The Killing, Episode 6: “Vengeance”

Posted on May 09, 2011

In talking over this episode this morning, we realized with a slowly dawning sense of horror that we were struggling mightily to convince ourselves it was a great one. That is NEVER a good sign for a show, as far as we’re concerned. In fact, we may have been reticent about it this morning, but we’ll be blunt now that we’ve thought about it more: the quality is declining with each episode.

The acting is still top notch, but the moodiness that permeated the first episode, as well as the first rate directing and writing, are less and less evident each week. Think of the scene from the first episode when they opened the trunk to find Rosie’s body, with Stan down the road screaming and crying, and Mitch on the phone crumbling to the floor as her two sons watched with fear and horror on their faces. When was the last time we felt a gut punch like that? Certainly not last night.

Listening to Linden go on to her non-responsive boyfriend about “what flight I’m supposed to take” and watching Richmond impotently flail about as his campaign slowly sinks, we wonder: are we supposed to root for these characters? Because they look like they’re in total denial. Linden killed her own relationship and Richmond’s campaign is embarrassingly earnest and naive, with not a chance of winning. And yet, we suspect that we are supposed to care if Linden can salvage her relationship and not go down dark roads she’s been down before. We’re supposed to care whether or not Richmond will be the next mayor. As to the latter, we can firmly say we don’t care. To be honest, we’d never vote for a candidate like that. Not because he had the presumed bad luck to be peripherally involved with a local murder, but because he routinely gets steamrolled by every single person he goes up against. He’s the very definition of a wimp and the characterization is so engrained at this point that we actually found the impromptu sex scene in the office to be sleazy and gross. If we’re not rooting for Darren Richmond, then what’s he for? We’ll stick with our original instincts that his campaign is far more involved in the murder than we’ve seen so far.

As for Linden, we’re not even close to throwing in the towel on this character yet. Mireille Enos is giving far too good a performance for us not to care. But we are tired of hearing about her wedding plans. If she has a tendency to get consumed by her cases to the detriment of all her interpersonal relationships, that’s enough. We don’t need endless mentions of a wedding she doesn’t seem to want and planes she has no intention of catching. We’re hoping last night’s scene in the airport will close down this repetitive story element. It’s enough to know she’s slipping away from the people who care about her. Honestly, at this point, if the story ended with her getting married, we’d find that an extremely odd way to wrap up her arc. We loved the scene where she showed her son how to aim and shoot. We find we respond more to the idea that her relationship with her son is being damaged by her obsessions than whether or not she’s going to make it to her own wedding.

What really disappointed us was the “ripped from the headlines,” Law & Order-esque turn the story took, where suddenly it appears that Linden and Holder have stumbled into an FBI investigation of terrorist activity. Seriously? Had we known this was the direction, we’re not so sure we would have signed on. There’ s not a thing wrong with a crime drama exploring terrorism – and specifically Islamic terrorism  – as part of the plot. It’s just that there are so many other shows and movies that have gone down this road.  And we question the optics of a show with a large, lily-white cast and the only person of color is not only the main suspect in a murder, but possibly involved with a terrorist cell. With a mysterious friend named Mohammed, no less. That’s dicey at best, in terms of the politics of it.

To be fair, we don’t believe for a minute that Bennet or his mysterious friend are the real murderers. If anything, this sideline into a mysterious Halal butcher shop meat locker feels more like a red herring that’s playing on current racial and ethnic fears. We have no idea what Linden and Holder saw in there, but we immediately assumed it had nothing to do with the case. We will happily admit we are wrong next week if it turns out otherwise, but if we’re right, that’s another thing that doesn’t speak well for the show; the fact that we’re so cynical about the cliffhanger reveals each week. Are we so off-base to assume that whatever’s in that meat locker will be dispensed with in the first ten minutes of the show next week? After all, the show opened this week with a murderous, looming Stan Larsen ready to kill Bennet only to … drive away.

