Thursday, 12 May 2011

'THE KILLING' 1.7 - "Vengeance"

Thursday, 12 May 2011

We enter the second half of The Killing with an episode that fell back on the old formula (wrap-up last week's cliffhanger in 10-minutes, provide half-an-hour of leisurely developments, then end with a provocative 3-minute climax.) I’d hoped for better, but it's become clear The Killing isn't the thrilling shake-up of the police procedural it promised to be. One key problem has been how the show's failed to make murdered schoolgirl Rosie Larsen feel like anything more than a name. It's undeniably tough, considering she's dead, but I'm disappointed that other characters' testimonials or some home-video footage hasn't been used to make us care that Rosie's life has been taken.


  • Stan (Brent Sexton) scared teacher Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren), the prime suspect of his daughter's murder, by driving him to a deserted dock and staring him out in the pouring rain. After the frightened Bennet pleaded that he "didn't hurt Rosie", Stan coolly drove home.
  • Linden (Mireille Enos) asked Bennet's pregnant wife Amber (Ashley Johnson) about her husband's disappearance with Stan, then questioned the discrepancies in her story about the night Rosie went missing. Amber admitted that she's jealous of Bennet hanging around schoolgirls with their "perfect bodies", reveals that the book Rosie returned to their house was a copy of the Koran, and that she was most likely let in at 11pm by Bennet's study mate Muhammad.
  • The Koran Rosie returned is stamped with the address of "Green Lake Mosque", so Linden and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) went there to enquire about this "Muhammad" with the Iman Gelabi (Peter Bryant.) Unfortunately, Muhammad's an extremely common Muslim name so their clue isn't much use. However, a woman slipped a note into Linden's shoe with the address "106 R - Renton Ave S." written on it...
  • Richmond (Billy Campbell) is still refusing to distance himself from Bennet, despite the concerns of his campaigners Jamie and Gwen.
  • Gwen found an empty envelope addressed to Richmond, posted from "Bainbridge Correctional Facility for Women." Later, Richmond visited Maryanne Thompson (Merrilyn Gann), mother of his dead wife Lily, to discuss the imminent probation hearing for the drunk driver who killed her. I'm really not sure what the relevance of this emerging subplot is. I hope there is one.
  • Linden missed her flight out of Seattle with son Jack. At her houseboat, Regi (Annie Corley) reminded Linden that she nearly lost custody of Jack because of her obsession with another case. Is history repeating itself? Incidentally, was anyone else confused by the sudden desire of Linden to get out of town, leaving the Larsen case unsolved? It felt very cold to me. We're so far into the series and Linden still doesn't seem to truly care about finding Rosie's killer -- and if she's the audience's instrument of justice, that's a weird choice. I keep hearing that Linden's Danish counterpart (Sarah Lunden) was a far more indomitable character, so why has the remake decided to make Linden so ambivalent? I WANT Linden to become obsessed with this case, so I can too.
  • Mitch's (Michelle Forbes) parents came to stay, bossy mother Helen Marek (Tasha Simms) and Tad (Tim Henry.) Stan later took their two sons to the park, where they asked about how their sister died and were given a satisfying answer.
  • Oakes quashed the warrant to search Bennet's house, believing the witness who saw Rosie there isn't trustworthy enough.
  • Richmond learned that Mayor Adams (Tom Butler) has called an emergency City Council session to freeze funds for the Seattle All-Stars program. Jamie implores Richmond to demand Bennet's resignation to save the program, but after giving a passionate speech to the council, Richmond watched as the council voted to end the All-Stars funding. I suspect Richmond's going to end up winning the mayoral race when Bennet helps the cops catch the killer, and the electorate start to see him as a fantastic judge of character.
  • Linden and Holder found the note's address, "106 Renton Avenue", which turned out to be an abandoned meat market. They entered door "106R", but seconds later were knocked to the floor and handcuffed by an FBI SWAT team storming into the building behind them.

  • The mysterious Muhammad rockets to the top of the suspects list, if he indeed let Rosie into the house at 11pm. Did he knock her unconscious, then force Bennet to help him dispose of her, with the small woman also seen leaving the house? Is the woman the person who slipped that note to Linden? What does the abandoned meat market have to do with Rosie's abduction and murder?
  • The mob keep getting mentioned, particularly now the cops are aware of Stan's past and are beginning to hypothesize as we were weeks ago.
  • I'd be very surprised if Bennet killed Rosie now, but the show has spent so long with his character I'm convinced he must be involved in some way. As I mentioned, did he dispose of the body? Does he know who killed Rosie but can't say for some reason? Or is he a total dead-end?
  • Knowing the tricks of the murder-mystery genre, the killer is most likely a character who's still very peripheral to events, or was introduced weeks ago and we haven't heard much about them since? Any suggestions?

Once again, "Vengeance" was an episode of individually great moments, floating around in the plot. The climax had me hoping The Killing's about to receive an overdue jolt (why are the FBI involved?) but I'm also bracing myself for a quick and wearisome resolution next week. Still, those great moments: I love how Stan admitted to Mitch that Rosie was essentially his moral anchor in life, helping him turn his back on his mobster days, and there was a good scene with the Larsen boys watching a news report on their sister's murder on TV. The show tends to have some really memorable characters beats.

It's just become a little protracted, hasn't it? I remain incredibly curious about the Danish version, though, which I keep being told is a comparative rollercoaster and twice the length. A part of me doesn't believe AMC would buy this format and insist on a more ponderous version. Are the original's fans exaggerating things? But I think we can agree AMC's version should be flying along now we're in the final half, but instead it's becoming annoyingly inert.

written by Linda Burstyn / directed by Ed Bianchi / 8 May 2011 / AMC