led to believe. I’m still interested in this whole side of the story, but I’m afraid the show’s waited too long to pay it off in any meaningful sort of way. Discovering who Rosie’s killer is and finding out how Linden’s going to repair her relationship with her family seems like way too much to ask from a single episode, so I imagine we’ll be seeing more of this in season 2 (recently announced by AMC!).
To be honest, I’m finding it a little hard to write about this episode, because we’re all right there on the edge, waiting to see how things play out next week. I’m excited for the show to come back next season, but how excited I stay is going to depend on whether or not the show can pull it out in the finale. I’ve got my fingers crossed, but like I said, I’ve been burned before.
After this latest episode, The Killing has another two weeks in which to tell its story. It’s just come off a big narrative detour that didn’t really advance anything, and now it’s spent an entire episode in a car, with Linden and Holder playing Driving Miss Daisy.
Despite the ticking clock, this was one of the best episodes the show has put forth since the beginning of the season, and something I wish we’d been seeing more of. Oddly enough (or maybe not), this is one of the few times in which the show actually paid attention to its “one episode = one day” policy. Events in past episodes have a strange way of piling up on each other, and people seem to always have the time to visit each other two or three times a day. This time, though, the wheels of justice turned slowly and Linden was forced to wait a day before getting her warrant against the Wapi Eagle Casino’s ATM machines.
And all of that was okay. It didn’t matter if they were only driving around, ordering shi**y fast food. I feel like both Linden and Holder are somewhat unique in the milieu of police dramas we’ve seen over the past 20 or so years, and these sorts of character beats are the things I would have liked to have seen more of as they learned how to work with each other. Instead, what we saw was Linden largely ignoring Holder, then having a sudden change of heart after finding out he used to be a meth addict. If the alternative to watching them build an actual relationship was to watch them chase Bennet Ahmed down blind alleys, I would rather watch the relationship. But at least we got this episode, and hopefully it’ll be used as a foundation for whatever we see in season 2 (which is looking more and more likely).
As far as the murder investigation goes, we learned little new information this week. We know Rosie was at the casino, and that’s pretty much it. Pretty much it as far as everything in concerned, actually. Richmond, the Larsens, Belko, Bennet, everyone aside from Linden, Holder and Jack were absent from this episode. Maybe it was a cost cutting thing, maybe the actors were only contracted for a certain number of episodes. Whatever. It worked out well. And I only noticed that so many people were missing toward the end of the episode, which I guess hints at how connected I am to the rest of the show. Maybe at how connected I am to Rosie’s murder, too. Of course I want to know who the killer is, but I found the revelations about Linden and Holder’s personal lives to be much more interesting. Finding out that Holder is a father, or that Regie is actually Linden’s caseworker and that she bounced around foster homes as a kid made me see the entire investigation in a new light. There’s a reason Linden’s as obsessive as she is: she’s trying to help these kids avoid the life she had growing up. In Rosie’s case where that isn’t possible, Linden becomes obsessed with finding her killer. Although this brings up an interesting contradiction in her philosophy, that in searching for Rosie’s killer she’s completely ignoring Jack, her own flesh and blood. I don’t know if losing him for a day and then finding out he was with his dad is going to bringing her back to the farm or not. Again, they’ve only got two episodes to wrap everything up.
Unless that’s not the plan. This is just speculation, but is there anyone out there who thinks they won’t find the killer by the end of the season? I know that in the Danish show (spoilers!), the main character, Sarah Lund, has been disgraced and is working some dead-end job when the second season picks up. I can imagine something similar happening here, although I’m sure it would piss off plenty of people. As to whether they’ll do it or not, I wouldn’t want to speculate. The show’s seemed a little scatter-brained lately. But if scatter-brained means we get more episodes like this, then I’m all for it.
I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about our relationship right now, The Killing. When this whole thing between us started, it was exciting. There was something familiar about you, which I liked, but there was something different and exotic about you, too. Something I hadn’t had before. We gazed deeply into each other’s eyes. We drank. We danced. And then it felt like you started getting tired of this, whatever this is. And these past couple of weeks, well, it really feels like you’ve just been wasting both of our time.