Admittedly, we did like where that aspect of the story went. It turns out the Larsen we need to keep an eye on isn’t Stan, it’s Mitch. After introducing us to her monstrous (and monstrously stereotypical) mother, Mitch sits in the endless pouring rain, watching the Ahmeds and their shakey, fragile domestic bliss. It could just be that we’re so in love with Michelle Forbes’ performance that we’ll latch on to anything, but it’s Mitch’s story that keeps us most invested in the outcome.

Oh, and that creepy family friend who keeps insisting he’s got inside information and pushing the Larsens to act on it. That’s exactly how a suspect would act, wouldn’t you say?

    • http://twitter.com/SarahJLang Sarah Lang

      I toally agree with you on this – although I was called “a crappy critic” for pointing that out in my recap for MSN.com. :)

      Also, speaking of Belko as a suspect, a friend reminded me about his and I find it intriguing; in the pilot episode, Stan and Belko made a pick-up from a butcher shop owned by a Muslim gentleman named Mohammed.

    • http://profiles.google.com/paigemano Paige Mano

      I found this ep pretty boring, actually. Anyone else tired of the endless downpours? I mean, I know it’s supposed to be Seattle, but really? Not to mention Linden’s endless supply of Cosby sweaters?

      • Rroseselavy

        I think they are the same few sweaters over and over again. Which would make sense if she sent all of her stuff to Sonoma already. I actually like the constant downpours, but that is not Seattle rain.

        • http://profiles.google.com/paigemano Paige Mano

          Okay, the sweaters thing makes sense. Harumph.

        • http://profiles.google.com/paigemano Paige Mano

          Also, I like your name. Duchamp for the win!

        • http://profiles.google.com/sntierney Shannon Tierney

          Word. Seattle is drizzle. Constant, mind numbing drizzle. Or cloudy and overcast. Or occasional sunny days that make everyone in town go spontaneously insane with mad glee.

          • http://profiles.google.com/eden.hemming e h

            The thunder is just too much, too. I understand that it wouldn’t make sense to most people in other parts of the US to have that much rain without some thunder, but in all the years I lived in Seattle, thunder was a major rarity.

    • Mac

      I’ts becoming so boring and slow, I’m constantly reminding myself to focus but my mind keeps wondering off. I’m almost over it, I’m just watching to read the recaps here.

    • Nevermind

      I get the same feeling that they’re pretty much just jogging in place and repeating themselves to fill up time slots. Have so-and-so scream some more, have some one cry some more, have everyone say the exact same thing they’ve said in every damned episode so far.

      This version would have made an interesting double CSI episode but they’re veering too far away from what held the original series together.

    • ShivaDiva

      The “Should I Stay or Should I Go” storyline is a single-episode dilemma at best, but they seem determined to stretch it out for the entire season. What’s next, she books a flight, gets on the plane, then has an epiphany while it’s taxiing on the runway and pulls her badge to force them to let her out? Tired and uninteresting doesn’t begin to describe this situation. Though I do fully agree that the scene with her son was great.

      I, too, find myself growing disinterested with most of the plot threads. I don’t really even care who killed Rosie Larsen, to tell the truth. Richmond is such a limp noodle I’m surprised anyone even supported his campaign, financially or otherwise. There could be some interest in the repercussions for the cops… if there are any. Stealing Qur’ans and breaking and entering seem like pretty unorthodox police tactics.

    • MilaXX

      Jettison the campaign and the fiance. They stop the story nearly every time. Scratch that until the murder connection is made, the campaign just needs to fade into the background. Things I enjoyed this week were Linden teaching her son to shoot & the revelations about the Larsen. Finding out that Stan quit the mob after Mitch gave him an ultimatum, seeing Stan attempt to be intimate with Mitch and Mitch being too broken; those are far better scenes for me.

