The Killing: Missing

Posted on June 06, 2011

About ten minutes into last night’s episode, we were saying things like “They’re not going to spend the whole hour on Linden’s missing kid, are they?” About 30 minutes into the episode, we were saying things like, “They’re not actually going to kill off her kid, are they?” About 45 minutes into the episode, we were saying things like, “They’re not going to tie her missing kid into the murder investigation somehow, are they?” Well, shut our mouths. The show has been so relentlessly formulaic that we couldn’t even conceive of the idea behind this episode: an hour-long exploration of Holder and Linden; their backgrounds, what motivates them, and how they relate to each other, with almost no movement at all on the investigative front. Not that the latter is all that surprising, since there’s barely been any real movement on the case in many episodes, but we have to give the creators credit for throwing us a curveball.

Despite our fears as to where the episode was heading and confusion at the abrupt change in direction, we found ourselves enjoying the hour immensely. There are too many secrets on this show and for the most part, we have no idea who any of these characters are except at the most banal level. That’s one of the many reasons why the show has turned into such a slog. It’s hard to remain engaged with a story when practically everyone in it is a cipher. We appreciated the blanks being filled in on Linden and while it may play into some stereotypes about people who grow up in the foster care system, that reveal did go a long way to explain why she’s so horrible at personal relationships, especially of the family variety. What made it interesting was that while she was inadvertently revealing to Holder the whys of her poor people skills, she was also revealing the hows as she treated him dismissively, angrily, or as if he didn’t even exist, all the while belittling him when it was quite obvious, even to her, that he gave up doing something else that day just to be a friend to her when she needed it.

But for once, it wasn’t all doom and gloom (even as both characters feared the worst). Over the course of the episode, they both developed a real rapport with each other and their scene in the fast food joint especially was crackling with chemistry (not of the romantic variety) and a growing mutual respect.

Actually, that last part may be a bit misleading. It seems to us that Holder has always respected Linden and in fact, is a bit intimidated by her. There’s an endearing puppy-dog quality when he tries to get her to compliment him on doing something right. If we want to psychoanalyze it, we’d say Linden is a stand-in for Holder’s sister, who he’s disappointed one time too many and whose good graces he desperately craves above all else. The scene on the phone where he tries to explain to her why he can’t make it while realizing it sounds EXACTLY like a junkie’s excuse was heartbreaking.

As for the Rose Larsen case, we did actually get a breakthrough and it was due to real honest-to-god good police work on Linden’s part. We thought the ATM runaround was a brilliant idea on her part. We seriously hope they’re not going to go off on a tangent about Native American tribal rights. Not that it isn’t a topic worthy of discussion but they blew their wad on the racism angle with the Muslim subplot and that was enough of a diversion for one season.

We’ve spent most of this season complaining about unnecessary diversions and red herrings and here we are praising an episode that was nothing but one hour-long diversion from the storyline. The irony is not lost on us. But we’d never call this episode unnecessary; quite the opposite, in fact. We absolutely needed these two characters to have a conversation and move forward in their professional relationship (and possible friendship). As viewers, we need to be given something to hold on to as we go forward and it looks to us like this episode will pay off down the line as the story reaches its climax.

And it hasn’t escaped our notice that the first really good and enjoyable episode in a long time was completely devoid of Larsen family misery porn or Richmond campaign scheming. If anything, this episode served to point out how weak the show’s format is. Sure, the idea of a television show exploring the rippling outward effects of one girl’s murder is interesting on paper, but when you’re stuck with one day= one episode, it means the story is slowed down considerably and the only thing you can do with the family is watch them be miserable. If there is a season two, we hope they ditch that format and let the story unfold naturally, letting the writers explore what they want and who they want without having to check in with every character every day of the investigation. Because when you do that, you give the characters a chance to breathe, and when they’re in the hands of – and this doesn’t get mentioned enough – a very talented cast of actors, the results can be fantastic.

[Picture credit: AMC TV]

    • Annegret

      I thought this episode was very strong, for the most part, but I think it came too late. I would have liked to have seen the Linden-Holder character buildup much earlier, perhaps at the midway point of the season.

    • Annegret

      I thought this episode was very strong, for the most part, but I think it came too late. I would have liked to have seen the Linden-Holder character buildup much earlier, perhaps at the midway point of the season.

    • Anonymous

      I thought the same thing going into the episode–now what?  Her son is missing?  My interest perked up because of how Linden/Holder interacted as real people.  The acting was intense.  I didn’t miss the Larson’s misery one bit–it was a relief!  I think Richmond’s hot shot male assistant (or so he thinks) did the murder, but who knows?

