Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Killing: Day 13

Apologies in advance if I skip over things in this recap. For previous recaps, my routine would be to watch it once for the enjoyment/pleasure, and then go back and watch it a second time and take notes. For last night’s episode however, I really didn’t feel like going back and watching it again.

I will reserve overall opinions about this episode and the series in general until the end.

Orpheus Descended (sounds like a classy porn title), starts off immediately where last week’s episode left off – with Linden caught red handed in front of Richmond’s computer. Aside from the “Orpheus” exposition (seriously, it’s like the writers never watched Lost and have to hit us over the head with their oh-so-clever naming conventions) the scene developed genuine tension, even though I’m pretty sure we all knew Richmond wasn’t going to kill Linden and roll her up in a carpet.*

*Semi-quick aside with no relevance to the story at hand – whenever I bring up bodies being rolled up in a carpet, I can’t help but think back to the story my mom once told me. My mother plays tennis roughly 75 million hours a week, and has standing court time with a specific group of women. When a woman couldn’t play due to a prior engagement or whatever, they would call a sub to make sure the other ladies could still play (if you didn’t already know, it takes 4 people to play doubles on a tennis court).

One morning, 3 ladies, including my mom, met at the courts as usual, and waited for the fourth to show up. Only she never did, and apparently no sub had been called. So the three ladies begrudgingly played Canadian doubles (something no tennis player ever wants to do) for awhile before calling it a day. My mother, annoyed that she had to stoop to such a level of substandard tennis, and also waste an otherwise beautiful morning, decided to get to the bottom of the missing player, by leaving a number of messages on her the offending woman’s answering machine. And yet there was still no response.

Until the next morning. When my mother opened up the newspaper.

It seems the woman, over the weekend had gotten into an argument with her lesbian lover (“I didn’t even know she was a lesbian!” was my mother’s first response) and been bludgeoned, stabbed, and then rolled up in a carpet.

My mother’s second response?

“Well, I guess that’s a good enough excuse to miss tennis.”

The moral of the story, (other than you should at least come to a better understanding of the way I am), is you really better have an excellent excuse of why you missed tennis/didn’t get a sub when playing with my mother.

At the height of the tension, Linden gets a call from Holder, and smartly lets Richmond know he is on his way over, in case Richmond was thinking of any chicanery. And as much as I’ve been down on the whole campaign storyline and mayor in general, I really think Billy Campbell pulled off the duality his character would need to portray a mayoral candidate who cares about the city by day/hooker hiring serial lover pedophiliac murderer by night thing. Definitely effective, and I stupidly thought we might finally get the payoff we’ve been waiting for.

Linden slinks out and meets up with Holder. Together, they start the process of linking Richmond to the murder. They start with the campaign car, a decent place to start – ON DAY ONE! Seriously, they’re just starting this now? Stan might have put Bennet in the hospital, but I’m thinking the detectives better shoulder some of the blame. Unless Bennet winds up being the killer.

Anyway, Linden notices the gas tank and figures out that it Richmond must have stopped to get gas during the night of the murder. A clever clue that again, SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIGURED OUT ON DAY ONE! Day two at the latest. It seems if you want to commit a crime, Seattle might be the place to do it.

Meanwhile, for whatever reason, the Larsen family storyline is still going. Terry drops Stan off at home, and while some people suggested a romantic tryst between those two (something that might have been interesting), nothing like that seemed o be brewing here. Which means some pivotal plot point will pivot on exactly that completely out of the blue in season 2.

Terry advises Stan to go inside and hug it out with Mitch, but Stan instead jumps in his truck and drives away, while Mitch looks on derisively from their apartment above. And it pains me to continue writing about all this, since what does all of this have to do with anything anymore?

The police chief is less than thrilled his detectives are looking at a now popular mayoral candidate as a murder suspect. He suggests to them they get their ducks in a row before bringing them in, and also says maybe they should do some actual detecting. Ha. Apparently the chief is now the greek chorus of the show.

