Monday, June 13, 2011

The Killing: Day 12

Oh boy.

It seems The Killing is about to unveil it’s killer, and if what we’ve been led to believe in Beau Soleil is true, than it has fallen into the cheapest, paper-thin cliché detective stories employ.

It’s something I like to call the “Special Guest Star Corollary."

For example – I love Law & Order. I even enjoy the “Ripped from the Headlines” shows they relied on heavily. But, the flaw it magnified hundreds of times over was the special guest star they would commonly bring in. It didn’t matter who it was – if the show was advertising someone fairly famous guest starring on the show, 95% of the time that was the murderer. And so if the police didn’t get to their door early in the episode, the suspense of the whodunit became flimsier and flimsier as the hour dwindled. Now, there was plenty else to like in Law & Order, so they could get away with it. They had a built in audience that they established early, that would tune in regardless. So it worked for them.

But now comes a 13 episode show based on a Danish show, with nothing established (other than it is airing on AMC, and, if you drink the AMC Kool-Aid, nothing but quality runs on that network, never mind the fact that it indirectly calls movies like The Bone Collector and Batman Forever classics – and that’s a contradiction that intrigues me) for the audience to lean on. In fact, the only thing the audience really knows is that the show will follow the investigation of a murdered girl.

And in the beginning, that’s what we get; a show that sets up the murder and principal characters very well. Oh sure, there are some diversions along the way, but for the most part, the premiere does it’s job well. Yes, there’s a campaign for mayor going on, but I’m sure that will tie in.

Well, now here we are, at episode 12. One away from the finale. And yes, the mayoral campaign has been tied in. Unfortunately, episodes two through eleven didn’t hint at the connection at all, so it’s been a little jarring.

Unless you employed the Special Guest Star Corollary from the beginning.

Yes, you are correct that Billy Campbell is not a special guest star on the killing, but he’s easily the most recognizable name in the cast. Which means he’s going to have a significant role to play in the series. Which means all of us who dismissed him from the get go (myself included), no matter how sound or logical our reasoning may have been, ignored what was probably the most glaring and obvious finger pointing since before the show even started.

The Special Guest Star Corollary.

And while we still have an hour to go in this murder investigation, it’s really looking like our mayoral candidate is guilty as sin. I guess a hail mary can still be called and they can go a different direction (my favorite suspect is certainly in the mix, but seems like such a red herring that I’d be surprised if it were him), but I’d be surprised if they did.

And I think that’s been the overwhelming problem with this show. They’ve spent so much time making sure we didn’t have any idea who the killer was until the very end that it weakened the middle episodes. I mean the investigation Holder and Linden are running is nothing any reasonable person would say is “by the book.” And the diversion the show took with Bennet and the Larsens took too long to deliver any suspense; everyone knew it wasn’t him based on the fact that he was fingered by the police in episode 3. Why we had to wait 3 more episodes to completely exonerate him made no sense.

I wanted to like The Killing, and I think I gave it a fair chance. I just wish it had rewarded me for doing so.

We start with people digging, at night, in the rain. A skull is found, and we learn this is the waterfront project the current mayor has invested so much time into. Through television clips and Jamie’s cracks, we learn it’s a burial ground, which will immediately sink the project, and apparently the mayor’s bid for re-election. I guess. This was all confusing and disjointed to me (though I am also trying to tend to a 104 degree fevered two year old, so I may have missed an item or two), and not a little bit convoluted. I understand the construction was a big part of the mayor’s campaign, but it’s not like he killed a hooker or anything. Couldn’t he simply suggest that the burial ground is sacred, work to preserve it and get some votes that way? Is that crazy? Should I be a campaign manager?

Linden is talking on the phone with her deadbeat husband as she’s getting into the police station. She’s not happy Jack was with his father. Thank God this is just being done on the phone. We don’t need any new characters introduced in the eleventh (twelfth?) hour. She keeps talking and Holder shows up to with the security camera footage of a sexed up Rosie. She’s been making large deposits at the casino ATMs, only not into her personal account.

