Wednesday, 27 April 2011

'THE KILLING' 1.5 – "Super 8"

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

This fifth episode avoided the emerging formula of proving the innocence of last week's prime suspect in Act I, but otherwise it was business as usual. The Killing continues to have an immersive, sodden atmosphere that's strangely alluring, but it's about time the characters started to become the main reason to stick around. And while I like Mireille Enos' measured performance more than most, it would be helpful if the writers started to give her character more dynamism. Dropping vague references about a past case Linden was involved with, that assumedly echoes this current one, isn't enough..

I want to feel swept up in the investigation and eager for Linden to find Rosie's killer, but right now the drama remains on a low simmer. This was fine to set the scene and draw us into this dingy world, but it's about time the story and characters started to grab you by the throat. I've heard amazing things about the Danish version's pace and compelling lead investigator, so it's a shame if the US remake's not measuring up to that -- especially as it's assumedly telling the same 20-episode story in half the time. If the plot's being condensed that much, shouldn't the story be rocketing along as we approach the halfway mark?


  • Cracks appeared in the behaviour of the Larsen kids; Denny (Seth Isaac Johnson) left the house unaccompanied to buy milk to eat his sister Rosie's favourite cereal "Bits N' Pieces" (an apt allusion to the clue gathering), and Tom (Evan Bird) has started wetting the bed.
  • Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and Linden (Enos) interviewed teacher Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren), who claimed his letters to Rosie were just innocent correspondence ("intellectual discourse"), but couldn't corroborate his alibi that he returned home on Halloween because his wife (a former student of his) was away while he refurbished their house.
  • Richmond (Billy Campbell) was advised by aide/lover Gwen (Kristin Lehman) to reverse their campaign's fortunes by asking Rosie's parents to appear in a commercial with him. However, he decided against such a crass act and instead offered genuine condolence to Mitch (Michelle Forbes) at a supermarket, sympathizing with her situation and likening it to when he lost his wife.
  • Stan was told by his friend Belko that customers are cancelling removal dates because they're finding it difficult to face him, and later asked Belko to find out who the police have been interviewing at Rosie's school. It looks like Stan's getting antsy over the lack of progress and wants to find his own form of justice.
  • Linden and Holder watch a Super 8 video Rosie made before her death, supplied to them by Ahmed as proof she was a creative person he just wanted to inspire, and notice a reflected face in the images. Who was she filming? The secret lover/friend who killed her?
  • Jamie told Richmond that he believes Gwen is the mole in his campaign team, planted by Mayor Adams (Tom Butler.) However, after Jamie's meeting with Adams and his campaign manager Benjamin Abani (Colin Lawrence), Adams himself mentions how he caught Councilwoman Yitanes (Lee Garlington) trying to put a mole in his camp, so likely tried to same tactic successfully with Richmond. Gwen once worked for Yitanes, so becomes the prime suspect, but it turned out communications aide Nathan Patrick was the mole. Richmond exposed the deception and managed to keep Yitanes endorsement by threatening her with a prison sentence for the felony.
  • Linden and Holder interviewed Bennet Ahmed's pregnant wife Amber at their home, with Linden slinking away to a room containing plastic sheeting and a tub of ammonium hydroxide -- a floor cleaning chemical which can be used to clean bodies of incriminating evidence and was detected on Rosie's body.

  • Ahmed is still the prime suspect after two episodes, but it's too easy if he's the killer, as we're not even halfway through the season. It must be simple coincidence that he used ammonium hydroxide on his floors, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding him (canceling the professional floor cleaners, calling his wife from a cell-phone) are just bad luck. I won't really take any suspects seriously until around episode 9, which is a problem for this show and its long-form format.
  • Are we looking for a professional killer who knew how to scrub a dead body of forensic evidence using ammonium hydroxide, as Larsen now suspects? Was Rosie sexually assaulted after all? If this is the work of a serial killer, are there old cases that match Rosie's fate in the Washington area?
  • Gwen is off the hook as the mole, but appears to have been unfaithful to Richmond (once sleeping with the man she's just hired to shoot their campaign video.)
  • Mayor Adams, or a member of his campaign team, could still be the murderer, having killed as a means to ruin Richmond's chances. But is that too heartless?
  • Whoever accompanied Rosie while she was making her Super 8 video can also be considered a suspect, but we have no idea who that might be. It still seems more than likely her killer was someone she knew, though. The dominance of butterflies in Rosie's film, together with the giant butterfly collage on her bedroom wall, has me suspecting lepidopterist's in the Seattle area...
  • If it is a serial killer, do you think the culprit is someone Linden has investigated before? Her fiancé Rick (Callum Keith Rennie) seems very concerned that this case is stoking memories of something from Linden's past that's best forgotten, so maybe she failed to catch a killer who's now resumed his work?

"Super 8" was the worst episode of The Killing that's aired so far, mainly because it focused so much on the political subplot which doesn't feel very relevant to the murder investigation, although it is less predictable. The fact it exists is either a clever but frustrating distraction from the murder case, or a clear sign someone on Richmond or the Mayor's payroll is the killer. It's also becoming a more noticeable chore to get through scenes where the Larsen's show their grief, which sometimes overshadows the fine work being done by Forbes and Sexton. The latter's private restroom meltdown after viewing his daughter's body, now dressed for her funeral, was excellent, but we're in danger of becoming desensitized or bored by scenes like this.

Hopefully the funeral will mark a noticeable turning point, and there's already a sign that Stan's about to take matters into his own hands rather than sit back and wait for the cops to solve the case. It's a tough one, because to be realistic the show has to show the Larsen's going through hell, but there's only so much of that an audience can take before it starts becoming too much of a downer. Unfortunately, the format of The Killing means there's unlikely to be a curative boost of positive emotion until the killer's caught, probably in the finale. Although there's some doubt The Killing's even going to end the story this season, and the case may rumble into next year, Twin Peaks-style.


  • What's up with Holder? Celibate for six months? Taking receipt of packages of money? Delivering said money to the mailbox of a woman with two children? My guess is he's giving anonymous money to his estranged family.
written by Jeremy Doner / directed by Phil Abraham / 24 April 2011 / AMC