I understand that a murder investigation can have many different twists and turns, and that detectives can be led down several false paths before any sort of solid lead pans out. But The Killing is a TV show, and there are other things to consider. Now that Belko Royce has set Linden and Holder onto the final leg of our journey, it looks like this season can be broken up into three sections. The beginning, in which Rosie is murdered, the main characters are established, and Linden Holder investigate the Halloween party, the kids Rosie was spending her time with and so on. The end, which began this week and — for better or worse — will play itself out over the next three episodes. And in the middle of that, you have the sidebar, which consists of that big distraction known as Bennet Ahmed. The guy who looked so guilty he had to be innocent. That entire aspect of the investigation, with the FBI and Muslim extremists, is so wildly different from what came before it and what’s coming after that it doesn’t even seem like it belongs in this season. And even though we’re only now dealing with the fallout of Stan beating Bennet half to death, and we saw those shots of Bennet in the hospital, in critical condition, that entire aspect of the investigation seemed like it happened weeks and weeks ago.
This highlights what a misstep the entire thing has been, and also a problem with the one-episode-equals-one-day story format. This week was the week Linden’s engagement to Rick fell apart, and while I can buy that Rick knows how obsessive Linden is about her job, and how dangerous that can be, I’m not sure I can buy him leaving her after only a week and a half. Yes, there’s some history there that hasn’t really been explained. Rick mentioned Linden, half-catatonic, staring at the wall while lying in a hospital bed. That’s a serious thing, but her behavior in the show so far wouldn’t exactly classify as dangerous. She’s put Rick off (again, for only a week and a half) and she needs to be spending more time with Jack, but that’s it. If the investigation were stretched out over a couple of months, or even several weeks, I’d be able to buy Rick’s decision. As things stand now, the show is telling us more than it’s showing us.
But, if you’re just looking at this episode, it’s the best we’ve seen in several weeks. We learned some disturbing secrets about Belko Royce, namely that his mother’s overbearing sexuality has kept him in a state of perpetual adolescence. It really turned him into a character, rather than just the guy who hangs out at the Larsen’s garage. Those scenes and a lot of the interplay between Linden and Holder were all really strong, and I wish the show had been giving us more of them from the beginning.
Assuming they find Rosie’s killer by the end of the season, Stan may not be around to enjoy it. After Mitch came to him with her, “Oops. My bad,” at the beginning of this week’s episode, he went straight to the cops and turned himself in. He knows what he did and he’s not trying to deny it, but everyone seemed to be okay with it. His lawyer, even the judge seemed like they were going to do what they had to to help Stan beat the rap and get back home to his family. Richmond gave Bennet some lip service in his press conference later, but that was mostly for his own political gain. But even when he found out what had happened to him, all he could do was tell Linden that he didn’t envy her job. Yeah. That really sucks. Anyway, tell me if that guy with the dreads dies. Speaking of Richmond AND THE CAMPAIGN (tick, tick, tick), I wonder how that picture of him and Rosie is going to play out.
A good episode overall, and I’m really hoping the show redeems itself over these next couple of weeks. With Rick and Sonoma out of the picture, the show’s opened itself for a second season, although AMC has yet to say anything on the matter. Despite its problems, I’ve enjoyed the show and wouldn’t mind seeing it stick around for a while.
The teaser for next week’s episode — which seemed to bring up Rosie, the Halloween party and those punk kids she was spending her time with — made me realize how different the show we’re watching now feels from the show we started with. That show seemed much smaller. Rosie’s murder and how it affected those around her was a much more personal story. In the following weeks we’ve brought in the FBI, a terrorism investigation and the election, which let’s be honest, is running out of time to justify why we should be invested in it.
The revelation that Bennet may have had nothing to do with Rosie’s murder makes me more annoyed with those around him than it makes me sympathetic toward him. Mitch is pissed at the world because Linden and Holder haven’t arrested him yet. Then she’s pissed at Stan because he didn’t kill Bennet when he had the chance. I understand her daughter’s gone, but there’s no reasoning with people like that. And the kids in his class who, with eyes full of disdain, defiantly walked out of his class probably had larger moral objection to school work than they had toward being taught by potential murderer. Sorry. My time in the public school system has ruined whatever optimism I may have had for today’s youth.
Another stunning turn this week had Linden and Holder actually working together, almost like they were partners or something. The interplay between these two is so strong — like what we saw during Mohammed’s interrogation — that I wish the show had been doing more of it. Linden’s suspicions about Holder keeping them at odds over the past couple of weeks really slowed down the show’s momentum, which let’s admit, wasn’t exactly soaring to new heights.