Over at Richmond HQ – they’re celebrating. Apparently this is going to blow up the current mayor’s reelection bid, which makes me think Seattle politics are pretty sophomoric. But enough about the politics – Drexler is back in the picture! He’s having a party to commemorate the sinking of the mayor’s campaign, and he’s invited Richmond. But Richmond, having gotten Drexler’s 5 million already, isn’t too excited to be around him, so he suggests Jamie go in his stead. We need someone there to let the audience in on some of the most ridiculously contrived creepiness I’ve ever seen on television. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Oh good, we’re about to catch up with the wreckage of the Larsen family. Mitch is going over the books in an attempt to figure out where the missing money went. Janek calls and leaves a message for Stan, casually mentioning the money he lent him. Mitch is none too pleased, which is why she probably didn’t pick up the phone when Stan called asking about the kids. Why this angle is coming back, I can’t answer, other than to guess it’s a flimsy attempt to throw some suspense at certain characters? This show has established no rhythm so I have no idea.

So whose account was Rosie depositing all that money into? Aunt Terry’s! Linden and Holder go off to question her about it. She’s not very forthcoming and not a good liar at all. And while this scene did nothing to advance the plot (since there’s another one with the exact same characters coming up shortly that does advance the plot) I still enjoy these moments because of Holder, or more specifically Joel Kinnaman and how he portrays Holder.

Mayor Adams and Gwen meet on the street. He gives her an envelope. An ominous envelope, that contains dirt on Richmond. Dirt I assume he won’t use to get back into the race? Even though he’s currently paying off a former intern that he had an affair with? His scruples kick in now? Maybe they’re just setting it up for the finale, but his excuse of, “I’m doing this as because I’m a friend of your father,” doesn’t fit in with the character traits they’ve set hum up with. And it’s not like they needed him to be the one to deliver the pictures. The whole campaign plot line has completely deflated after this episode.

Holder and Linden meet up with Holder’s old undercover partner. She’s…colorful. I can’t wait until season 2 to see more of her. She’s working vice and she has some bits and pieces of information they can use to start connecting more dots of the escort angle they are now working. An angle that seriously should have been on the table since episode 1, no? A young girl found in the trunk of a car (of a politician no less) with expensive clothes? Or am I just a silly armchair detective that’s seen too many Columbo episodes?

And now comes this week’s most ridiculous scene – and it’s really gotta be in the running for series’ more ridiculous scene, right? Jamie shows up at Drexler’s place, or a place that Drexler has rented out for a party. It’s not clear. What is clear is the ceiling, which is really the bottom of a pool…a pool filled with nubile young ladies. Jamie, taking it all in and coming to the realization that this is not the kind of party he wants to be at, then spies Drexler wearing a robe and a speedo. This is the second time they’ve subtly suggested Drexler is gay…or at least that’s the vibe I got. The first was the scene where he was at an underground fighting ring, and now this one. Both times Jamie was involved too. And honestly, I have no idea what they’re trying to infer with any of the subtext here. The text of this scene though is quite clear – Drexler is a weird dude, has a thing for young, beautiful ladies, and at least knows the number for Beau Soleil, Seattle’s prominent(?) escort service?

Mitch visits Stan in prison. Although, perhaps “confronts” is a better word here. Mitch and Stan talking. Stan wants to know if she bailed him out and she said no, you know because of the whole money is missing thing. Then she brings up the Janek call. Then she brings up the gambling. Then she brings up that she thought he changed. Then she brought up that she’s sorry she pushed him into beating up an innocent guy. Oops, no she didn’t. I guess she forgot about that. But Stand didn’t, and he says as much. The whole scene was weird, as it was shot from behind Mitch the entire time, and we never saw her reaction. Which means of course it was important, and she’s probably the killer. Stan leaves and says, “at least I could admit what I did.” So are we supposed to take that to mean Mitch didn’t want to confess about the Bennet beating, or did she do something in the past that she refuses to admit. And why wouldn’t Stan know that they had no money? He’s the one that bought the house. Wouldn’t he have known there was no money for bail and you know, maybe tell Mitch? Or at least give her a heads up? Ugh, if I wanted the dysfunctional Waltons, I would watch the Waltons for 45 minutes, turn off the show and then come up with a plausible, dysfunctional ending to it in my head. And then probably post it to the Internet.