    • Anonymous

      I thought the same thing going into the episode–now what?  Her son is missing?  My interest perked up because of how Linden/Holder interacted as real people.  The acting was intense.  I didn’t miss the Larson’s misery one bit–it was a relief!  I think Richmond’s hot shot male assistant (or so he thinks) did the murder, but who knows?

    • Anonymous

      Really? The entire episode, I had the same questions as you guys did… but I was PISSED when I realized that this would be an episode about finding the snot-nosed brat of a kid who they would never, ever kill off.

      What I want is a Rosie only story. I need to be more invested in her. I’d rather see them do an entire episode showing what she did up until that moment, her interacting with the other characters, figuring out who is lying and who isn’t. I dont need to be invested in Jack. 

    • Jennifer Jacobsen-Wood

      I really enjoyed this episode.   I think the series would have been better, overall, if similar scenes had been interwoven into narrative on an ongoing basis.  The show could have still left most facts regarding the murder as a cipher, but enlightened us way more about the characters.  For example, the mom, Mitch, we don’t really know anything about her pre-Killing (other than the very first ep, where you get the impression she and Stan had a good relationship.)   

    • Jennifer Jacobsen-Wood

      I really enjoyed this episode.   I think the series would have been better, overall, if similar scenes had been interwoven into narrative on an ongoing basis.  The show could have still left most facts regarding the murder as a cipher, but enlightened us way more about the characters.  For example, the mom, Mitch, we don’t really know anything about her pre-Killing (other than the very first ep, where you get the impression she and Stan had a good relationship.)   

    • Joshau Norton

      At one time it would have been a stretch to even think this, but it’s happened before – please do not develop some kind of love story between Holder and Linden.  Much better is a “Law & Order: SVU” format with just male and female partners kicking ass and taking names.

      The scene of them at the fast food place, with Holder trying to explain his convoluted moral philosophy, then transitioning into a more sincere discussion of his meth addiction, was a good moment for these two characters, who usually felt like just another pair of chess pieces in a not very exciting game.

      If the writers had to spin their wheels earlier in the season, I’d have much rather we got more scenes like this with the two partners getting to know each other while waiting for a piece of evidence to be analyzed – than the campaign nonsense, or so much time devoted to Bennet, etc.

    • Joshau Norton

      At one time it would have been a stretch to even think this, but it’s happened before – please do not develop some kind of love story between Holder and Linden.  Much better is a “Law & Order: SVU” format with just male and female partners kicking ass and taking names.

      The scene of them at the fast food place, with Holder trying to explain his convoluted moral philosophy, then transitioning into a more sincere discussion of his meth addiction, was a good moment for these two characters, who usually felt like just another pair of chess pieces in a not very exciting game.

      If the writers had to spin their wheels earlier in the season, I’d have much rather we got more scenes like this with the two partners getting to know each other while waiting for a piece of evidence to be analyzed – than the campaign nonsense, or so much time devoted to Bennet, etc.

    • Joshau Norton

      Is it just me or has the weather turned into a sort of self-parody with frequent monsoons and an utter lack of umbrellas?

    • Joshau Norton

      Is it just me or has the weather turned into a sort of self-parody with frequent monsoons and an utter lack of umbrellas?

      • Annegret

        Yeah. I laughed out loud when Holder left the message for his sister about wanting to attend her kid’s parade. That must have been one soggy bunch of kids.

        • http://www.facebook.com/aaronfrey9 Aaron Frey

          No one in the Northwest uses an umbrella. It’s just too cumbersome to carry one everyday.

          • A M

            Nitpicky and off-topic, but just for the record: I was born and raised in Seattle, and I carry an umbrella with me everywhere, nearly year-round – they make purse-size umbrellas nowadays, yknow. Also, every woman I know (with a rain-soluble hairstyle, that is) who lives here also carries a small umbrella basically all the time, along with most guys.
            I only point this out because I am forever hearing the “Real Seattlites don’t use umbrellas” thing and it’s just so weird, to me. And to my mind kind of makes us Northwesterners seem a little touched in the head, like we don’t even notice when we’re wet or something. Of course we use umbrellas! It’s fuckin rainy here!
            …Not as insanely monsoon-rainy as they portray it in The Killing, but soggy nonetheless.

          • Anonymous

            I grew up in Seattle, and no, we didn’t carry umbrellas most days, when there is mere drizzle and not RAIN-rain. But as AM has pointed out, this is monsoon-rainy (NOT Seattle rain), and yeah, people would be carrying umbrellas in these circumstances. That might be pretty sissy for cops, though.

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

            I moved to Seattle and was made fun of for having an umbrella.

      • Anonymous

        With a remarkably dry Linden getting back in the car after every stroll she took thru the monsoon. Girlfriends hair must have some kind of auto-dry setting.