Luckily for them, the early edition of the newspaper comes out, and the front page is a doozy…it has the names and faces of all the women Richmond has had an affair with, presumably since his wife died. And they all happen to look like Rosie. This is good enough for the detectives to go chase them down in order to get supporting evidence for their theory. Unfortunately, none of them are too forthcoming, and the one that is (a former campaign advisor), doesn’t believe Richmond is capable of anything dastardly. In fact, so sure is she that she high tails it over to Richmond headquarters to warn him the police are snooping around. But it’s Gwen who finds her, and seriously all this affair stuff comes completely out of left field, feels rushed and stupid, comes across as hackneyed. For 11.5 episodes we’ve been given a look into the character of Richmond (both a public and private look), and none of this has been teased, suggested, or hinted at. So now, we’re supposed to simply buy that Richmond isn’t such a nice guy? It’s a little hard to swallow.

Not for Holder and Linden though. They go off trying to track down the gas station they think Richmond stopped at on the murder night but are having no luck. Linden is getting frustrated and lets Holder know – but Holder has a theory. And at the time, while watching this, I felt this scene really resonated, and showed glimpses that the show had finally hit something of a stride. Sure, there are still plenty of misfires and WTF moments, but to get these two characters locked down is a step in the right direction heading into a second season. I especially enjoyed the “watching you do math is like seeing a dog with a hat on,” comment and I enjoyed that the scene implied that Holder had some detecting skills and that Linden was proud of him.

And yet how simple it is to destroy something you’ve taken awhile to build up.

Belko is back in the picture for a moment as he is cleaning his stuff out of the garage when Terry happens upon him. Terry, doing a 180 from previous meetings with Belko (and acting in a weird way since just the day before the police indirectly linked her to the death of her niece – but why would we want to show any fallout form that?) decides to extend an olive branch to Belko. An olive branch Belko of all people realizes is too late, and means nothing in the now broken home of the Larsens. When Belko is the voice of reason on the show, you know it’s time to maybe change your latitude.

Linden and Holder finally track down the gas station they believe Richmond stopped at. More importantly, the grizzled gas station attendant not only corroborates their theory, he goes one step further and tells them about a screaming girl. A screaming girl that Linden supernaturally realizes escaped the car and ran around back of the gas station – and ran into the woods to meet her eventual demise. This is all just so preposterous at this point that I have to laugh. The only thing that would have saved this scene for me would have been if Max Gail, or Wojo from Barney Miller fame, had been playing the grizzled gas station attendant like I had first thought before seeing his face. That would have given me a better excuse to post this:

... instead of shoehorning it in like I just did.

Unfortunately, the gas station didn’t have a surveillance camera. But that doesn’t stop Linden from calling out the force to comb the woods again. This time they find a shoe matching the other one they found with Rosie. The noose is getting tighter around Richmond’s neck!

Speaking of Richmond, Jamie and Gwen are talking, and Jamie is trying to get a read on Gwen since…really I’m not 100% sure what we’re supposed to take from here. That Richmond was cheating on her? I guess it’s possible, but it wasn’t made clear, unless I missed something. And it’s certainly possible I missed something since I was snorting heroin at this point to dull the pain of this show. Gwen assures Jamie she is a professional and that she’ll continue to do her job. As she leaves, Jamie confirms with Richmond that Gwen is “Ok,” as Richmond twirls his non-existent mustache, and ponders how awesome it would be to tie a damsel to some train tracks.

Linden goes to the chief with all their evidence…and he’s still not convinced the circumstantialness of it all will hold up. And I have to admit I agree with him. But then Holder comes out of the darkness with the smoking gun – a photo of Richmond time stamped the night of the murder from a tollbooth close to where Rosie’s body was found. Whew…for a moment there I thought we wouldn’t get closure and have to wait until season 2 to find out who murdered Rosie!