Like this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, The Killing seemed to be drawing a line in the sand. Stan and Belko take Bennet out to a deserted strip of road and beat the ever-loving piss out of him. He looked dead, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see him somehow rise from the grave next week. Either way, they still beat him, and there’s no coming back from that. Now that Mohammed’s confessed what he and Bennet are up to, and Linden and Holder realize he may be in trouble, there’s going to be a big line leading right back to the Larsen’s.
Nothing new to report on the campaign this week. Richmond leaked Adams’ affair to the press, and Adams, who’s a big, slimy douchebag, had it hushed up. Also, Richmond’s got the skills to pay the bills on the “b-ball” court. You know, overall, I enjoy the show. I want to see where the whole thing ends up. But really, what’s the point of all this. The murder investigation (the plot, not the actual investigation) is spinning out of control, and the campaign doesn’t seem to be connected to much of anything, besides the fact that Bennet may have used a campaign car at one time or another. And the Larsen’s are back to treading the same familiar water we’ve seen week after week. The teaser for next week’s episode hinted at some light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hoping the show gets back to basics.
Five episodes left, and we’re slowly moving into the season’s endgame. Or are we? This doesn’t feel like a three-act season to me. In its first few episodes, the show was one way, now it’s a different way. And it seems as if this different way is beginning to touch on some pretty weighty stuff, and I’m not sure the show has done the requisite work to justify it.
At the end of last week’s episode, Linden and Holder walked into what turned out to be an FBI sting operation, monitoring potential terrorist activity linked to the Green Lake Mosque. So, terrorism, huh? We’ve got a few weeks left, so who knows how things will turn out, but you can mark me down right now as not being particularly happy with that turn of events. Making terrorism such a big piece of the plot feels as if it’s taking something away from the Rosie Larsen investigation, not adding to it. Alan Sepinwall brought up a good point in his review of last night’s episode, and that was that the show hasn’t given us any new information on Rosie in a few weeks now. It’s been so focused on Bennet’s relationship to her, and now his background that it feels almost as if it’s changed in some fundamental way.
Even when the show pays off a mystery that it’s been following for the last few weeks — Holder and his mysterious goings-on — it feels as if it’s cheating the audience in some way. So it turns out Holder used to be a junkie. Now he’s on the mend and going to NA meetings every week. It’s interesting, and his speech at the meeting was a good piece of acting. But was there anyone out there who doubted that at some time Holder was a drug addict? It felt like the time the show spent showing Holder hand shadowy figures envelopes stuffed with money could have instead focused on Linden and why she almost lost custody of her son. Or something along those lines.
It could have spent more time developing Linden and Holder’s relationship. I think one of the reasons these two haven’t been able to develop as much as they could have is because they’ve spent so much time apart. I did enjoy seeing their scene together at the end of the episode, another good piece of acting, but I couldn’t help but feel like it should have come much sooner than it did. Despite his many problems, Holder is a good (read effective) cop, and could have been doing a lot more up until this point if Linden hadn’t kept him at arm’s length.
I can’t decide whether Stan and Mitch have taken two steps forward or one step back these past few weeks. By the end of the episode, we definitely saw Mitch relapse, unpacking Rosie’s belongings that Stan had packed just that day. They’re still grieving, as they should be. Like Mitch said, it’s only been a week. But it doesn’t feel as if they’re only grieving. Stan’s trying to focus on the future. So maybe he’s making progress, while Mitch is unpacking boxes.
Not too much to report on the Richmond campaign, other than the fact that he’s finally ready to start playing dirty with Mayor Adams. The only thing that really struck me about this side of the story this week was that poor, stupid woman Adams was having an affair with. Did she really think that standing on her porch and crying would convince the press to go away? Funny. Anyway, five episodes left. With the investigation, the mayoral race and now this terrorist brouhaha seemingly moving farther and farther apart, I’m interested to see how the show begins to brings all these storylines back together.
“We? What the hell you talkin’ about, Linden? Don’t you got a plane to catch?”
In tonight’s episode, Linden just hangs up the phone, but it would have been way cooler if she had said, “I’ll catch that plane when I catch Rosie’s killer! GOT IT?” That one’s free, The Killing writers room. But seriously, folks, I think we can stop following the back and forth between Linden and Rick, the crazy will-she-or-won’t-she BS. Linden’s not leaving until the killer’s been caught. And depending on how much the show deviates from the Danish original, maybe not even then.
