Tuesday, 17 May 2011

'THE KILLING' 1.8 - "Stonewalled"

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The finale's a dot on the horizon, so I was very pleased with "Stonewalled", which was a more satisfying hour of The Killing than we've had in weeks. The investigation was beginning to turn stale but this refreshed things with the FBI's introduction and unforeseen terrorism angle. Meanwhile, characters like Richmond (Billy Campbell) and Linden (Mireille Enos) finally started to look passionate about their situations as the gloves came off. Linden's demeanor is still too glacial for my taste, but "Stonewalled" definitely forced Enos to show different facets to her introverted sleuth.

Overview:

  • Linden and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) found themselves caught in the middle of a counter-terrorism operation with the FBI, after breaking into the meat market's locked room. Both were hauled away when their identities were confirmed, but only after Linden noticed a makeshift sleeping area containing a pink top marked "Grand Canyon". Despite the need to investigate further, as this could be the place Rosie Larsen was kept for a few days before being killed, Linden's boss Oakes (Garry Chalk) bowed to federal authority.
  • On Regi's houseboat, Linden was e-mailed case files of the Larsen case, which were later found and distributed by her son Jack (Liam James), our of anger for his mother's apparent reluctance to leave Seattle for California. Unfortunately, the graphic crime scene photos found their way to the media and a TV news report aired that disturbed Mitch Larsen (Michelle Forbes.)
  • Mitch showed signs of mental stress, after she volunteered to help Stan (Brent Sexton) by taking their sons to school, only to become distracted and accidentally leave them alone inside a car parked in their garage that's filling with exhaust fumes. Fortunately, her sister Terry arrived and prevented another tragedy, before warning Stan that his wife's behaviour is becoming erratic.
  • Richmond decided to fight Mayor Adams over the closure of the All-Star programme, with Jamie suggesting they hire a P.I to dig up dirt on their rival. Richmond agreed, but refused to condone personal attacks. However, after Jamie went to see millionaire supporter Tom Drexler (Patrick Gilmore) at a MMA cage-fight, he was given damaging personal information to use against Adams.
  • Linden became suspicious of Holder after noticing him passing an envelope to a man in a car, so followed him to a rundown part of town--only to realize he's attending a Narcotic's Anonymous and the mysterious man is just his sponsor, Gil.
  • Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren) was suspended from school by Principal Meyers (Kerry Sandomirsky) who doesn't think it's in the school's best interest if he comes to work.
  • The cagey FBI confirmed that their terrorist suspect, "Muhammad H", has been making multiple border crossings. They also found maps and fake passports at the meat market hideout, but aren't keen to open the investigation up to the Seattle P.D.
  • Linden managed to take a photo of the pink top the FBI have taken into evidence, and later confirmed with Mitch that it belonged to Rosie--thus proving she was taken to the meat market by her kidnapper.
  • Richmond attended the parole hearing of Debbie Cantwell, the woman who killed his wife Lily. Debbie begged to be forgiven. Richmond vented his frustrations by punching a mirror in the men's toilet, then rang Gwen to give her permission to use Drexler's dirt on Adams. A story about Adams paying rent for his pregnant 19-year-old intern Janelle Stevens (Leanna Lapp) hit the airwaves soon after.
  • Mitch discovered that Stan has cleared out Rosie's room, claiming they need to "focus on the future". They argued, blaming each other for Rosie's grisly fate (Stan let their daughter stay home on the weekend she was taken, Mitch was so strict that Rosie hid things from them.)
  • Holder revealed to Linden that he's placed a wire-tap on Bennet's phone, moments before Bennet made an anxious call to Muhammad (mostly in Somali, but including the English words "the passports will be arriving tomorrow, then this will all be over")--overheard by pregnant wife Amber (Ashley Johnson.)