    • MilaXX

      Jettison the campaign and the fiance. They stop the story nearly every time. Scratch that until the murder connection is made, the campaign just needs to fade into the background. Things I enjoyed this week were Linden teaching her son to shoot & the revelations about the Larsen. Finding out that Stan quit the mob after Mitch gave him an ultimatum, seeing Stan attempt to be intimate with Mitch and Mitch being too broken; those are far better scenes for me.

    • Miss Heather

      Last night, I kept thinking this show would be great as a miniseries – like the BBC’s ‘Five Days’ from a few years ago. The scenes between Linden and Holder are electric, and like you, I’m intrigued by the relationship between Linden and her son, and their ‘friend’/social worker. I also sense that Holder is a much more fascinating character than we’ve been shown (and Joel Kinnaman is hot). But anything to do with the campaign and parents’ grief sent me nodding off. There just doesn’t seem to be enough here to stretch over 13 episodes.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve noticed that the Michelle Forbes character is always cleaning or handling cleaning products while at home.

      In the first episode, she was cleaning up a kitchen flood and by the time the cops came around, she was putting everything in the trash bin outside. Later, when her sister complained that the cops had broken something, Mitch gave her a jug of some chemical and said, “here, use this.” In last night’s episode, when Nana was in the kitchen, the sister was putting stuff in a big garbage bag and taking it out.

      I’m probably reading too much into it, but I’ve noticed it in every episode. It just feels like foreshadowing about crime scene clean up.

    • Rsenoff

      You really should watch the original Danish version called Forbrydelsen…it is incredible!! and then watch The Killing as a parallel.

    • Joyce

      I’ve stopped watching the show and only read your re-caps. They are all I need anyway.

    • Prunella

      I’m still invested, but I can’t blame you guys if you bail on the show. The idea that this is a character study, and maybe who killed Rosie is not the point, keeps me in it. The acting is just great, except for the cringingly uncomfortable sex scene. But maybe we’re supposed to feel that way about it. I have a feeling I won’t know what I think about the series until this season is over.

      • Rroseselavy

        I agree. I’m still in it. I can’t tell where they are going with some of this, and I’m still interested. Yes, it’s exhausting to have Linden announce in every show that she is DEFINITELY leaving TONIGHT, but there may be a point to it that we’re just not seeing yet. I will be patient.

    • Whipsmartgirl6000

      I agree about the friend/coworker who keeps offering his help. I don’t think it was a line when he said he used to wet the bed when he spoke to the Larsen boy after making up his bed. A common crime trope is the serial killer who was abused as a child and wet his bed (and then beaten some more because he wet his bed).

    • Nevermind

      I’m really gun-shy that AMC will do right by the series ever since the “Rubicon” fiasco. I watched that series drag on and on in slow motion and then just end in the middle of a scene like someone pulled the plug. I’ve discovered an overblown, over-wrought tour de force that runs off in 12 directions at once is usually never as interesting as it’s promised to be.

      • Anonymous

        I’m with you. I had such high hopes for Rubicon, all the way to the final episode. I liked the characters there more than on this show, too.

    • mcwolfe

      I’m still in. I realized that as I was watching the beginning scene with Stan and Bennet that my stomach was tied in knots, fearing that Stan was going to do something that he couldn’t take back. That doesn’t happen to me too often with television and makes me want to stick with it. Stan’s employee seems a bit too obviously creepy to me – I find myself thinking that he’s a criminal but the crime he’s committed may not be the one this show is about.

      I’m completely disinterested in Larsen’s fiance and only marginally interested in the campaign. I think I need more intersections there to be convinced there’s anything to it at all. But at least we know more about how the candidate’s wife died.

      Yeah, I’m still in but they’d better give me more next week.

    • Janicemuah

      It’s actually not Seattle rain…series is filmed in Vancouver :)

      • Rroseselavy

        I don’t think it’s Vancouver rain either. I think it’s dumpsters filled with water positioned over the actors’ heads, supplemented by elephant showering equipment.

        • Janicemuah

          agreed, spent plenty of time in Vancouver….and while we know it rains there alot, that is just ridiculous….

