Tuesday, 12 April 2011

'THE KILLING' 1.3 - "El Diablo"

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The third episode was less compelling than the amazing two-part opening, but still delivered the same dank and immersive atmosphere. You can almost smell the rainwater through your television. One problem with The Killing's multi-episode format is that you know the investigation's far from finding Rosie Larsen's killer at this early stage. A similar problem was faced by 24, but that show could break the story up into mini-arcs, with one crisis leading into the next, snowballing the stakes over a season. It'll be interesting to see if The Killing has anything similar up its sleeve, but I suspect red herrings and dead-ends are the order of the day right now, no matter how close Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) appeared to get in solving the case here.


  • Linden and Holder found a peephole in the basement of Fort Washington High School, enabling a direct view of students having sex in "The Cage" from an adjacent room accessible by the janitor Lyndon Johnson Rosales (VJ Delos Reyes.)
  • Darren Richmond's (Billy Campbell) campaign hit the skids now he's become associated with Rosie's murder (she was discovered inside one of his stolen campaign cars), so his rival Mayor Adams advises he withdraws from the election in order to gain his support in four years' time. Concurrently, Councilwoman Yitanes (Lee Garlington) decided to refuse her endorsement because Richmond wasn't straight with her over the situation with the murder investigation.
  • Janitor Rosales was hospitalized after falling off a fire escape while trying to evade the police, but was later revealed to have an alibi for the night Rosie was killed (he was arrested for DUI.) Nevertheless, he tells Linden he saw a pink-wigged Rosie at the Halloween party with Kris Echols (Gharrett Patrick Paon), an expelled student he refers to as "El Diablo" who now hangs out at the local skate park.
  • Richmond found e-mail evidence that his campaign manager Jamie (Eric Ladin) as leaking damaging information to his rivals, so fires him in order to regain Yitanes' public support.
  • Rosie's grieving parents were told their daughter's official cause of death was drowning. Mitch (Michelle Forbes) continued to sink into a depression, as Stan (Brent Sexton) struggled to keep a brave face for the benefit of their two young sons.
  • Linden took a timeout to visit old friend Regi (Annie Corley) on her houseboat, a woman who's become a mother figure to Linden and often minded her son Jack.
  • Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren) confiscated a phone from a student, which he later noticed contains a video of Rosie's ex-boyfriend Jasper (Richard Harmon) and Kris sexually-assaulting Rosie in The Cage while wearing masks, which he immediately brought to the police's attention.

  • I think it's safe to assume Jasper and Kris didn't kill Rosie, but merely believe they'll be blamed for her death because they raped her. Unless this is a double-bluff and one of the boys did indeed have a hand in her murder, perhaps stealing a campaign car to dispose of her so she couldn't tell the police.
  • Locking someone in a car to drown isn't a very personal way to murder. It seems to indicate the killer didn't kill Rosie for the sick pleasure of seeing her die. She was locked in the boot of a car, which was then dumped in a lake. A disposal. My thoughts turn to someone wanting to scupper Richmond's campaign by intentionally stealing one of his campaign cars for the deed. However, there was a good chance that car would never have been found, which couldn't have been the plan. Also, surely the killer must have returned home on foot after pushing the stolen car into a lake?
  • In general, I suspect the killer is a character we haven't even met yet, or is so peripheral they're not even crossing our minds. Or there's more than one person involved.
  • I don't think Jamie was the leak. It's more likely he was framed by someone. But was he framed by the killer?

I really like the visual style and intelligence of writing in The Killing. There's an undeniable quality to everything that makes you want to invest in the show. It carries some assurance your time will be well spent, too -- partly because you know the story will be told to a conclusion, and also the fact it's based on a successful Danish TV series. It also throws some very dramatic moments at the audience -- best exemplified when Mitch took a bath and couldn't resist submerging herself under the water, to get a sense of her daughter's panic in the moments before her death. The kind of scene that puts a hollow feeling in your stomach, as it was such a human thing to do, no matter how upsetting. Likewise listening to Rosie's voice-recording on the family phone: a trivial thing that's become a precious connection to a loved-one who's never coming back.

There's also something intriguing about Linden's approach to this case. Obviously she's frustrated that her boss is making her stay in town to solve Rosie's murder, before she's allowed to fly out to sunny California to start a new life with her fiancé, but I get the feeling something deeper is eating at her. Did she herself lose a daughter or sister under similar circumstances? Is this something her mother-figure Regi would know about? Maybe she was almost the victim of a killer, which inspired her decision to become a detective in the first place? It just feels like there's more to Linden's glassy stares than meets the eye. This case is getting to her.

A confident continuation for The Killing, which is basically trying to deepen its story after its terrific debut. There are some concerns already (like how long can audiences watch the Larsen family mourn before it becomes exhausting to watch?), but nothing too major. The show's managed a very tricky task of introducing a lot of faces and relationships, but in a way where you don't feel swamped. It's pretty easy to split the show up into constituent parts (Rosie's family, Rosie's friends, the police, the campaigners), and the characters within those groups are easy to identity and understand. The secret to a good murder-mystery is keeping it deceptively simple, as you don't really want to be overwhelmed by too much. A few weeks where the thread is lost and viewers will perhaps give up, but The Killing's doing a fine job unspooling its line right now. I'm on the hook, at any rate.

written by Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin / directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton / 10 April 2011 / AMC