Heading back to the precinct who should be there but…good Chirst why – Linden’s ex. Who looks nothing like a deadbeat father, and more like an insurance salesman. Or a copywriter with a penchant for trench coats. He wants to be back in Jack’s life. She doesn’t want him there. This goes on for about 2 minutes and he leaves, and the only thing I can imagine they included this scene to add an yawning child custody subplot to keep a thread going in case they get picked up for Season 2. And before you scoff at such a crazy notion, read this link.

Checking out this Beau Soleil website, they realize it’s going to be difficult to find a picture of Rosie since the pictures all cut off the head. Luckily, they can identify Aunt Terry since she apparently can’t be bothered to own more than one sexy jacket (your opinion of “sexy” may differ from the show’s definition like mine did.)

And here’s the second Linden/Holder/Aunt Terry confrontation scene. Terry cries, and the detectives figure out Rosie must have checked out the site a few days before her murder. They also get the nom de plume of a bad seed who likes to talk about how it would feel to drown. Hey, didn’t Rosie drown? Wait a minute…

Over at Richmond campaign HQ, people are asking him some tough questions. And I’m not sure who they’re supposed to be…some political group? The press? But there are 3 things that seem important that come away from this:

  1. 1. He denies any responsibility for leaking the intern affair story
  2. 2. He speaks lovingly about his wife when asked, seemingly for the first time publicly
  3. 3. Gwen is getting a slightly different picture of him than she at first thought

This show really has problems with identifying characters! We’re now with Stan in jail, talking to who I can only assume is some sort of court appointed psychologist. Stan scoffs at the notion than talks about a dream (I’m pretty sure it was a dream, though they definitely established some ambiguity around it. I don’t know what to think anymore).

Holder and Linden refreshingly do some police work and track down the escort service in order to find out who this “Orpheus” character is. Apparently the service is being run out of a sneaker store. I will never walk into a shady sneaker store again without wondering what’s going on in the basement. Actually let me rephrase that. I will never walk into a shady sneaker place for the first time and not wonder about what’s going on in the basement. Actually, let me rephrase that one more time. I have never not wondered what was going on in the basement of a shady sneaker place. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if the police need to bump up their arrest numbers, sitting outside a shady sneaker joint is probably going to help them out. Anyway, they find out Orpheus deleted his account the night of the murder, but they got his email. Saucy!

The deconstruction of the Larsen household continues, this time with Terry and Mitch squaring off…perhaps for the love of Stan? Does Terry covet what she sees (and there’s my totally obscure reference of the week. I’ll mail a cookie to the person that can name the movie)?

Linden writes an email to Orpheus, simply with the subject line, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID. If we had a few more episodes to go, would it have been crazy for a Jennifer Love Hewitt cameo here – even as the lab tech Linden calls to babysit her email account? Meanwhile, Holder is off on a sting to get the escort that complained about Orpheus. He gets her, but she refuses to name who Orpheus is, even though it’s pretty clear she knows him. Holder goads her to name Tom Drexler (as do I scream at the television) but she won’t, which probably sinks my theory that it was him.

Stan makes bail and he’s as surprised as we are when it’s Terry and not Mitch there to pick him up. Ironically using the money Rosie got from hooking? I’m not sure Stan would be happy with that if he ever found out.

Holder, sitting alone in the hotel after presumably letting the escort go with a warning, gets a call from said hooker, who leads him on a real weak scavenger hunt to find the identity of Orpheus. And if you haven’t figured out who it is by now, well – I guess the next five minutes of the show were exciting for you.

Linden sets off to speak with Richmond about Drexler, and is nice enough to warn him to keep his distance from him. Unfortunately, before they can strip down and get sexy (seriously, is it me or is Linden going out of her way to show up at Richmond’s place at night?) Richmond gets a phone call. Excusing himself, Linden decides to check in on the lab tech she has sitting at her computer. His employment isn’t doing anyone any favors arguing for a larger Seattle police budget. Anyway, she suggests he send the email again, to bug Orpheus, and when he does, what do we hear? Why it’s some sort of electronic alert sound – something you would hear when you received an email! It seems like such a strange coincidence that Linden asks him to send the email again – and yup, just like that, the alert dings again. In fact, it dings every time the guy sends one, leading Linden to hunt down Richmond’s computer – which seems to be in a closet.

