California Literary Review

The Killing Recap: What I Know (Season 2, Episode 13)

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June 18th, 2012 at 3:23 am

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The Killing- Jamie Anne Allman as Terry Marek

Terry- One of the Killers

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Jamie and Terry killed Rosie Larsen.

Jamie and Terry killed Rosie Larsen. Jamie found her hiding on the 10th floor of the Wapi casino overhearing about the Native American bones scheme and decided (relatively hastily) to shut her up before she destroyed the Richmond campaign. When neither Michael Ames nor Jamie were willing to dump the campaign car with Rosie’s body in the trunk into the lake, Terry did so to win Michael’s affections. She did not know it was Rosie until the next day.

That’s what you came here for, isn’t it? Still, I provide my thoughts on the episode and, if you skip to the bottom, on the series as a whole.

Much like the Pilot, tonight’s episode of The Killing best showed the series’ potential by hitting emotional and narrative heights for all three storylines. While it’s not enough to make one forgive the show all its trespasses, it’s still probably close to the best that you can expect from The Killing. I give credit to the flashback sequences featuring Rosie, as these gave the episode a power that the series rarely has.

Picking up right from where we left off last week, Ted Wright invited Richmond to his home to tell him that Jamie was lying about his whereabouts the night Rosie Larsen was murdered since he’s apparently mad for being deified on television. Jamie takes Richmond back to the office where he confesses everything, but he tries to excuse himself by saying that he did it all for Richmond and his campaign. This sequence employed the “well now that I’ve been outed as evil, I get to act crazy” concept that I really don’t like. I generally find something weak in the idea that once someone is revealed as being bad, they suddenly flip their evil switch to ‘on’ as though all this time they’ve been anxiously waiting for the chance to be grandiose.

The Killing- Eric Ladin as Jamie Wright

Jamie- The Other of the Killers

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Jamie loses all his composure and goes on a megalomaniacal rant where he expects gratitude from Richmond for murdering a teenage girl on his behalf. This was a guy who didn’t want to campaign negatively. Did Jamie really think that this was going to get Richmond to give him a slap on the back? Regardless, the cops are on his trail and Holder shoots Jamie through a glass door as he brandishes a gun. I appreciate that the show took care of this in the first 15 minutes; I was glad that they left time for the aftermath and that they didn’t decide to re-twist Jamie’s presence on that night. Richmond, by the way, won the election.

Although Holder and Linden get accolades on solving the case, they are still angry that they cannot pin anything substantial on Ames, Chief Jackson, etc. – though Chief Jackson is charged with obstruction of justice. Nevertheless, they figure out that Terry was involved and arrest a broken, remorseful, and sobbing aunt in the Larsen’s home in front of a shocked Mitch and Stan.

The Larsens get the heaviest emotional material of the night as they plan to move from their old house into the new house Stan bought for the family while still trying to rebuild their lives following Mitch’s road trip. Despite the lingering drama, this might be the first time that they come across as a happy family. We don’t learn what’s happening with Stan’s charges regarding the Ahmed beating, but that’s for another day, one that’s beyond the borders of this show. We end our time with them as they watch Rosie’s silent movie Super 8/Instagram recordings with tears in their eyes, the film coincidentally being developed right when the investigation ended. Though to be fair, cheesy and obvious as the “departing message” may be, the show made it work.

The Killing- Joel Kinnaman and Mirelle Enos as Detectives Holder and Linden

Holder and Linden, Putting An End To This

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Also at the end, Richmond begins his career as the mayor by holding a meeting with Ames and Chief Jackson because what could possibly be an easier for us to see that Richmond is actually willing to sacrifice his values? Well, they could have Gwen almost in tears watching them. Oh wait, the show did that. Still, Richmond gets to close the door on Gwen, in a Michael Corleone/Kay Adams, end of The Godfather move.

And Linden and Holder are back on the beat. They get a call to investigate another body, but Linden leaves Holder’s car, and we close with her walking down the sidewalk on a sunny day.

I offer my thoughts on the series as a whole below the Additional Thoughts section.

Additional Thoughts:

• As for my thoughts upon actually learning who killed Rosie Larsen, “it’s a good enough answer.”
• Linden and Holder visit the Larsens to tell them that they caught (well, killed) the culprit. I wonder why they didn’t think they’d hear about it on the news.
• I appreciate that they didn’t go with a cliffhanger to end the season.
• I liked how, unless I missed it, they stopped putting the “Day” atop the dawn overhead view of Seattle after the investigation was over.
• Thanks for reading.


The Killing: A Look Back

The Killing Poster

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

My overall thoughts on The Killing are primarily negative, I might as well start there. And I have touched on some of these polarizing points before. Mostly, while I think the show had a lot going for it, it rarely achieved its potential. (NOTE: I wrote most of this section before watching What I Know, and the show managed to avoid many of my criticisms in its final hour.)

If I were to pick the show’s biggest weakness (other than the writing), it would ironically be its biggest strength(s)- Detectives Linden and Holder. The series placed such a heavy emphasis on the investigation into the killing of Rosie Larsen that the other elements seemed like afterthoughts much of the time. For a show like this, Rosie Larsen should have been more of a focal point, arguably even more than the two detectives looking into her death. Unfortunately, most of the time, finale excluded, I felt as though Rosie Larsen was incidental to the show’s goings-on. In other words, having something to investigate was more important than that which they were investigating.