    • Anonymous

      The only thing keeping me returning to this show at this point is the acting and the cinematography.  I lost interest in the mystery since the show seems to be about anything BUT solving that thing. It’s like our detectives actively avoid working on it.  Nobody bothered to Google ‘Adela’ or consider it was a club, band, street or … say, a ferry?  Not one person in the police department could recognize that huge key ring as a logo and there was no method for researching what the keyring or logo belonged to?  C’mon. 

      Since I’ve given up on them solving the murder anyway, this episode was well received by me.  As good as the acting is there was only so much for the actors to work with to give these characters any depth until now.  This little episode gave us a lot more about both Linden and Holder — not so much with ‘secrets’ about him but his outlook on life, friendship, family and responsibility.  Jack gone missing was never the point. Linden’s reaction was. It appeared she didn’t care much about her son before — which is a huge fault for a female character to have on tv. Now we see why it appeared that way, saw her sincere worry and how she dropped her obsession with the case when she heard Jack was missing. 

      I add my voice to the chorus:  this kind of episode was needed a while ago. 

    • Lori B

      I had the opposite reaction.  Too little too late.  Haven’t gotten to know Linden enough to care about her childhood or her son.  The series opened with her standing for the last time in the condo she had sold, and yet the Linden I’ve seen doesn’t even seem capable of buying and furnishing a condo. As for Jack, he’s only been interesting when he’s interacting with Holder.

      For me last night was a different form of misery porn, about two characters I have learned, week by week, not to care about.  I was totally engrossed in the pilot and the first few episodes, but last night I was aware at all times that I was watching a teleplay with two actors (albeit excellent actors) on sets, in costumes.

      The show has been renewed, and it was nominated today for some new television award (best drama, Enos, Michelle Forbes).
      But week by week I’ve learned not to care about any of it, even Joel Kinnamon, so just tell me who killed Rosie and I’ll be moving on.

    • MilaXX

      I actually enjoyed last night’s episode. I think what I have to wrap my brain around is that this show isn’t really about the murder investigation, it about these people; Linden, Holden, etc….. the only thing is I’m really starting to like Holden more and more, but also think Linden is a bit of a jerk. Yes, I know, attachment theory and all that, but she’s starting to bug.

      For some reason I also began to wonder who her son’s father is and I hope it’s not the rich jerk Richmond got the money from.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513945580 Megan Patterson

      Since the American version was set in Seattle, I think the Native rights angle INSTEAD of the Muslim one probably would have been better.
      I’m still not sure if I really like this show or not. I am reserving judgement until the season is over and I have watched it all in a row.

      • Josette Arvizu

        I thought that moment where the casino CEO gave it to Linden for her ignorance about tribal soviergnty and jurisdiction was awesome.  Many people don’t know much about Native tribes’ self governance and separation from local law enforcement, so it was nice to see that included in a pretty popular show.  I thought that part was necessary though I’m glad they didn’t turn it into yet another tangent that dead ends. 

        • Lattis

           “I’m glad they didn’t turn it into yet another tangent that dead ends.”

          *cough* give them time.

    • Anonymous

      I really hope there’s a season 2. I could watch the Linden and Holder Show for a very long time.

    • Anonymous

      “The scene on the phone where he tries to explain to her why he can’t make it while realizing it sounds EXACTLY like a junkie’s excuse was heartbreaking.”
      I thought that scene was pretty contrived. Why on earth didn’t he just tell his sister that his partner’s kid had gone missing and he was helping her look for him? Any mother would understand the importance.
      As for the casino scene; that was also pretty contrived. As soon as the casino manager shut down Linden’s attempts to get information all Linden had to do was tell her they were going to block all entrances and exits to the casino (and therefore Indian) property and grill her customers coming and going instead and she’d have got all the access she needed. As high-profile as Rosie’s murder has become, nobody would have been as obstructive as that casino manager. Really bad PR potential. I had the same reaction as you — we aren’t going to explore Indian gaming rights now, are we?
      IAs for the Jack storyline, I had the opposite reaction to you guys. I almost couldn’t finish watching the episode I got so tired of such an unneccessary diversion as a kid gone missing. There were about 7 minutes total of the whole story that provided some interesting/useful information about Holder’s and Linden’s history and/or their relationship. The rest was just more soaking wet misery porn — this time starring Linden instead of Mitch. Bleh.

      • Josette Arvizu

        …Except that the lands and perhaps even some of the waters are tribal controlled.  Even if Linden could get an order to block the ferry access from the non-tribal shore (and her commanders hasn’t been all that cooperative so it’s doubtful), she doesn’t have the resources to question everyone. She only has her partner. And the tribe would raise hell if their access to their tribal lands from Seattle was limited in any way by a local police force.
        As far as the casino manager’s obstruction–I believe that.  I work in with tribes.  The worse thing you can do when approaching a tribe is make demands.  As for bad PR–Seattle is home to a lot of urban violence against Natives,, including a shooting of an Indian carver who had his carving knife on him by a Seattle cop just last year. That hit the national news. Yeah–so back story is that Natives in Seattle aren’t going to just lay down and take it when local law enforcement tries to take over.