Linden gets all mad and shows us how much she’s involved in the case by showing up at Richmond’s and accusing him of the murder. They yell at each other some. Gwen hears it all go down. Then she goes and sits in her car in the parking garage. So does Linden. They chat. Gwen admits she was covering for Richmond, and that he was never really with Richmond the night of the murder.

Stan and Mitch finally talk. Well, that might be suggesting more than what happened. I mean, words were exchanged, but not a heckuva a lot was said. Ultimately though, Mitch leaves. Now, her leaving could be construed as some measure of guilt for something, and if you want to keep connecting the dots, it could suggest she knows more about Rosie’s murder. I’d love to say that we can count on the cops to have cleared the Larsens’ whereabouts on the weekend of the murder, but that would be suggesting actual police work was done during this investigation which, I’m sorry we can’t assume anything here. I also like to think that I could establish a decent argument as to why neither Stan nor Mitch could be the murderers, but with the preposterous, illogical plot swings this show has already taken, I’d just look like an idiot.

But wait…all the Larsen stuff is moot right? Because we got the murderer. Linden and Holder go down to Richmond’s speech and arrest him, despite his proclamations of innocence. Thankfully, we don’t have to believe him because we have a mountain of evidence against him. Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • Body was found in a Richmond campaign car
  • He asked a hooker if she ever wondered what it felt like to drown
  • He had a bunch of affairs with women that sorta kinda looked like Rosie
  • He knew Rosie
  • The woman is currently sleeping with told the police he came home the night of the murder “soaking wet”

Oh yeah, this guy’s Ted Bundy. Lock him up!

Whatever, he’s guilty as sin. Linden and Holder share a nice moment where she unofficially passes the torch to him, before… yes, that’s right GETS ON A FLIGHT TO WHEREVER IN CALIFORNIA. THIS SUBPLOT STILL EXISTS!

And all the while the cops are wrapping things up, Belko, obviously angered that his fake family has been torn apart, is planning a murder of his own. Richmond’s! He’s off to go Jack Ruby him as he is being brought into custody. Unfortunately, the screen goes to black before we know if he succeeds.

And while I know that was the last scene, I wanted to save the following to dissect in a little more detail…

Jack and Linden are actually on the plane to Wherever California (quick aside – I love that Jack was all upset that they were leaving just when he was getting to know his dad. Never mind that his dad lived in Chicago anyway so that it didn’t matter where he was. Apparently the writers ignored that.). Just as Linden is about to sit down, she gets a call on her cell phone…it’s from the someone in the Department of Video Footage Taken at Toll Booths, or something like that, letting her know that her request for the video footage can’t be processed because the video camera has been broken for like 2 months. But wait a minute…Holder already got that stuff, so what’s going on?

Cut to:

A comically framed shot of Holder in the passenger seat of a car (literally, the shot almost was a split screen, they went to so much trouble to conceal the identity of the driver) speaking to a mystery person about how Linden “bought” the fake pictures of Richmond.

And that’s how we end season 1 of The Killing.

Ok.

To say I was disappointed with this episode would be a slight understatement.

Why they chose not only to not 100% solve the murder of Rosie Larsen in this season makes no sense from a creative standpoint, nor from a ratings standpoint. Creatively, the show has already drawn out the case over 13 hours, when 7 would have been enough. The dead ends and blind turns the show took did little more than frustrate viewers; They certainly did nothing to advance the case, nor did they advance character development (And they made me use the word “nor” twice in one paragraph). From a ratings standpoint, I guess the argument could be made that viewers will turn into season 2 to find out who killed Rosie, but in this day and age of the Internet, I think that’s a false hope. I’m much more inclined to read about it, as I’m fed up with how the show treated me for 13 weeks. I don’t want to invest more time because I feel cheated and manipulated.