Suspects:

  • "Muhammad H" is definitely the new prime suspect at this point. We already know he invited Rosie into the Ahmed residence on the Friday she disappeared, but now it's almost certain she spent a few days in the meat market the FBI are focused on as a terrorist lair. This new terrorism angle is interesting, though. Is it a separate issue with coincidental overlap with the murder case, or was Rosie in the process of being radicalized by Muhammad and Bennet? If so, did she have second thoughts which resulted in her having to be killed in case she told the authorities? And what's with Muhammad's border crossings? Do you think that's terrorism related, or is the issue perhaps about child trafficking?
  • Bennet Ahmed. It's less likely he was directly responsible for killing Rosie, but is he involved with terrorism? Or is his friend Muhammad just someone he's trying to protect? If so, why? And what isn't he telling the police? Does he know Rosie was kept in the meat market over that weekend?
  • Still no sign of the mysterious woman seen loading a body into a black car with, assumedly, Muhammad, from the Ahmed residence. Is she known by Bennet?
  • I'm going to throw Tom Drexler's name into the ting. C'mon, a playboy multi-millionaire who has everyone dancing to his tune, with a surname of Drexler? That's a villain right there. Why show him enjoying a brutal cage-fight in this episode? Mind you, I can't think of a motive yet--especially as he's helping Richmond become mayor and Rosie was killed inside a Richmond campaign car. Am I barking up the wrong tree here? Is Drexler simply a character who exists to push the story forward because he has money and influence?

Summation:

"Stonewalled" was a very good episode because the plots thickened nicely, and it was great to see Linden resolve her suspicions of Holder and finally appear determined to solve this case. By introducing the FBI, it gives Linden and Holder a new obstacle to overcome, which only adds to the investigative drama itself. I'm a little worried about the terrorism angle, however, because preying on that fear is a common and obvious direction to take with Muslim characters. I'm also more interested to see the direction Richmond goes in now, as this was the first time he sacrificed his principles to win a battle in the mayoral election. Is the political boy scout on a downward slope now, becoming no better than the man wants to replace, or was that an unfortunate blip because he was looking for a way to vent his anger over his wife's killer's parole? Speaking of whom, I wasn't expecting that character to be so disarming and, frankly, someone who seems to deserve forgiveness!

This was an episode that replenished my enthusiasm for The Killing, to some extent. If nothing else, we're so close to the finish I can't deny I'm really keen to find out who killed Rosie Larsen. I only hope the case does reach a conclusion in season 1, without asking audiences to come back next year for a second half. I have a suspicion that may be too much to ask for most people who are only just hanging in because of the deliberate pace.

Asides:

  • How long have the FBI known about the meat market? And who gave Linden the anonymous note with the meat market's address? That person surely knows there's a link between the building's use as a terrorist den and Rosie's murder. Do you think the note-giver is the woman who was seen helping move Rosie's body, and is now suffering a crisis of conscience?
  • Without giving anything away, did a terrorism angle play a part in the Danish original? Was the equivalent character for Bennet Ahmed a Muslim? Or is all this the invention of the US remake, to play on post-9/11 fears?
  • I quite liked the scene where Holder recounts to the N.A group his story of using his nephew's prized gold coin to sell for drug money, but it was also very clich├ęd. The fact Holder's subsidiary mystery has been removed in a rather low-key way was also a slight disappointment. That said, hopefully it means Linden and Holder's tension will relax and they'll become a more compelling duo.
  • I think it's worth remembering that Rosie was kidnapped, kept alive for a few days, then murdered by locking her in a car to drown. That's a particularly cruel way to kill someone, when there are much easier alternatives. Doesn't that suggest someone who has a deep hatred of young girls? Or someone who wanted to send a message to Richmond, whose stolen campaign car was used?
  • The serial killer theory hasn't amounted to much since it was suggested, but I'm surprised Linden hasn't linked anything to a similar case from the city's past. Someone who kidnaps young girls, possibly a Muslim, and likes to drown them alive--worth a database search?
  • Rosie's butterfly collage was seen again, rebuilt by Mitch on her daughter's wall. I'd forgotten about the butterfly connection (they also featured in Rosie's super 8 student video, remember?) Does anyone else suspect a key part of the mystery is contained in that collage?
written by Dan Nowak / directed by Agnieska Holland / 15 May 2011 / AMC