    • vmcdanie

      I dunno. I’m going to hang on till the bitter end and I don’t dislike the show (unlike Game of Thrones which I just can’t seem to get into thus far) but I wonder if it’s going anywhere and there’s lots of dead air in the show. Like any time Linden mentions Sonoma which I might have to turn into a drinking game and anything about the Richmond campaign. Although I am starting to find Jamie a little interesting.

      And isn’t the mayor a little too cartoon villain? Shutting down a youth program because a person of interest in a murder trial volunteers there? Is he going to tie Linden to the railroad tracks in next week’s ep? The Muslim tie in better be damn good but I suspect it’s another stray bone (although someone pointed out the Mohammed/butcher connection below and didn’t the Mayor mention the importance of the Somali vote in one episode?)

      It’s very beautifully filmed which might be what keeps me watching. And Holder. I love Holder.

      I also have to ask if a cop as professional as Linden would be calling and chattering to her boyfriend’s voice mail while they are not only investigating a lead but wandering through a back alley looking for a potential murder suspect. Sloppy. And not one viewer cares about the boyfriend. Please dump that storyline.

    • Erica

      this last episode was the nail in the coffin for me. i think this would have been better as a 5- or 6-parter. i really liked it in the beginning, but now i’m just not invested in the characters anymore. i don’t care who killed rosie larsen, who wins the campaign, whether linden gets married, etc.

    • Lori B

      I’d be out after last night if I wasn’t hot for Holder and I love Kinnamon’s portrayal. Even Mireille Enos is starting to grate because as wonderful an actress as she is, she can’t make Linden work with the anemic, cliched writing.
      The purpose of each episode is merely to get us to the next episode. There’s little investment in the mystery anymore since new characters pop up each week, and many of the characters that began as intriguing are now just cartoons.

      And while the Muslim storyline was prominent in the Danish version, I had hoped they wouldn’t go there, for many reasons.

      Great recap as always, TLo. I can only add that it’s not at all credible that a young Muslim woman would be missing for a week and no one would care. It’s about as believable as having only two detectives — one on her way out and the other a total newbie — on the Rosie Larsen case.

    • Meghan

      honestly… i’m not impressed with enos at all. i want to like this show a lot… but i think i just watch it because there’s nothing better on sunday nights right now. she always has the same deer in headlights blank stare no matter what’s going on. i’d like her to once grow a set and show some actual emotion.

    • Steve D.

      I really really want to love this show, but as so many have pointed out the episodes seem to be declining in plot as well as intensity week by week. The way they ended the “Bennet and Stan drive” was just so anticlimactic i found it incredibly annoying. I didnt honestly expect stan to shoot him then dump him in the river but the weak speech followed by leaving bennet in the rain didnt sit well with me.
      I was really hoping is that what the dectectives saw in the meat locker at the end is the missing black girl from the muslim mosque and a possible serial killer situation could emerge or at least serve as some excitement. But i dont believe the FBI would be storming in for that reason. A terror plot sideline would seriously annoy me. This show doesnt need to go there. It just needs to be taut and thrilling and compelling, something it hasnt been since the first few episodes.

    • Cdawnmitchell

      Amber Ahmed is played by Ashley Johnson. She was the youngest daughter in Growing Pains about a hundred years ago. She’s grown into a lovely young woman and a decent actress.

    • Lynn Favin

      what was the clue in the super 8 video from the other week?

    • http://profiles.google.com/dorothymichael Dorothy & Michael n/a

      The rain shots were terribly inconsistent this week. Can’t recall specifically now, but Stan was outside with the boys, and then they cut to a shot with Mitch at the window. It was pouring in her shot, but completely dry with Stan. Weird, and they should have caught that – continuity person not paying attention! We too are struggling to maintain our interest. We were extremely pissed when Rubicon was cancelled. It was heads and tails better than this show now that I’m seeing more eps of The Killing.