I think the biggest problem I have is what they did with the character of Holder. With this show, with so many characters, and so many suspects, the two detectives working the case have to be the ones the audience identifies with. They are also the only two characters the show took time to develop (I guess an argument can be made that Richmond’s character was developed as well, but his 180 degree heel turn at the end came out of left field, so really, how was he developed?) and then they go and throw it all away with a 5 second scene that comes out of left field and doesn’t feel like something the character would do.

And really, why exactly would Holder be involved? His backstory worked perfectly. In the beginning he was shady. Had they kept him at that level of shadiness for the entire 13 episodes, then yes, his heel turn would have worked. But they didn’t. They took all the things he did and went the sympathetic route, by turning him into a recovering addict. And then, they developed the relationship he had with Linden and made him a nice guy, going so far as to build him up as a hero (when he forsakes his own family to stay with Linden in her time of need). To then make him a conspirator in the murder case is nothing more than to throw a red herring into the mix to make the audience gasp. Only in this case, the gasp was one of anger.

Holder was the best part of the show. His character felt interesting and went against the grain of normal depictions of detectives on television shows. There was enough interest in him that we didn’t need a schlocky, drive-in movie type twist with him. Never mind the fact that him helping to frame Richmond makes zero sense. Just in the episode before, he was surprised to learn Richmond was Orpheus (we know this because he found that out when he was alone; so there would be no need for him to “pretend” to anyone that he was surprised. In fiction we have to trust the actions of a character when he/she is alone, otherwise the system breaks down. And yes, I understand the irony of saying this about a show that has broken many of the other traditional norms of fiction. Let’s just move on before I throw my computer out the window). So, we have to then assume he was reached by a shadowy figure, convinced and bribed to betray his partner, the police force and his new job in LESS THAN 24 HOURS. Because there’s been no hint before this that would make sense. Even though times he met with people in cars…if he were setting up Richmond then, why wouldn’t have steered the investigation toward him from the beginning? These are the logic bombs the showrunner needs to deal with – and deal with soon. Because season 2 is going to be a clusterfuck from a ratings standpoint.

But I digress.

I’m too tired to go into too much detail about the rest of the episode or even the series. If you want to get really angry about the direction it took, read this interview with Veena Sud, the showrunner for The Killing. I particularly enjoy the part about how he (she?) suggests they had the idea for this ending from the very beginning, regardless of whether they would get a second season or not.

Sure you did Veena.

So…will I watch the second season? My immediate reaction is to say no, that this first season and its ending was too inconsistent to invest my time. But I’m not so sure that will be my reaction once it comes around for round 2. I’m still invested in who killed Rosie, and would like a definitive answer to that. Obviously, in this Internet age it will be easy to find that out without watching the show, but there are also other plots I would like to see wrapped up. Perhaps it is like a gaper delay on the road, where you can’t turn away from the scene of a car crash – you want to see how bad it really is. I want to see who was in the car with Holder (it almost has to be the other mayor, or it really makes no sense), why Holder would do it, whether Belko succeeded in his Jack Rubiness, and just why Mitch would walk out on the rest of her family.

Though I really have no desire to learn anything about Linden’s ex, current or whatever.

So…hopefully you enjoyed these reviews/recaps and they helped vent your frustration toward the show. I know they did for me. I’ll be on the lookout for another show to do the same, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Suspect List

Everyone. Duh.

6 comments:

gdr said...

A few thoguhts on Holder...
1) he was always acting as an agent for the real killer, as he was always quick to prosecute the murderer du jour (tweakers, Stan, Bennett, Belko and finally Richmond).
2) he was always acting as an agent of a higher authority (FBI, state, or even the county cops). Go back to those quick cell phone conversations he had with whoever on the other end. Is he trying to advance his career and/or squash Linden?
3) what's the deal with the arabic he was speaking to his nephews or the arabic they spoke on their answering machine (episode 11)

I read an interview with Joel Whatshisname which made it seem like no one knows who the killer is as the cast has bets on who it is. Which contradicts an earlier interview I read in which Enos (grrrrrrr) said the real cops they worked with on the set figured out the murderer just by reading the pilot.

