Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I’m at the mercy of ESPN/NBC programming; while I could head over to espn3.com and see all the matches, that simply isn’t going to happen. I’d rather sacrifice quantity for quality, and hope the producers at both those networks can handle the flipping back and forth between matches as well as I can handle a remote during March Madness. While my hopes aren’t too high, I remain cautiously optimistic.
The day starts bright and early, with a look at the Sharapova/Peng match. Sharapova is one tough cookie. Don’t let her golden locks and ample bosom fool you; put her hair up in a bun and give her a sharp, angular business suit and she’s one shoe knife away from trying to kill you. Her shoulder troubles finally cleared up after the last three years, you can hear her determination and desire to win with every grunt and scream.
Peng gamely attempts to counterpunch her, but Sharapova is in steamroll mode. With both Williams sisters playing below 100% and an otherwise wide open field, you can tell she feels this is her tournament to lose. I just wish she’d dedicated her dress design to Big Ben or something and kept her motif going throughout the Grand Slams.
Sharapova’s nemeses(?) saw action on Monday too; but with much different results. Both Serena and Venus were trying to reestablish their dominance of the women’s tour after bouts with injuries. Serena’s medical troubles had her on the bench for nearly eleven months, and while you could tell she was rusty in earlier matches, she still showed the tenacity and ferocity that helped her win 4 Wimbledon singles’ titles.
Alas, today it all caught up with her.
Her opponent on Manic Monday, Marion Bartoli, came in with a cunning game plan, and executed it to perfection. It is almost a cliché to liken high level sporting events to chess matches, but this match definitely had a mental edge to it that transcended the physicality of play. And I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, as during the match, Dick Enberg casually mentioned that Bartoli’s dad claimed she had a 175 IQ. He backed it up with a mention of how much she enjoys math as well. While I would have loved to hear a little more follow up on such a bodacious claim, NBC chose to go with restraint. Plato must be rolling over in his grave right now.
Regardless of her IQ however, she played the match of her career, and dispatched Serena in two sets. It mattered not that she plays the game like a meth addict on crack, tweaking between points, and practicing her ground strokes. It worked and gave her exactly what she needed to beat the defending champion.
Venus ran into similar trouble. To the casual tennis fan, her match against Pironkova must have looked like a straight set winner. But Pironkova owns Williams, much like Michael Mimbs owned Tony Gwynn (that might be the most obscure reference I’ve ever made – and that’s saying something). Pironkova knocked Williams out last year at Wimbledon, and this year was no exception. The most exciting moment of this match for me actually, was seeing Pironkova’s coach, Kiril Enchev (also her father), who looked like a very tan, very evil Don Adams. More shots of him would have helped me get over Venus’ attire, something I suggested one would see in the wardrobe department of a 1970’s ancient Greek porn parody.
A quick note about the Williams sisters before going on…obviously their talent and ability is mind boggling, and they have reached successes only a few have been able to achieve. Their power, athleticism and determination revolutionized women’s tennis. They’ve inspired countless young players to mimic their style. That’s why its disappointing to see them crumble when they play someone who is a lite version of themselves. They never seem capable of changing their game plan or style, instead choosing to hit the ball harder. In their youth, that certainly worked (I can’t argue with results) but I wonder if we’re now seeing the results of their affect on these younger players… players who can handle their pace and hit just as hard as them. Serena certainly put up a fight and tried to hit herself out of defeat, but Wiliams looked resigned to the fact that she was going to lose, and there was little she could do about it. It’s hard to watch champions like them at the twilight of their careers (and obviously injuries play a HUGE impact here, and most of my ramblings can probably be dismissed based on that) not alter their games to find new ways to win. And, to be fair, I also find Federer has the same stubbornness. As much as I abhor Agassi, he certainly knew what it was going to take for him to continue to compete, and to his credit, he worked at it like a mad man.
The number one player in the world was almost an afterthought to the television coverage, and since she’s never won a grand slam, it’s hard to argue with them. Wozniacki has the looks, but it’s yet to be seen if she has the game. I doubt anyone would pick her to win a tournament that had Sharapova, the Williams sisters and Clijsters in the draw. Wearing a dress that seems more appropriate for stepping off a plane in Hawaii, Wozniacki’s game is competent, if nothing else. And that’s not saying much. Her ability to run down shots and place her forehand and backhand where she needs to does her well in places like Indianapolis and Austin, but when it comes to the big stages, she tenses up and falls short. And though the she started out strong against Cibulkova, winning the first set 6-1, it seems that had more to do with Cibulkova’s nerves, as she came roaring back to take the next two sets and the match.