      • Moriginal

        Re the inconsistent rain — I thought the same thing. I also thought “oh no, their socks are going to get soaking wet!” when they had to take their shoes off by the entry-way rug in the mosque. But nope, dry as a bone inside and outside.

    • R4L

      What I am reading mostly is the pull between instant gratification and investment. This show unlike other shows does not hit you over the head, but forces you to think about all the characters outside of the usual 2dimensional uncharacter driven shows of the past 20 years. There was a time when people actually watched Miniseries without flipping channels. You have to watch with you eyes and listen with your with your ears to appreciate a show of this calaber. This is why most shows coming from abroad are actually interesting and are remade in the US only to be watered down and simplified. This is one show that treats its audience as if they have any intelligence.

    • Rsenoff

      You can download them from this site:

      http://stopwaite.com/tv-show/485-the-killing-s1-dvdripxvidengsubs.htm

      There are 20 episodes. The link to each episode is the one that starts…”http://fileserve…”

    • Anonymous

      Re the inconsistent rain — I thought the same thing. I also thought “oh no, their socks are going to get soaking wet!” when they had to take their shoes off by the entry-way rug in the mosque. But nope, dry as a bone inside and outside.

    • Anonymous

      Re the inconsistent rain — I thought the same thing. I also thought “oh no, their socks are going to get soaking wet!” when they had to take their shoes off by the entry-way rug in the mosque. But nope, dry as a bone inside and outside.

    • Lynn

      I totally agree. After the first episode, I thought we were in for some amazing TV. When the politican (who cares what his name is at this point) and the girl had sex IMMEDIATELY after the other guy left the room, I let out a groan and not in a good way.Whenever a show is throwing in random riduculous sex scenes, (they stripped down before even waiting a second to make sure the guy was gone for god’s sake) the writing is in big trouble. It’s almost as if they don’t know who the murderer is and are winging it. We need to see more of the two detectives, the acting is great, but the writing, that’s The Killing, they’re killing this show, which initiallly looked promising.

    • Lynn

      I totally agree. After the first episode, I thought we were in for some amazing TV. When the politican (who cares what his name is at this point) and the girl had sex IMMEDIATELY after the other guy left the room, I let out a groan and not in a good way.Whenever a show is throwing in random riduculous sex scenes, (they stripped down before even waiting a second to make sure the guy was gone for god’s sake) the writing is in big trouble. It’s almost as if they don’t know who the murderer is and are winging it. We need to see more of the two detectives, the acting is great, but the writing, that’s The Killing, they’re killing this show, which initiallly looked promising.

    • http://jennylovestoread.blogspot.com Jennygirl

      I completely agree with you on everything above.   The whole wedding thing is played out, and also, on your last day, would the Police Department really assign you such an explosive case, kowing full well you were leaving to get married?  I would rather see her focus on her son than the fiance.  Also, her partner makes my skin crawl!  What is his deal?  Hope we find out the particulars.

      It’s actually all the secondary characters that have kept me guessing: Richmond’s campaign people, the creepy Larsen family friend, and of course Mitch.  Now there is a story waiting there to be told. 

    • http://jennylovestoread.blogspot.com Jennygirl

      I completely agree with you on everything above.   The whole wedding thing is played out, and also, on your last day, would the Police Department really assign you such an explosive case, kowing full well you were leaving to get married?  I would rather see her focus on her son than the fiance.  Also, her partner makes my skin crawl!  What is his deal?  Hope we find out the particulars.

      It’s actually all the secondary characters that have kept me guessing: Richmond’s campaign people, the creepy Larsen family friend, and of course Mitch.  Now there is a story waiting there to be told. 

    • http://onebluetree.blogspot.com/ Sara L.

      Yeah, finally caught up with this episode. I am becoming less and less enthralled with each passing ep, which is not good news. I can’t believe I actually miss Rubicon, which at least got better and better.  Oh well, maybe it will rally.