I have mixed feelings on the finale. Yes I feel cheated but I do like the teasers. With all the time I invested in this I would have liked them to throw me a bone, but this won't prevent me from watching Season 2.

Goose said...

Why would Holder be trying to take down Linden? She's not even supposed to be there? All he had to do was wait her out and he's fine.

Also, if he was in on this from the beginning...you're suggesting he's working with the real killer and throwing everyone off the track? That's borderline preposterous.

I'm not upset with the teaser aspect - I'm upset that they pretty much lied to the audience and suggested the case would be closed in one season. I thought the show had potential to go with a new case each season, with some remnants of previous cases sprinkled in - but this outcome is stupid.

Also, while I realize they set stuff up with Holder in the beginning to be shady/not on the up and up, they then answered that midway through the season explaining he was an addict. After that, they never suggested he was sketchy. So to bring it back that all along he was a bad guy is disingenuous. It just doesn't make sense. Why would he be so surprised at Orpheus' identity if he was working on the inside?

Divadebbi said...

Goose,
Nice recap...loved your Mom's tennis story, it made me laugh.

I'm cranky about all this, but will fall into line and watch season 2. What I was hoping for was closure and then another murder for Linden and Holden to solve. Liked where they evolved...I would hate to think of Holden gone.

The scenes with Stan were clunky and silly. Bennett's wife wouldn't have recognized the guy who pulvarized her husband?

Cool as a cucumber Linden going back to Richmond's office, accusing and berating him...not likely.

This and the episode that Jack went missing for 38 minutes were for me, the least satisfying of the season.

Looking forward to reading your other recaps! NO ONE I knew watched The Killing...I have been dying to talk to someone :)

Goose said...

@divadebbi - First thanks. Appreciate you took time to read my chicken scratch.

Secondly, I think the main reason I was disappointed with the Holder reveal was because he was the most interesting character, and had the most depth, and just a few episodes before the show had gone out of its way to make him overly sympathetic. Obviously, characters can have many different layers, but it just feels like a cheap stunt to completely turn him around like that. Even if he's just being "overly eager" to close the case, the implications of him tampering with evidence are a fireable offense.

jewdyblume said...

Okay, Goose. I finally got a chance to watch the finale, which means I just read through your recap. As always, nicely done. Don't know if you used to read my LOST blog, but I, too, did an episode-by-episode recap. Fun stuff.

Now, I don't want to get into the whole episode, but rather the single point you found most frustrating: the Holder reveal. For me, I had the exact same sentiment. I was wildly irritated that he could somehow be someone other than we thought. More specifically, I was disappointed to learn he could be a creep. He's far and away the best character/actor on the show, and to suddenly see him portrayed as anything but honorable in the last two minutes of the season was irritating as all hell.

So, here's my take. As you pointed out, it was in the penultimate episode that Holder, too, realized Orpheus' identity, meaning he hadn't been in cahoots to take down the mayor all along. Over the course of the season, it seems that Holder has developed an affection for Linden, and in seeing how moved she was by Rosie's death in the finale, and how badly she wanted Richmond brought to justice, what are the odds that he got someone in the department to forge the photos to ensure Richmond was taken in?

Additionally, I'm willing to bet that, perhaps, the person in the car was NOT the other mayoral candidate; rather, it was Gwen. This is her chance to not only get back at Richmond, but to usurp his power and follow in the footsteps of her father, the senator. This is her chance to screw Richmond over for hurting her, while simultaneously advancing her political career.

Just a thought...

Goose said...

@jewdyblume it's possible. But it's kinda convoluted. The evidence (a photo from a toll booth camera) suggests (at least to me) a deeper conspiracy. I could hear arguments on Gwen's dad getting involved certainly. I just feel like the entire thing was a copout - a cheap twist just for the sake of giving a cheap twist.