Tonight, The Killing managed a good episode. Not a “good for this show” episode or a “good, but…” episode, but a worthwhile hour of television. Is it enough to forgive the show for its many mistakes? No. The Killing needs to be consistently good for the next five episodes to begin to fully re-evaluate the series and whether it deserves renewal, but for tonight, The Killing pulls one off. Also surprising is that it was directed by Veena Sud, the showrunner who bears the brunt of the blame for most of the series’ faults.
Admittedly, there is little forward momentum on solving the case tonight. All we find out is that the maid from last week found Rosie’s backpack on the casino grounds and dropped it off at the Larsen’s residence to give them closure/aid in the investigation. It’s the type of reveal that makes you wonder whether the show planned this all along, and it was just playing with the audience’s expectations by performing the drop using moodiness, fear, and score to mislead us. If so, it shows that the series actually does have a sense of humor, albeit one it rarely employs. However, the maid doesn’t seem like the type to go off the reservation (no pun intended) on such a dangerous mission. We also learn that Rosie has a key to the 10th floor of the casino that could literally be the key to solving her death and that she worked as a maid, not a prostitute.
But what makes Off The Reservation work is a combination of suspense and actors’ moments. The opening sequence where Linden finds out that Lieutenant Carlson calls off the investigation into Holder’s disappearance because he doesn’t believe her (or because he’s on someone’s dime) leading to her threatening to bring in internal affairs leading to an actual search by the Seattle PD is very well-done, similar to the discovery of Rosie’s body in the first episode. Later, Carlson telling Linden to turn in her badge seemed like a long overdue moment. Unsurprisingly, Linden decides to go rogue. In subsequent episodes, I hope we see who is now assigned to the Larsen case, since I imagine there would be some fallout if the police department completely stopped investigating a case that only yesterday made headlines due to the Richmond press conference.
Perhaps most amazingly is that Linden finally sends Jack away to live with his father in Chicago. I assume by father she means Rick (Callum Keith Rennie) from last season, but I can’t remember if she ever considered Rick Jack’s father. After all, they weren’t married, which was brought up in this episode. And I thought he lived in Sonoma (also brought up in this episode) and not Chicago. Maybe the plane stopped in Chicago before going to Sonoma. I doubt she sent him to Greg. Nevertheless, the scene where she puts Jack onto the plane was well played by Enos. I finally got the sense that she truly cared for her son as a son and not as a possession. (Don’t take this to mean that I want Jack to return.)
Stan Larsen has to deal with fallout from his statement at the press conference as he’s inundated with phone calls and tips. Although this storyline only takes up a small percentage of what happens on screen, Brent Sexton does a terrific job with his mini-arc. There’s a childish hopefulness in him when he shows up to Linden with a list of tips, and seeing him slowly lose this excitement while trying to maintain a façade is a high point of the season. More than that, the non-comic diner scene where Stan meets with a psychic is one of the best scenes in the show’s history.
Finally, we’re back with Richmond. The Stan Larsen-enhanced press conference cost him several points. People still want to know where he was on the night of Rosie Larsen’s murder, and his lack of answers is further turning the public against him. Unless I missed it, the line from last week’s trailer where Richmond says he was with Gwen was not in this episode. However, Off the Reservation marks the return of last year’s favorite almost-storyline The Waterfront Project, which apparently is not just the most important thing in the election but also probably the most important thing in the mystery of who killed Rosie Larsen. And those developers would have gotten away with it too…
• After Holder’s kidnapping, Linden puts Jack at Holder’s apartment promising him it would be safe. Aside from the fact that no one should trust her when she says a place is safe, wouldn’t the apartment of a guy who has been kidnapped by people with vast resources be especially unsafe?
• The revelation that Rosie was a maid and not a prostitute is disappointing. Like I said a couple of weeks ago after Jasper’s “virgin” comment, I wonder if they’re backing down on Rosie’s scandalous behavior due to some Puritanical mindset that requires them to sap her of her naughtiness in order to make her death tragic. The excuse that she had to dress adult in order to clean rooms is unconvincing.
• I realize that Holder healed superfast, but so did Richmond. I guess if they’re going to do a day per episode, you just have to accept superhealing.
• With Jack gone, does that mean the entire custody plotline is going to be dropped? I wouldn’t mind, but that doesn’t make it any less of a waste.