In the Comments section of last week’s episode, people were posting about the show’s heavy-handedness in dealing with emotions. This is something that has been true about The Killing since its start. This is a show that has never adopted subtlety, and this tendency shows clearly tonight. Along with Linden’s plot, which I will get to below, we also get moments such as Stan leaving a tear-strewn message on Rosie’s voicemail where he gives clichéd lines like “you’ve always been the best thing about me!” It’s to “season MVP” Brent Sexton’s credit that this scene comes across relatively well and almost genuine in the way that melodramas can pull off.
Tonight’s big plot revolves around Sarah Linden. After being knocked unconscious in the casino, she wakes up in a mental institution on suicide watch. The person who “found” her claimed that Sarah was about to jump off the casino, and they had to knock her out to stop her. The excuse probably wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny, but it doesn’t matter because as long as Sarah is put away for 72 hours, she can’t impede the election, and that’s the deadline for solving the murder apparently. Holder goes into full detective mode, committed to rescuing Linden as well as moving the investigation plot ahead 10 spaces on The Killing game board. Seriously, Holder gets more done tonight than probably anyone has in any given five episodes.
For most of 72 Hours, I wished that the episode was like Missing where the focus would be exclusively on Linden and Holder. Considering their placements in their respective seasons (Missing– Episode 11 and 72 Hours– Episode 10), I thought that a Linden/Holder-centric episode near the end of each year would become a staple for the series. It’s not as if the Larsen and Richmond scenes came across as necessary or too important to postpone, though time will tell I guess. Linden handling the emotional heavy lifting by talking with the therapist and dealing with her own mental issues while Holder investigated both Rosie Larsen’s death and Sarah Linden’s life could have carried the episode and maybe even provided it with the emotional oomph that I thought was mostly lacking.
A big problem with the emotional angle comes from Enos. I never bought her as the obsessive cop type. Problematic throughout the series, this is especially bothersome tonight because a good part of the episode revolves around her oft-referred-to hospitalization from several years earlier where she suffered a breakdown while investigating a case. (The case involved someone killing a woman and leaving her son Adrian locked in a closet for six days as his mother’s body festered.) For a character like Linden to work, there needs to be an intensity that I’ve always felt was lacking in Enos’ performance. Annoyed, regularly in a foul mood, and cold are all terms I can comfortably use to describe Linden, but I’ve never seen her as too emotionally invested in anything, especially not Rosie Larsen. While one could argue that she developed that defense mechanism following her first breakdown, I still don’t get an all-consuming drive from her that I think the character needs/should have. To give credit, Enos does a good job when Linden finally opens up during her final scene with the therapist.
Another reason why the plot doesn’t entirely work is because of just how bad the therapist was. In order to prevent being held for 72 hours, Linden needed to convince the therapist of her sanity. But the therapist was so blunt, obvious, clumsy, and rude that I ended up developing theories about her motives. Was it to show the incompetence of people in public service? Was her goal to push all of Linden’s buttons to see if she’d snap? If so, is that a traditional practice? If not, was she working for The Seattle Cabal of Evil so that they can hold Linden for as long as they need? Odds are none of these things is true, but her lack of interest in whether Linden actually was suicidal and her delivery of lines like “You found Rosie in the trunk of a car and Adrian a dark closet. What does that mean to you Sarah!?,” “Maybe something they went through is something you relate to!,” “Why do these two cases mean so much to you?” and “Let’s talk about your mother.” made her seem frustratingly amateurish. By the end of the day, Sarah gets out when Holder gets her ex-fiancé/psychiatrist on record Rick to sign for her release, even though he wants nothing to do with her anymore.
Holder, meanwhile, solves the entire mystery. After learning that someone was arrested on the Waterfront Development Complex on the night of Rosie’s Larsen’s murder (they didn’t check this earlier?), he discovers that the criminal was someone who worked for the Polish mob (remember them?) but protected by Project Manager Michael Ames. He explains his massive theory to Carlson using the classic “hah! I’ve been waiting for you in the back of the car!” technique. The mobster was hired by the Native Americans to bury bones on the Waterfront Development Complex property, which led to him being arrested for breaking and entering, which led to a meeting between Ames, Chief Jackson, and Mayor Adams, which Rosie overheard while on the 10th floor of the casino, which led to her death. As Holder explains, “This goes all the way to the top. This goes to City Hall,” which I still think sounds humorously over-the-top. It didn’t help that Holder’s cadence made me think of Dave in Flight of the Conchords.
As usual, I’ll end with the Richmond campaign. Richmond makes an appearance at an event being held by the Seattle All Stars, a group of urban children who play basketball and who were regulars in the Richmond storyline in Season 1. With the show reviving all of these old threads, maybe we’ll make a return trip to the Internet mogul and the house with the human aquarium. At the celebration, he tries to make basketball shots from his wheelchair. His appearance ends up on YouTube and becomes an inspirational viral sensation within a day. But it turns out that Gwen had to pay someone to make and post the video, and she does so under the shadows of darkness with a mysterious, nondescript envelope. You don’t have to be that covert when outsourcing a YouTube video.
We have three episodes left before the end of season 2 of The Killing and learning who officially killed Rosie Larsen. Unless the show wants to reveal the culprit early and deal exclusively with the aftermath, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mayor Adams, Chief Jackson, and Michael Ames are just more red herrings. Besides, what would The Killing be if we didn’t have people coming across as ridiculously guilty only to end up as…not so much innocent as not guilty of Rosie Larsen’s murder.
• Speaking of people returning, the Ahmeds and Reggie come back tonight. Stan apologizes to the Ahmeds and fixes their porch light. Reggie was the first person Holder turned to to learn more about his partner. However, I found it hard to believe that Reggie would immediately jump to the worst conclusions about Linden.
• I always felt that not knowing the details behind the “why” of Linden’s original institutionalization was a smart decision. I still hold that belief after this episode.
• Since Rick was Linden’s psychiatrist of record, doesn’t their relationship violate some sort of code of professional ethics?
• The score during the Richmond basketball scene was just like the music played during the big, last-second-point scene in every cheesy, heart-warming sports movie. This decision was either ridiculously clever or insanely hokey.
• The therapist’s face when Linden walks out of the office without divulging her epiphany- was it “I almost got something to use against her?” disappointment or “I almost got someone to open up to me! I could have done good here!” disappointment.
• Looks like Holder got to Carlson’s soul. Seems like the brass’ll get their back. Or he’ll sacrifice himself when throwing Michael Ames into the Waterfront Development Complex.