The annoyingly narrow scope should have been expanded beyond our three main parties (the detectives, the Richmond campaign, and the Larsens) by giving us regular looks at how the murder impacted Rosie’s classmates/friends and other members of the community. Representatives from these groups made brief appearances throughout the first two seasons, but none of them lasted. I don’t think we saw any of the money men (other than Ames this season), and even the villains such as the Wapi casino and Mayor Adams seemed to exist only to serve the plots of the three main parties. Disappointingly, I don’t believe the human aquarium made one appearance in season 2.

The Red Room in Twin Peaks

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

People, myself included, have compared this show to Twin Peaks, but one of the things that show did right was giving a real personality to the town and its inhabitants. Never forgetting that it was birthed in Who Killed Laura Palmer?, Twin Peaks still could have conceivably lasted outside of her death because of the extensive world it created. It’s hard to imagine that one can say the same about The Killing. The spectre of Rosie’s death could have hung over future seasons, but for the sake of longevity the audience needed more to latch onto than the two main detectives.

The focus on the investigation also limited the show’s suspense greatly. If the show was more about “the killing” instead of “the mystery,” then we could have at least expected that the final couple of episodes would concern the fallout rather than solving the crime. Instead, it became obvious that the reveal of the culprit would be put off until the final episode, which highlighted the pointlessness and filler of many of the show’s subplots (e.g. Beau Soleil). If Linden and Holder didn’t have to be on the main stage every week, this may have been prevented.

This also affected the “realism” excuse used by many of the show’s proponents. I know most murders don’t get solved in 42 minutes and that detectives often encounter red herrings during their crime solving, but at some point in The Killing, probably after the Bennet Ahmed circumcision scheme, these detours no longer felt natural. A sense of padding plagued the show, one that I don’t think it ever really managed to overcome.

Billy Campbell as Darren Richmond in the Killing

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

I also found the realism excuse lacking because of The Killing‘s tendency to drift heavily into heavy handed, soap opera-y melodrama. I’m not even talking about the Extreme Larsen Grief, but elements such as the biological father reveal, the ill thought out (particularly in the second season) mob storyline, and, especially, the Huge Giant Conspiracy Implicating Everyone In the Upper Echelon of Seattle Business and Politics all made it difficult for me to buy into the series as a more serious alternative to the typical police procedural.

However, I did try my best to suspend my disbelief in numerous areas. I accepted the quick healing factors of Richmond and Holder. I never mentioned how the press didn’t pick up on any of the shenanigans going on in the Larsen investigation (you’re telling me that one cop gets beaten brutally at the Native American casino and the next day his partner is institutionalized after trying to commit suicide in the same place and that’s not going to raise some journalist’s eyebrow? Did the reporters stop looking into it after Stan Larsen yelled at them?). But when realism is one of your top selling points, I am more likely to condemn its absence.

Brent Sexton as Stan Larsen in the Killing

Photo credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Overall, I’d probably consider The Killing, a C-/C series. Its placement on AMC following Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Rubicon definitely led to higher-than-warranted expectations. There was good in it- the acting, the direction, the (occasionally overbearing) atmosphere, the subtle bits of humor that I’d like to believe were intentional. Even the momentum during the end of this season picked up enough to make me curious rather than obligated to see how the show ends.

Unfortunately, because of how The Killing was set up, it was too late to change the format by the time it hit season 2; Linden and Holder weren’t going to be side players in their show. Were The Killing to enter into Season 3, I would hope that it could learn from its mistakes. Be smarter. Have (or maintain) a stronger emotional core. Rely on characters rather than than twists. But as it stands right now, do I think it deserves a third chance? Admittedly no. Yet between the three bubble shows I’ve recapped on this site (this one, the slightly better in hindsight Terra Nova, and the worse in hindsight Alcatraz), I’d be most willing to give this show another shot.

As always, thanks for reading.

  • Realism

    I would just like to say that what you consider realistic is a bit off. This show is taking place day to day and you think the news would have all of a sudden knew who the killer was? In real life the family knows first (in almost all cases). Also for how it affected everyone else, they did show this. They even brought in Rosie’s friend again in the second season. I do agree that they did pad the season a bit, but you would be surprised the things that can happen when you make bad choices and ties in life with other people.

  • Sade

    I’ve enjoyed your recaps. After season one ended, I really didn’t want to keep watching but, for whatever reason, felt like I owed it to myself to see how it all resolved. So, I’d read your recaps each episode to see whether or not it was worth it to watch the episode myself (more often than not it wasn’t worth it, so I’d just play the show On Demand in the background while I was doing other things). Generally, I’ve agreed with all your opinions.

    Thanks for the great work!

  • Steve.

    In Twin Peaks even the acting was quite dodgy at times, I was fully engrossed in it, and I didn’t feel like I was being manipulated as with this show.

  • Mary

    I guess that is what makes us all different and interesting, I absolutely loved the Killing, I was totally obsessed, and did not miss a episode, and Linden and Holden have been my best characters so far in any series and I watch a lot, I would love to see a third season, but I respect your opinion and enjoy your style of writing thanks.

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