Missing their flight to Sonoma did give us that scene between Linden and Regi, and we learned that whatever it was about the last case liked Rosie’s that sucked Linden in, she almost lost custody of Jack because of it. How long ago was this, and what was she doing that was so bad that she almost lost custody of her kid because of it? Was she not feeding him? How old was he? All things in time, I suppose. But up until this point, the show’s been an unforgiving bitch goddess when it comes to Linden’s and Holder’s personal lives. It answers questions with one hand, while bringing up more with the other.
Speaking of characters (we were talking about characters, right?), the show is finally using Stan and Mitch as something other than grieving parents. We’ve known for a little while that Stan was at least tangentially connected to the Polish mob, and we found out this week that he left to save his relationship with Mitch. Now that his daughter’s dead, and he’s overcome with the need to find who did it and bring them to justice — or his own particular brand of justice — he’s not sure he can continue being the man Mitch married. She has more faith in him than he does in himself, and later we see him flying a kite with the boys. Which I take to be representative of the fact that he’s trying. And it’s paying off, somewhat. After all, he was able to keep from killing Bennet.
Can you believe I almost forgot completely about the Richmond campaign? Crazy, right? This whole side of the story is still on a slow burn, but it’s interesting to watch if for no other reason than to see Richmond self-destruct as he continues to refuse to distance himself from Bennet. He lost the debate in last week’s episode, and now he’s lost funding for the All-Stars programs, all because he hasn’t learned that politicians throw all their friends under the bus, eventually.
The search for whoever was at Bennet’s apartment and let Rosie inside on the night of the dance eventually leads Linden and Holder to a mosque, searching for a man named Muhammad who’s a part of Bennet’s Koran study group.While there, a woman slips a note inside one of Linden’s shoes that says, “Do U like me? Check yes or no.” There’s also a really important address written on there, too. And their search of this address led to the most unexpected thing we’ve seen in the series up to this point. What did Linden and Holder find? Where did the SWAT team come from? Are they being arrested? Could they be the murderers (new show idea, a cop who kills serial killers, patent pending)? Like Richmond said earlier, you can’t deny the racial component when it comes to Bennet. I’m just hoping the show doesn’t become too overt with any sort of terrorist storyline it decides to chase down.
Yes, with a show this serialized, every episode is technically a cliffhanger. But is it just me, or was last night’s episode a real cliffhanger? So many questions! What’s Stan going to do with Bennet? Is Bennet’s wife crazy? Growing Pains? Is that where I know her from? The answer to the above questions is… yes!
I say it every week and I’ll say it again now, I don’t think the show’s going to introduce Bennet as the killer this early in the season, even though we’ve just about reached the halfway point. It still feels too early for that. But I do think we’ve gotten to the point where we’re going to start seeing leads that appear to be concrete (more or less), that begin letting us form our opinion on and fight with our spouses over who the killer is. These leads will appear just solid enough so that we feel justified in slamming doors and throwing dishes against the wall, and then BAM! The rug will be pulled out from under us and it’ll turn out Linden killed Rosie. Wouldn’t that just grab you by the short and curlies?
But Bennet is involved in some way that’s not entirely on the level. The chemicals in his house. His crazy wife. And now he’s lying to Linden and Holder about Rosie stopping by the night of the Halloween dance. Heaven forbid we ever find ourselves telling the detectives investigating a murder, “I should have remembered!” Linden seems convinced that Bennet’s lying, but not about Rosie dropping off a book, but about letting her into the apartment at all. I can get on board with that. Given Bennet’s ties to the Richmond campaign, there has to be some twist there that will implicate them in everything.
And I hope we get some hint of that soon, because as semi-interesting as I find the entire campaign storyline, I’m getting a little tired of all those shots of Richmond looking conflicted while Gwen and Jamie repeat the same fill-in-the-blanks stuff about candidates having to DO WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN. It’s not a message Richmond seems very keen on receiving. My favorite Richmond line of the night came during his debate with Mayor Adams. After Richmond refuses to cut ties with Bennet, Adams brings up the fact that the man in charge of Richmond’s crown jewel youth initiative program is a suspect in a murder investigation. To this, Richmond replies, “He’s not a suspect. He’s a person of interest.” You can just kind of hear his political career’s death rattle. How sad.
