The Killing, Episode 6: What You Have Left

Posted on May 02, 2011

“We’ll get through this.”

You’ll have to forgive us, kittens. With the launch of the new site, we didn’t get to watch this episode a second time, like we normally do before posting our thoughts. If we’re fuzzy on the details, we have no doubt the minions will let us know.

Okay, let’s see if we’ve got this straight. Some guy across the street happens to see Rosie pounding on the door to Bennet’s apartment building the night of her murder. Also, slightly creepy guy with a telescope later sees Bennet and a smaller person carrying what appeared to creepy guy to be a body wrapped up in something. This is all a little too perfect, wouldn’t you say? Especially with seven more episodes to go?

Not that we believe the Ahmeds are suspects for a second. It’s just that they, like characters before them and no doubt characters after them, have been revealed to have hidden contacts, relations, and agendas that cast them in an extremely suspicious light. There’s definitely a classic murder mystery format to the plot, but revealing a new suspect each week – in this case, Bennet’s wife – and peeling back more and more layers -(costume party, late night visit to teacher, running through the park away from her assailant; face it: Rosie got around the last night of her life) it gets further away from a modern police procedural in the L&O mold and more like an Agatha Christie mystery cross-referenced with Twin Peaks. Murder on the Pacific Northwest Express. We’re not saying we’re disappointed; just that this wasn’t the direction we thought the show was going to go in, as it pertained to the murder investigation. We’re still invested in the outcome and wondering what’s going on, but our curiosity at this point has more to do with explaining how the Ahmeds didn’t kill Rosie so the story can move on to the next suspect with a damning secret. We saw Rosie running through the woods away from her assailant, so it doesn’t seem likely Mr. Rear Window saw her body being carried out by the Ahmeds.

We honestly wish we could say our curiosity extends to the Richmond campaign, especially because the three principles in that subplot are doing good work, but really, our investment in this part of the story is faint. This is at least partially fueled by the inconsistencies in Richmond’s character. One week he’s a political mastermind, the next week he’s not just walking into a rhetorical trap on live television; he’s practically setting the bait himself. The way he handled the debate sure puts into question any idea that he’s an adept politician, let alone a viable candidate. In any real world setting, his campaign would be over at this point. But again, we have seven more episodes. Clearly, his story is going to continue. We’re starting to think that the drawn out pace of this series is hampering our enjoyment of it in some ways. We can’t get as invested in the plot twists because we know there are more plot twists coming just because there’s so much story left.

It’s the same thing with Linden and her declarations that she’s leaving, she really means it this time so don’t try and stop her, she’s out of here, on the next flight, hasta la vista, baby. Just stop. Unless they plan on writing her out of the story or having her solve the case from hundreds of miles away, just stop. We know she’s not leaving.

Strangely, even though we said last week it was verging on misery porn, it’s the Larsen family who keep us most invested in the story. Michelle Forbes is simply knife-through-the-chest painful to look at, so great is the grief and shock etched on her face. The scene in the bedroom with the cufflinks was both sad and beautiful in its weighty casualness. And it seems to us that the most interesting parts of the story are going to center around them and their secrets. What’s the deal with Mitch’s sister and Jasper’s father? Obviously there was some sort of past connection there. And why did Stan refuse to shake his hand? What’s this have to do with Stan’s past ties with organized crime?

Maybe we need to let go of the idea that this is a murder mystery, even though it’s structured like one in many ways. Actually, we’ll amend that: it’s not structured like a murder mystery because a murder mystery wouldn’t be throwing out a new suspect every 30 pages in the earliest chapters. Reconsidering it, we think this is a story about a murder and the people it affects which utilizes typical murder mystery tropes (hidden messages, secret rooms, unknown relationships). In other words, it’s a show about a cop torn over her life choices, or about an idealistic politician fighting for what he believes in and crawling through the muck of politics, or its about his brittle lover, or his weaselly campaign manager. It’s a show about a grieving family and how the murder seems to be uprooting a lot of bad stuff in their pasts. It’s probably going to be a show about a teacher and his messy personal life in a week, and then a week after that, it’ll be a show about the asshole rich ex-boyfriend and his asshole father or some other peripheral character who’ll get the spotlight once their secrets come out.

If we sound like we’re complaining, we don’t mean to. We definitely enjoy each episode, even if there are times we squirm with impatience over repetitious aspects. Maybe it’s to the show’s credit that it manages to intrigue us while at the same time puzzling us as to how to approach it.

As for Wild Theory Gulch, we’re a little dry this week. We’ll say this:

* Richmond becomes an odder and harder-to-pin-down character each week, which immediately makes him far more suspicious in our eyes. Discuss.

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