Right around the same time, Holder is finding out the same thing Linden is…Orpheus is Richmond, and at long last the campaign and murder investigation fully intertwine. Is this a good thing? I don’t know – I’m not thrilled that there’s been no real hint that Richmond is secretly into prostitutes. I mean, even Drexler was given a creepy vibe early on. Richmond as the murderer feels cheap and somewhat of a gimmick.

The last shot of the show is Gwen finally opening up the package she got from the mayor (because why wouldn’t she wait all day to open up potentially explosive evidence on her mayoral candidate/current lover?) and finding a bunch of pictures of Richmond snuggling up to a brunette who may or may not be Rosie. But it wasn’t Gwen, and things don’t look good in the mayoral race of Seattle right now.

Suspect List

Christ, who cares…either we all think we know who did it, or none of us know because this show has given us nothing to go on and it will be completely random. With the pattern of this show, it really could be anyone. Oh all right…

Tom Drexler – Creepy, awesome, and having plenty of reasons to do it, it really feels like he’s a red herring. If this were Clue he’d definitely be the murderer in one of the endings, but it’s not, so I’m guessing he just loves to hit his ladies, and not kill them.

Any Larsen – Possible, and enough has been dangled out there so that if it does happen to be one of them, there won’t be a riot. I guess.

Bilko – He’s got the creepy factor, but I’ll be mad if he did it because it means the detectives are just really stupid.

Richmond – Ugh. It’s him, right? Unless…

Jamie – He did it to cover his boss’ tracks? Stranger things have happened.

So…thoughts? Leave ‘em in the comments.


gdr said...

I'm sticking with Stan as the killer with some help from Mitch. Janek is Rosie's dad, and Stan let Janek sleep with Mitch to pay off a debt. While Mitch was mopping a wet floor in episode 1, she was also cleaning up the crime scene. Larsens were behind the sneaker business and Beau Soleil. The 'shocking' tease that AMC is pushing us towards is the fact that Stan is also sleeping with Rosie, which is ok since he's not her dad.

Theory two... Amber & Bennett are involved. This is based on Amber writing the "Adela" note found in the Koran.

Jamie to cover up his boss' mess is a definite possiblity too. Gwen is too far removed from Richmond's indiscretions to be involved but Jamie knows all about them.

Longshot since we haven't seen him in forever is Jasper's dad. He and Terry possibly met on Beau Soleil, he could have been banging Rosie too.

Goose said...

Your theories leave a little to be desired. I guess I could see it being Mitch. She could have set Stan up to take the fall, but that would be cheap since there's been no suggestion of it.

John Haughey said...

That email scene really bothered me. We all know emails sit on a server until your client goes out and gets them. Usually every 10, 15, 20 minutes.

For each one to hit the inbox moments after being sent, one after another, is one of those little things that makes me glad Rosie's not alive to watch.

jewdyblume said...

Nice work, Goose. I've been pretty much hooked on The Killing, and I found myself agreeing with nearly every point you made. I think it's been clear since Day 1 that the prime suspect was Richmond. I mean, why the hell else even have the election as a subplot? What's more, they've done everything but tell us it was him, what with the "clues" they planted -- Rosie was found in one of his cars, he had ties to Bennett, the picture of him and Rosie, his resorting to mudslinging and leaking photos to win the election. All of it.

Now, a couple other points. The name Orpheus? Really? Way to be subtle, writing team. Just awful.

As far as the characters, Holder is easily the strongest. Interestingly, I found him grating when I watched the first episode. Now, I couldn't imagine this show working without him.

Finally, I didn't realize until I read your post that this was a remake. What's more, I didn't realize that it was set up to be a one-season arc. Had I known that, I would have many more complaints in terms of pacing and the like. For instance, did we need to wait till episode 11 (of 13) to show Holder and Linden bond? Odd choice. And as far as the aunt goes, she's been on Stan's dick the whole time. Is it only now in the upcoming finale that we're going to see something materialize? And speaking of which, where's Stan's old "boss"?