So Stan used to be mobbed-up, and I like to think that his old nickname had some clever tie-in with his job as a mover. Something like… well, I don’t really have anything. But you get the idea. In any case, it seems like Stan’s really got a temper, because based off information from the groundskeeper at Rosie’s school, the killer is–wait. What? Stan’s making life and death decisions based on what the guy who cuts the grass is saying? I understand being desperate to find the killer, but maybe the reason you listen to the cops and not the guy who cuts the grass is because the guy who cuts the grass is the guy who cuts the grass. In any case, I’m sure they’re going to have a really interesting conversation as soon as they get where they’re going.
The show continues to mete out information on Linden’s history with cases like Rosie’s. When Regi and Jack come down to the station, Regi reminds Linden that she lost her son over this before, and she’d do well to not repeat the same mistakes. Something tells me she’s NOT going to take the advice, but that everything will be alright in a week or so. Speaking of significant others in Linden’s life, if the show gets picked up for another season, I wonder how closely it’ll follow the Danish version. I suppose that’s a discussion for another day, when this season ends and we can spoil the s**t out of things for the hapless souls who still haven’t seen everything yet.
It’s almost a rule of thumb that a TV show is going to take four or five episodes before things really start coming together. The Sopranos really found its voice with “College.” Boardwalk Empire picked up with “Nights in Ballygran.” And I think The Killing may have jumped one or two hurdles with “Super 8.”
Two storylines, when measured up against everything else we’re seeing in the show, have gotten considerable play. And those are Darren Richmond’s campaign for mayor and Stan and Mitch Larsen dealing with the death of their daughter. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I don’t enjoy all the campaign stuff, but after a while my attention starts to wander, and I’m wondering how it’s all connected to Rosie’s murder. Last night’s episode didn’t offer up any hard answers, but it did link the two. Which was good, because up until that last minute reveal, the campaign and the investigation were feeling more separate than they had up until that point. We saw Richmond with his arm around Bennet in his campaign commercial. And while I’m not entirely convinced that Bennet’s the murderer, if for no other reason than we’re still early in the season, there are some pretty damning signs pointing his way. He’s lying to Linden and Holder about sending his wife away because he was redoing their floors. He’s lying about the flooring company canceling their appointment. And when Rosie’s tox-screens come back, they’ve found traces of chemicals on her body that Bennet has lying around his house. Of course there’s more here than meets the eye, but when a school teacher who’s gotten a little too chummy with one of his students has to saying something like, “I know what this looks like,” you know something’s not on the up-and-up.
My DVR description of last night’s episode said, “Mitch still grieves heavily over Rosie’s death.” The first thought that comes to mind is, “The plot thickens!” But it turns out Mitch did get a little more to do last night than take a nap/bath and look distant. She went to the store, did a little grocery shopping, so she’s at least trying to get back into some sort of routine. The Larsen boys also got a little bit of play this week that went past the usual bother/brother bickering. I forget their names, but when the older boy tells his brother not to eat Rosie’s cereal, that he’s going to tell his mom and dad, his brother replies, “They don’t care about us anymore.” It was interesting, the scenes with the boys shopping for cereal, sneaking out to throw away their soiled (gross) sheets, all while their parents are off in this other world. The show’s not getting too involved with them, but it’s a nice reminder of, “hey, we’re still here,” and to see things on their side. The show needs more of this. If all we’re going to be seeing is more scenes of Stan and Mitch breaking down, like Stan did tonight in the gas station bathroom, things are going to get old quick.
I’d be interested to see the cases Linden has thrown herself into in the past. Rick seems to know enough about it, and gets onto Linden as they’re walking out to his car about putting pictures from Rosie’s film up on her wall, which we see a whole mess of later as everything’s wrapping up. There’s obviously an obsessive-compulsive bent there, but at this point it still seems as if she’s just going through the motions of the investigation. Get things far enough along so that she can hand them off to Holder and get down to Sonoma.
Before the episode ends we get our weekly drive-by of all the characters and what they’re up to. We see Stan ask his friend to find out what’s going on with the investigation. This is the friend who, earlier in the episode, said that a friend of his who works at Rosie’s school told him the cops were still looking around over there. This surprised me a little bit because this is only day five. Meaning the investigation’s only been going on for four days. Is it really that odd for the police to be looking around Rosie’s school four days after she was killed? Because we’re only watching an episode a week, it seems like the investigation has been going on a lot longer. And if the cops were still poking around the school after a month, that might be weird, but four days seems pretty reasonable. I see that as one of the problems of timeline-dependent shows like this, or 24 (which… I guess are the only two). You can never be completely faithful to the premise. Anyway, four days is alright. But if Linden and Holder are still at that school on Day 5, the show’s officially jumped the shark.