The men’s round of 16 did not go quietly into the night either.
Well, Djokovic/Llodra match did. Other than the second L in his name Llodra didn’t bring much to this match. Or perhaps Djokovic is playing that well. I’m not 100% sure. I think it was a case of Llodra being enamored with his results for the week, and was playing the “I’m just happy to have gotten this far,” card. With a strangely tight match against Baghdatis in the previous round, Djokovic had to feel good with his play.
And actually, the Murray/Gasquet match showed little drama. While I’m certain there was 100 Years’ War tension built into this match, it seems Murray will be able to sleep soundly after taking out the Frenchmen with relative ease. In front of the royal couple no less!
And the Mardy Fish/Thomas Berdych match didn’t offer us too much…at least the little we saw of it. Fish, at 31, has finally come into his own, playing in the best shape of his life and hungry. Bedych, on the other hand, always plays his matches looking as though his dog just died. Which I guess is possible, if he has an incredible affinity for dogs, and incredibly bad luck to lose one every time he plays. His emotionless, Lurch like demeanor makes it difficult to root for him. The one thing I enjoyed in this match was hit complete confusion in trying to return Fish’s serve. While I’m sure Fish has a capable serve, it’s not like it was Samprasesque; and yet Berdych lunged the opposite direction a number of times, in a weak attempt to return it.
Yet both the Federer/Youzhny and Nadal/Del Potro matches offered us some things to look at closer. Few gave Youzhny much of a chance against Federer, and with good reason; he was 0-10 against him. Oh sure, Gilbert in his continued attempt to sound “tennis hip,” (nothing to aspire to really) mentioned that players recently have “broken the duck” against Federer (I have no idea where this term has come from, and Gilbert’s use of it is annoying), but that was about it.
And yet Youzhny, who reminds me of Johan Kriek for some unknown reason (Jesus Christ, I’m a weirdo):
hung for a bit, and took the first set, before Federer kicked it up a notch and took the next three. Not really a big deal except that it is a big deal, because this wasn’t an early round where Federer can lapse in concentration and still turn it on. This was the round of 16, and up next for Federer is Tsonga, a player who will not wilt and seems to have more energy than usual (possibly because he hasn’t played a five set match this Wimbledon. This isn’t that big a deal until you realize that Tsongas isone of those players that always happens to find himself in at least one or two marathon five set matches at grand slams, wiping him out both mentally and physically. Not having that this year is going to be interesting to see what he can do against Federer.
But the match of the day had to be the Nadal/Del Potro match. Del Potro is tall for a tennis player; more arms and legs than torso, but not gangly (If I were Jason Isner’s coach I would simply send him VHS tapes of Del Potro labeled, “Um, yeah – you can do better.”). Coming off a wrist injury he seems to be about 90% back, and I predict he will hold the #1 spot in the very near future, once he gets some more match play under his belt.
Nadal is a tennis ninja, and quite possibly a werewolf. His speed on the court is quicker than everyone. His forehand looks ugly and painful through the swing, yet deadly and effective in its result. If he’s not a werewolf he might be a robot, as I’ve never seen him tire or give up on a ball. Of course, there are other sinister explanations to his abiltity as well, and while I hesitate to bring them up, this match almost forced me to.
The first blip from this match was the time violation the umpire called on Nadal; an egregious call against him, not because he violates the time rule (he does) but because it came out of nowhere and did nothing to speed up Nadal’s play. In fact, Del Potro made a point of telling the umpire it didn’t bother him, and made a show to Nadal that he hadn’t been the one to complain.
Nadal still took it out on him.
But then, late in the first set, Nadal seemed to have aggravate his heel, and later called for the trainer… at 6-6. Del Potro, upset at the timing, voiced his displeasure to the chair umpire.
Now, there have been whispers that Nadal takes tactically timed medical timeouts to get his head back in the game and get his opponent’s out of it. It’s happened before in big matches and grand slam events. But here’s the thing: if the rules allow it, it’s hard to suggest Nadal is doing anything other than using some slight gamesmanship. And while we’re here, what does “gamesmanship” even mean? It’s a blanket statement people use when someone, well within the confine of the rules, does something other people deem “unprofessional.” Some suggest Bartoli is using gamesmanship when she bounds around the court in between points; some suggest the women “grunters” are using gamesmanship to throw their opponents off. The problem is, if there are no rules against such things, people are going to use every little advantage to get/be better. It’s what people are taught when competing in sport. It’s tough to police without rule changes. So, Nadal might be doing it, and Del Potro might be mad about it, but at the end of the day, the two embraced after the match and not much more was said about it.