    • Anonymous

      Enjoyed having Linden ‘exposed’, as it were, in pared down clothing — not swamped in her usual sweaters and fleece — all the better to enhance the episode’s exposure of both her history and her mother-self . . .

      Her clothing also accentuated her size relative to Holder, and (charmingly) that brisk, purposeful, slightly splay-footed tick-tock walk of hers.Had to chuckle at their almost post-coital (post-tiff) cigarettes when Linden returned to the car after losing her temper at Holder.

        

    • Anonymous

      Though it was daft that an identical-sounding boy was found dead that very night, Linden crying to get near the body was an eerie echo of the most effective moment to date — in the first episode, the amazing photography as the car is raised out of the water and the emotional punch of Stan crying out behind the police barricade.

      It was of some interest that based on the clip in the opener and other parts of this episode, it appears that Jack is not in fact Linden’s son. Instead he is the son of a previous murder victim from a case of hers; his father murdered his mother; the kid (six years old at the time) had nowhere to go, would have ended up in the foster system like Linden, so she took him in. The father he visited last night was then presumably his mother’s killer in prison.

      It’s a characteristic of The Killing that it spends ages on dull character studies with terrible dialogue, but slides over interesting plot points in seconds.

    • Lattis

      Wow, I got this one wrong. Last night I actually said out loud, “Boy, I’ll bet Tom and Lorenzo are gnashing their teeth about this episode.” Because, you know, it was a nearly complete diversion from the main mystery. . . 

      What I kept thinking about last night was the contrast between Linden the “bad mom” and Mrs. Larson, “good mom.” When Jake went missing from school, Linden dropped everything and searched like a madwoman, pulled every string she could, etc. She called his phone incessantly until she tracked it down – she called his friends. When the Larson’s got home, Mitch didn’t get in touch with Rosie, didn’t try to contact her for a day. I don’t think anyone has mentioned Rosie checking in with her parents at any time during the weekend of the murder. (I know Rosie was 17, Jake is 13, but that still seems weird to me.)

      They have practically canonized the grieving Mitch. And poor Linden . . . her partner says to her, after finding out she was a foster care kid, “Well, no wonder you’re a bad mom.” Ouch. Made me laugh . . . but, ouch. Anyway, Linden’s the one who threw herself like a bulldog into finding her son. And then, she controlled herself, and she sat down and communicated with him. 

      Well, maybe they’re both bad moms – it doesn’t seem like Mitch had a clue what Rosie was involved in.

    • Jennifer Coleman

      I enjoyed this episode & mirrored your 10/30/45 minutes in comments, but also added in surprise at the halfway mark that this type of main character study episode is the third to last one. It’s getting pretty clear this show will not get the standard murder mystery wrap-up, but for the sake of getting invested into the main characters to carry along the season, I wish we had this ep about 3 weeks earlier. If they wanted to have an impactful late-season exposition of Holder & Linden, maybe they should’ve made the characters even more inscrutable throughout the series with focus a bit more on Rosie.
      You Seattleites are bad-ass – you have children’s parades in pouring rain!

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

        Another weird quality of Seattle is it can be pouring in one neighborhood, dry the next. Things blow by quickly and depending on your relationship to the sound or the lakes or whatever, your weather can be different than 1 mile away

    • vmcdanie

      This episode needed to happen a few weeks ago. I’m still watching but I’m not invested in anyone*.  I did find the placement of the ep in the scheme of things odd. They just built some steam up last week (FINALLY) with the Larsens: what’s up with the sister, where did their money go, is Stan going down for murder?

      Nevertheless, your recap made me appreciate the episode more. I was impressed by the acting but once again, I have no emotional connection to anything on screen*.

      And GOD, how great was it not to have the “Let’s check in with the Richmond campaign” sequence?

      *except Holder. He’s holding this thing together, no pun intended.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Catherine-Rhodes/602850414 Catherine Rhodes

      I agree with Jennifer below who suggested the series would have been better if this kind of episode had been interwoven with the other plot threads all along. Absolutely true. We needed this to be happening from ep 1 as character development on the two leads. While I enjoyed this episode, it seemed heavy and leaden just dropped into the series a few laps from the end.

    • Anonymous

      If it would stop raining once in a while it would be great! That and solving the murder, of course. I agree that this weeks show was good. It’s going up to 100º today, maybe I’ll rewatch it tonight to cool off.