Anyway, nice job on the review, my man.

Goose said...

@John - Agreed, though I thought it was a nice little device to create suspense. Of course, since the escort already described Orpheus as a "soft spoken man," and Billy Campbell might have copywritten the "soft spoken" delivery, the viewer already knew (or really should have) he was Orpheus, so it was a little less suspenseful, and therefore easy to pick it apart as technologically stupid.

@JewdyBlume - Thanks. I've written a review of each episode so I've certainly picked apart the flaws. The mayor stuff is maddening, since early on the clues were so obvious (body found in the campaign car, connected to Bennet, etc.) that I wanted to believe they were setting him up to be innocent. And then to completely drop him as a suspect in the middle episodes seemed to support that notion, but now to bring him back at the end, well it feels like middle school thriller writing.

All that said, I wouldn't be surprised if he wound up as innocent. The Killing loves to set stuff up and then offer misdirection, and not only do I doubt they'll change that formula, I believe they'll ratchet it up for the finale.

I'm just mad that since it's been confirmed the show is coming back for season 2, we're are definitely going to get the inevitable Jack custody battle and Holder picking up the pieces of his life subplots...things i don't really care about.

jewdyblume said...

I guess my question is this: did the writers intend on/hope for a second season when they conceived this project? In other words, were they doing this as a one-off, or did they know/hope this would lead to more? I think it would have been way more successful as a one-off, as it would have allowed them to focus more on the case and character development instead of offering up a bevvy of subplots and characters I don't give a shit about. For instance, the guy Linden was supposed to marry? He's old, skeletal and unnecessary. Jack's dad? The rich boy and the meth addict friend in the sugar shack? There was just a lot going on, much of which now feels like one big ol' red herring.

Goose said...

@heady i have no idea. I do know there is a season 2 in the Danish show, so there's a precedent, but i also am having a hard time with seeing where a second session goes with this series. Is it a new murder with thesame detectives? Is it more aftermath? Will we see a new murder come out of this set of characters? I'm not sure i like any of those scenarios, and aside from Linden and Holder, it's possible that they have to come up with a completely new set of characters and all their backstories. And that is not this show's strong point.

John Haughey said...

It's been confirmed that "Terry", the part time hooker will be back. No idea what that means.

Anonymous said...

its the one person you left out of your suspect list...Gwen. she did it to get back at richmond. i've thought this all along and there's too many things that point out that she's set him up.

Goose said...

@anonymous Get back at him for what? Everything she would want vengeance for happened after the murder. Don't get me wrong, she definitely could be the murderer, I just don't know what the motive would be.

@John That is certainly suggesting that some of the murder investigation stuff will spill into season 2, which i think is a giant mistake.

gdr said...

I've heard that all the Larsens will be back. Not sure if that means there will be a cliffhanger on the whodunnit or not. My guess is that seasons 2's murder happens in episode 13.

Agreed on Gwen... she seems to be finding all this stuff out now, after the murder.

Back to Stan... maybe he killed Rosie and didn't know it. Janek had him dispose of a body and he didn't realize it was Rosie in the trunk. Amber knocked her out, somehow got her in the car, Janek had Stan dump the car. His dumping the car would explain why he's franticly rushing to the lake when he supposedly didn't know the cops were there.

Anonymous said...

Does Terry covet what she sees (and there’s my totally obscure reference of the week. I’ll mail a cookie to the person that can name the movie)?

Silence of the Lambs.....

Goose said...

@Anonymous Send me your address and I'll send you a cookie.

gdr said...

As we approach the final episode, I'll give my final analysis...
1) Stan killing Rosie - Rosie finds out that Janek is her father, Stan kills her before she tells Mitch who doesn't know herself
2) Amber (jealous of the young girl getting close to her husband), with Bennett dumping the body
3) Mr. Ames (Rosie found out too much about the waterfront so he had to kill her), and whose 'out of the country' alibis seem somewhat convenient) with Jasper and/or Kris dumping the body
Not a heckuva lot to go on, but that's my two cents.