I will say this one caveat in defense of Del Potro: Nadal looked no worse for wear after the medical timeout. His movement was not impeded and he closed out that first set. Del Potro glared across the net a couple of times, as if to say, “I know what you did.” It made for added drama and tension.
It also let Nadal win the match.
I felt coming into this match, Del Potro had a chance to pull off the upset. Nadal was playing consistent but uninspired; Del Potrowanted to prove he belonged with the big boys. And for a few sets he did prove that, before Nadal got the fire back to play some great tennis and take over in the end. Does he have enough for another Wimbledon? Possibly. He still moves better than anyone. Federer almost looks disinterested at times, and while he’ll never admit it, I think doubt has creeped into his game.
Sure there were other matches, and other outcomes, but NBC and ESPN didn’t cover them and so I didn’t see them.
As far as Manic Monday went, it left me satisfied. I love tennis, and I got my fill. I saw some great matches, and I saw some intrigue. The women’s side is wide open, filled with players people outside the game don’t know and probably won’t be bothered to learn (aside from Sharapova who NBC I assume will pump up as much as they can for the next few days). The men’s side still has the big four involved, which is the most Wimbledon can ask for. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether Murray can finally break though, Nadal can continue his dominance, Federer can stave off the swan song mentality, Djokovic can ride his hot hand, or someone else can sneak in and grab the trophy. The next few days will be exciting – at least for me.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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?
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.
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.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
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. He denies any responsibility for leaking the intern affair story
- 2. He speaks lovingly about his wife when asked, seemingly for the first time publicly
- 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.
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.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
(Apologies for getting this up so late. I was traveling Sunday night and only just got a chance to watch this...)
You’ve got to be kidding me! After the charge the series got from last week’s episode, I thought The Killing finally settled into a good groove and despite some inconsistency found in earlier episodes, we’d have a strong push toward the finish line.
And then we woke up to day 11.
Let’s just get into it before I decide not to write anything about it. I’ll share my personal thoughts at the end. And I apologize in advance if you feel I’m blowing through some of the stuff that happens, but…
We of course start where we left off last week more or less, with Linden at the casino, walking through the dregs of society that would be gambling at such an early morning hour. And before you accuse the show of exaggerating the type of character that would be gambling at that hour by showing someone with an oxygen canister on the floor, let me tell you – that is no exaggeration. I’ve seen plenty of oxygen tanks in a casino. In fact, I’d suggest that perhaps the producers of The Killing didn’t go far enough.
Linden wanders through the casino and you can see the possibilities this new lead suggests in her expression. Finally, a big break in this case! All she has to do now is simply get a couple of warrants for the security cameras and she’ll be able to fill in more of Rosie’s timeline and…
Not so fast, says the manager of the casino. Apparently, the Indians who run this casino aren’t so keen to be involved in a murder investigation. And while I can understand that to a degree, it does seem a little strange that they get very standoffish very quickly. Linden is asking for some standard things, and the responses she gets back could be construed as withholding information. Perhaps.
Frustrated with the lack of cooperation, Linden is escorted off the premises of the casino. Frustrated with this current roadblock, she eyes an ATM and gets an idea. She might not be able to get the casino’s camera footage, but the ATM security footage is a different story.
Holder shows up and Linden gives him the lowdown on her plan. Getting the warrant could take upwards of 24 hours, and it seems like Linden is going to wait right at the entrance of the casino, much to Holder’s chagrin. Because, see, Holder has some other business to take care of. He wants to head off to his niece and nephews school parade, as he is trying to get his life back together after the drug problem and good grief! This is episode 11? This is important because…? Look, I understand back stories to characters are important and good to establish, but I’m not sure there’s enough time here to make the audience care. The audience you have cares about the murder at this point. I doubt there are going to be any new people that are going to pick this series up.
Waiting for the warrant, Linden gets a new call – Jack didn’t show up for school. Ok, great. I guess I’m the patsy here because I thought once Regi left the picture and Linden and Jack moved into the hotel, that would be the resolution of that plot line. And I was wrong. So, so horribly wrong. And I feel bad. Because now we have to spend an entire episode tracking Jack down and forgetting about Rosie.
Linden and Holder go back to the motel to find Jack, only Jack isn’t there, but his cell phone is. So Linden obviously goes into detective more in an attempt to find her son. Holder begrudgingly follows along, at least at first. We’ll see as we move down this path how he changes, and how the relationship between him and Linden changes. You can either follow, or fast forward to the last two minutes if you only care about the Rosie Larsen murder. And I certainly won’t judge you.