Tonight’s episode threw a few unexpected curves our way, and a few expected ones. As much as I would have liked for Kris and Jasper to have turned into the case’s two main suspects, mostly because of how annoying and stupid the two of them are, it just didn’t pan out. It wasn’t going to work out any other way, when you think about it. It’s still early days, so I’d expect a few more suspects to be thrown at us and just as quickly be thrown out before anything solid materializes.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was that, rather than Rosie being the girl on the tape roughed up and done wrong by the aforementioned idiot teenagers, it was actually Sterling, her “best” friend. Although I’m not sure how they could remain such good friends when Rosie made Sterling feel so bad that she would debase herself like that. But then again, teenagers are funny people, and who can really know what’s going on inside their heads. Maybe we don’t want to know. In any case, Sterling, Kris and Jasper have played big enough roles in the series thus far that I wouldn’t count on them being tossed aside just yet. Especially in light of Sterling’s reference to how much Rosie had changed. You mean changed like she got into jam bands like Phish? No, I’m guessing it was some much more sinister s**t. We’ve got Holder riding a bus Rosie used to take, and being just lucky enough to follow the right out-of-place-looking black guy to a boy’s club where it turns out she had been seen with her teacher, Mr. Bennet. The stars really aligned on that one, and that sort of thing always takes you out of the story for a bit, but alas, such is television. You’ve got to expect those sorts of things every now and then.
I’m not if Bennet-as-a-lead is really going to go anywhere ultimately. I’m still convinced that Rosie’s fate is inextricably linked to the Richmond campaign. And although the political side of the show isn’t as interesting as the investigation side, I’m still enjoying it. Richmond and Jamie working together to position him next to Mayor Adams was an unexpected twist. And while it’s possible Gwen is the mole in Richmond’s campaign, because wouldn’t that be so effed up, the woman he’s sleeping with is screwing him, in more ways than one(!) seems way too obvious. And besides, if she were the mole, I’m not sure she’d be going through such lengths to set Richmond up with her dad to get more donor money, especially when he’s so busy setting up plane wreckage and dead bodies at the bottom of the ocean.
There’s still a lot of bickering between Linden and Holder and while it’s not turning me off to the show in any way, there’s that part of me that only wishes after happy endings for everyone that would like to see them working together a little more. I’ve said before that I think their strengths as investigators really compliment each other and I think they’d make a lot more headway if they put some of their petty crap aside. We did learn a few new things tonight that I think are worth mentioning, though. According to Kris, Holder’s also got the junky itch, which is a little more evident once you know it’s there. So maybe flirting with underage girls and being super creepy are things Holder’s had experience with in the past. And while I guess you really can’t call this something that we learned, we did see Linden smiling a lot more tonight and showing more emotion in general. I’m not sure I like it. I think she works much better as the cop robot, always getting too involved with the cases she’s working and the ghosts she’s chasing. From her conversation with Rick, it seems like that’s the Linden he’s used to. So we’ll see if she reverts back to that once the case drags on a little longer and she’s forced to stick around.
The Larsens seems to be doing a little better this week. At least Mitch isn’t completely paralyzed with grief. Although I have to say it’s amazing that she’s getting along so well, what with doing things like buying Rosie’s casket. And then there was that really powerful scene of her and Stan seeing the pictures of Rosie’s body at the police station. It seems like they make a little bit of progress, only to have the scab torn off all over again. As for learning new things, we found out that Stan used to have some sort of tie to organized crime, if we’re inferring what we should be inferring from the guy who spends all his time in the cafe reading the paper and handing out hundred dollar bills when he sees people in need. It’s been hinted at that Stan used to be wrapped up in some shady stuff, tonight’s episode confirmed it. Whoever the guy is, he and Stan obviously had a rocky past, but not to the point that Stan would refuse the stack of money the guy put in front of him. I have a hard time believing any of the stuff the we’re seeing at this point is insignificant, so I think this has yet to play itself out. The wheels turn slowly, but they turn.