Tuesday, 3 May 2011

'THE KILLING' 1.6 – "What You Have Left"

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The halfway point of the season predictably involved Rosie Larsen's funeral, although it wasn't given as much attention as you'd have expected. In fact, the political subplot received more screentime, as harangued Councilman Richmond (Billy Campbell) decided to stick to his principles and refuse to distance himself from his latest campaign commercial, in which he's seen embracing teacher Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren) the prime suspect of Rosie's murder.

I still can't shake a feeling The Killing's a fantastic production, blessed with some good performances, but one that hasn't managed to maintain the pilot's extraordinary impact. Everything since episode 4 has been less urgent than I'd have liked after an excellent start and intriguing direction. Events are unfolding quite nicely, but at such a sluggish pace I think I'd have preferred The Killing to have been a six-part miniseries. Having never seen the Danish original, my mind's boggling at how the original managed to keep this story going for 20 hours, apparently with greater velocity.


  • An obsessed Linden (Mireille Enos) pulled an all-nighter at work, looking for links between Rosie's murder and cold cases involving missing girls, believing a serial killer may be the culprit. She then canvassed the neighbourhood for witnesses with Holder (Joel Kinnaman), eventually finding a woman who saw a girl (identified as Rosie) arrive at Ahmed's house at 10pm on the Friday she vanished. It makes you wonder why such witnesses haven't come forward themselves, if this murder is such a big deal in Seattle. If you'd seen a murder victim on the night they died, wouldn't you have come forward before the sixth day of a high-profile investigation?
  • Ahmed was confronted over the fact Rosie was seen going to his house on Friday, admitted she came round to drop off a school book, but denied Holder and Linden access to his home for a search without a warrant. However, Linden later got video-tape evidence that Ahmed was at the school Halloween party until 11:20pm, so couldn't have let Rosie into his home at 10pm. But to confuse matters further, Linden also spoke to a nosy neighbour with a telescope who saw Ahmed taking a girl wrapped in a blanket out of his home at 12:03am, helped by a "smallish-type" woman to load her into a black car.
  • Gwen (Kristen Lehman) pulled the TV advert with Richmond embracing Mr Ahmed, with Jamie insisting he distance himself from Rosie's teacher of be forever associated with "dead girl in a trunk" by the city's electorate.
  • Holder received word from a mysterious man (the same one who handed him an envelope last week) that Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) was once involved with Janek Kovarsky's mob and had a serious gambling problem.
  • Amber Ahmed's sister Grace was interviewed, claiming there are religious differences between Grace and Ahmed, and revealing that Amber (Ashley Johnson) arrived at her house upset over her husband's "secrets" at 1am on the night of the Halloween dance.
  • Senator Eaton (Alan Dale), Gwen's father and an influential political ally, arrived to scold Richmond over his handling of the situation with Ahmed and the TV adverts, but Richmond is convinced it's the right thing to stand up for a man's innocence until he's proven guilty. In a live TV debate with Mayor Adams (Tom Butler), Richmond wandered into a trap by talking about his Seattle All-Stars program to help city kids, allowing Adams to tackle the subject of All-Star coach Ahmed and his association with the Larsen murder case.
  • Rosie's body was prepared for the funeral (lovely moment when her missing fingernails were replaced by fakes, restoring her appearance to that of a sleeping beauty.) The service was held in private and went without a hitch, although at the wake Stan learned from his friend Belko that Bennet Ahmed is the prime suspect. Craving revenge, or an outlet for his frustration and anger, Stan offered to drive Ahmed home, with other things on his mind...

  • Who let Rosie into the Ahmed's house at 10pm, if Ahmed was at the dance till just after 11pm? It must be his pregnant wife Amber. Is she more involved with this than we've been led to believe? Or was someone else there? Did Ahmed return home to find his wife had injured Rosie, and helped get rid of her with a diminutive friend's help? What has his wife got against Rosie? Was she perhaps jealous of the attention her husband's giving her? Why did Amber leave the house an hour later to be comforted by her sister, complaining about her husband's secrets? What secrets? Is Ahmed involved with Kovarsky's mob?
  • Who is this "smallish-type" person, likely a woman, who was seen helping Ahmed load someone into a black car? If Rosie was indeed taken away in that vehicle, was she later transferred into a Richmond campaign car? We know Rosie wasn't dead while inside the trunk, so what had happened to her in the Ahmed house? Was she knocked unconscious? If so, was it an accident that looks suspicious or intentionally? Why doesn't Seattle have CCTV to trace the movements of the two cars that are so integral to the mystery?
  • Stan's best friend Belko. Did he kill Rosie? There was an interesting scene at the wake, when Terry snarled at him "you do realize you're not part of this family, right?" Is Belko aggrieved with the Larsen's treatment of him and perhaps wanted to hurt them by killing Rosie? Was he acting on behalf of old mob boss Kovarsky? Is his guilt the reason he's keen to get Stan focused elsewhere, like Ahmed ?
  • The mob. There's still the chance Rosie was killed as punishment for something Stan did, or failed to do -- either years ago, or more recently. It just feels too weird to have introduced those mobsters if they're not going to lead anywhere. Then again, introducing dead ends is part and parcel of shows like this. I just hope the explanation for who killed Rosie Larsen isn't disappointingly simplistic.

"What You Have Left" was slightly better than last week's low point, but I'm still waiting for a moment that transforms The Killing from a stylish and intelligent cop drama into a knockout piece of entertainment. The characters, while nicely drawn and well-acted, aren't eliciting much passion from me, as my patience begins to run out with a few. Even my natural sympathy for the Larsen's is beginning to run dry. Linden in particular needs to step up a gear as the lead actress, rather than remain so detached. The political subplot is, in some ways, becoming more interesting than the murder investigation, as you at least get the feeling every episode is an important moment in its development. I still suspect the Ahmed situation is a red herring; he didn't kill Rosie, but has a private situation enmeshed with that tragedy he'd rather keep secret, even if he's risking being blamed for murder. Does he perhaps have a bizarre religious view he was trying to impose on the impressionable Rosie? Thoughts, theories?


  • There was a moment when Regi (Annie Corley), Linden's "foster mother", for want of a better word, alluded to Linden getting obsessed with a previous case that risked losing her son Jack (Liam James.) What's haunting Linden? Is Rosie's murder similar to a case from her past, involving one of the missing girls she's researching? I'd be surprised if it's not. Could it be possible her son Jack was kidnapped as a youngster, only to be found but his abductor never caught?
  • It's becoming a cliché in cop shows that there are always nosy neighbours around to help detectives -- often recluses with telescopes/binoculars or an obsession with note-taking. I suppose it's more fun that relying on dry CCTV footage for little breakthroughs, but I still can't help groaning when there's a dependable recluse on hand. It always feels like a lazy cheat.
written by Nic Pizzolatto / directed by Agnieszka Holland / 1 May 2011 / AMC