They head to Reggie’s boat and not only is Jack gone, but Regi’s boat is gone. And really, who can blame her? Linden gets a call from another mother and long story short learns about The Tunnel – a popular place for kids to go when they cut class. And obviously Holder knows about it. So off the two go.
They get there, and no one is there, so they wait. Eventually, a group of kids come down. By this point, I’m begging Jack is one of them so that we can get back to the issue of dead Rosie Larsen, but no such luck. Heading back to the car, Linden finally opens up a bit after Holder’s continued questioning about Regi and we finally learn the secret we’ve all been dying to know – the truth about the relationship between Regi and Linden. They’re not mother and daughter, Regi is Linden’s social worker!
It’s possible that there are viewers out there that want to know the history of these characters, and get some insight about why they act the way they do. I’ll admit, as a Lost fan, I cared more about the secrets of the island and what was going on, and less about the character interactions. So I may be the wrong person to look to when watching this episode, but seriously, all of this is really really boring.
Linden and Holder go onto do way more police work in the next hour than they have for the entire run of Rosie’s investigation. And I get this is personal, but still. It’s a little jarring. They head off to get some food, where we now start to get deeper into Holder’s back story. His current outlook, which goes against his immediate appearance and personality, still rings true. For the character, at least.
Linden calls in an APB on her son.
They head back to the hotel, as it is now about the time that school is letting out. Still no Jack though.
Holder cancels his plans to head to his niece and nephew’s school parade in order to stay with Linden. It’s touching, emotional and real. I have such conflicting thoughts about this specific episode, because it really does a lot with the characters, while doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the show. This episode opens up a lot of avenues, from the slow realization from Linden that she doesn’t want Jack to grow up to become someone like Holder, to her other slow realization that she’s more fucked up than Holder. Not to mention the fact that police work can seriously fuck up the lives of many different people.
Linden directs the two of them to some places that ultimately are not places that Jack might be, but more are places where she can feel some pity for herself. And while that may sound negative, I think it’s exactly what her character needs – a chance to slow down and realize her lifestyle and dedication are not the best things for her son or the people that are close to her. Whether we’re supposed to take any of that out of this episode I have no idea, and I’m not sure if this is trying to set up a second season of this show or not. (And yes, I know I’m glossing over the fight between Holder and Linden, but it’s just another vehicle to show that Holder has his act together (at least a little more than Linden) and Linden doesn’t want to face that.
Sitting at an old playground, they hear over the radio that a child’s body that fits the description of Jack has been found. So off they go, assuming the worst. Again, I’m not sure if I would have been happy or sad if the body had been Jack’s. I guess sad, because that would have been too much of a wrench for the show to handle so late into the season. I mean there’s no way Linden would have been able to continue on with the case after the death of her son. On the other hand, it would have brought all of this oddball plot to a quick resolution, and we also would have gotten Holder leading the investigation so…
Linden and Holder head back to the motel and find Jack. Reunited, Holder is now left to pick up the pieces of his actions (or non actions) of the day with his family. Fingering his AA chip, I wonder if we’re supposed to think he’s headed back to the drugs. Thankfully (hopefully) we can shrug this particular scene off as a simple reminder that drugs always sing the siren song to addicts, as he gets a call that the ATM camera footage warrant came back.
Linden and Jack are back in the motel, and Linden is calmly going over the day’s events for him and asks him where he was. Jack explains his actions. He was with his dad. I wrote that line way before he admitted this. And I’m not saying that as bragging, I say it because it was the only logical outcome.
Holder is back at the station combing through the ATM footage, and he finds Rosie on it, all dolled up. If I take anything away from this episode it will be that the show still hasn’t eliminated Tom Drexler as a suspect. It certainly hasn’t advanced him either, and I’m hanging by a thread, but that thread is still tied to something.
As I said earlier, I felt very conflicted by this episode. While it did nothing to advance the plot, I did feel it did a lot to develop the characters of Linden and Holder. If only it had happened during day three, and not day eleven, and I feel it would have worked unbelievably well. But to have it show up so late in the series is going to turn viewers off – no matter how strong an episode it is. It’s weird, the show started off as a simple police procedural that focused on the case, to the detriment of the characters. To pull this 180 so late in the season flies in the face of what producers/writers/directors tried so hard to establish in the beginning. And that’s too bad, since I thought the writing of this episode was extremely strong, and it felt very real and human.
Anyway, I’m not bothering with a suspect list, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.