Last night’s episode of The Killing was upstaged by the stunning news of another death, this one just a little more significant than that of a fictional teenage girl. I joked on Twitter that I was choosing to watch the show over President Obama’s news conference, but the truth is that I hadn’t even started watching the episode when the news broke that our Commander in Chief had something important to tell the nation. I toggled for hours between cable news and my Twitter feed, tracking bits of speculation and updates, jesting and jubilation. I finally got around to “What You Have Left” very early this morning, and my buzzy, elevated mood clashed with the episode’s sorrowful, funereal tale of grieving, catastrophe-rocked people still a long way from justice. It was a story that found key players making profound choices while under the influence of volatile, logic-scrambling emotions and possibly dubious information. It was a transitional episode in the larger narrative of The Killing, but fittingly, it was an episode about people in tricky, trying uncertain states of being, desperate for wisdom on what to do and who to be – and vulnerable to making ruinous, deadly mistakes. Linden’s mother offered this loaded line: “I have found that certain states of transiency [sic] are worse for kids than adults.” Maybe. But “What You Have Left” focused on more the bigger kids than the smaller ones.
THE KILLING CASE FILE
EPISODE 6: “WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT”
OLD LEADS: Last week’s most intoxicating new clue was the discovery Rosie’s super 8 film, full of lyrical and cryptic images – but the mystery movie wasn’t even acknowledged this week. Bummer! Instead, Linden and Holder dug deeper into chief suspect, Bennet Ahmed, galvanized by the revelation that Rosie’s hands were saturated with chemicals that had been spotted in the teacher’s apartment. They went knocking on doors in Bennet’s neighborhood and learned from one source that Rosie visited Bennet’s home in the hours between the Halloween dance and her murder. When confronted, Bennet played the forgetful memory card (the playing-dumb look that actor Brandon Jay McLaren gives Bennet is marvelously inscrutable) and then suddenly recalled that Rosie dropped by to drop off a book. Something Victorian, he said. (The collected works of Arthur Conan Doyle, perhaps?) Then, Linden learned from the block’s resident peeping tom/conspiracy theory nutjob that shortly after Rosie’s visit, Bennet carried something out of his house – a body-shaped something. He also had help carrying that suspicious weight: Pregnant wife (and former student), Amber. Suspicion: Did a jealous Amber kill Rosie? Did Bennet cover it up?
NEW LEADS: Not many. Linden nurtured the serial killer notion introduced last week – but the brief shot of the detective flipping through missing persons flyer and floating the possibility to her boss was more about bookmarking the idea, not exploring it. But “What You Have Left” did encourage viewers to begin asking questions about Mitch’s sister, Terry. At Rosie’s funeral reception, Terry lit up at the sight of Michael Ames, the wealthy father of Rosie’s icky ex-boyfriend Jasper. Michael noted her excitement, then rolled his eyes in disdain. Later, we saw a distraught Terry put on a Neko Case record (“Hold On, Hold On”) and begin crying. Theories?
EVERYONE HAS A SECRET (AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTS)
GWEN AND JAMIE: What did you make of that silent, knowing look they exchanged after they tried to convince Darren Richmond to distance himself from Bennet? Were they shooting cold daggers at each other – or were they acknowledging a secret understanding between them?
HOLDER: The grungy detective tried to dress up his image by wearing a mismatched coat and tie to work instead of his usual hoodie-and-jeans combo. His boss mocked his appearance, but I got the sense that Linden appreciated the effort or interpreted the effort as a sign of substance, as if she saw something in him that was always there but had missed. Later, there was that fleeting moment when Linden left Holder to continue canvassing Bennet’s neighborhood for clues and he spotted some kids executing a drug deal. In Holder’s very next scene, we saw him in a car with a middle-aged man in a trenchcoat – possibly the same man who slipped him the envelope filled with cash in the last episode. The Killing has been intimating that Holder has a drug problem himself, and this meeting had the vibe of a struggling addict confessing to his sponsor. “It’s like there are two of me,” Holder said. “One of them, he knows exactly what to do in every situation. The problem is that it always ends up in the same place. And then there’s the other me, the one I’m supposed to be, he’s just weak.” If the unnamed man was there to offer support in a moment of temptation, then… well done? “It’s your choice which one to follow,” he said tersely. THEORY! Is Holder working undercover for another agency? DEA, maybe? He could be trying to subvert the investigation. Or maybe his task is to manage the case in such a way as to prevent certain sensitive secrets from being exposed. Or maybe I’m totally wrong. Regardless, The Sponsor did leave Holder with a tip — and now, the detectives know that Stan Larsen used to be a mob enforcer back in his younger days.
STANLEY LARSEN: While Holder struggled to stay true to what’s right, Rosie’s father succumbed to darker urges. Tipped by Belko that the police liked Bennet for the murder, Stan offered to drive Bennet home from the funeral reception. Check that: He insisted upon driving Bennet home, and with a scary glint in his eye. As the episode ended, Bennet began to realize that Larsen had a different destination in mind. Will Stan follow through on his vengeance quest and kill Bennet? Or do you think Linden will intercede and save both men from awful fates? THEORY! I think Belko is setting up Stan to kill Bennet – possibly at the direction of their former mob bosses — so as to get Stan’s hands dirty anew and draw him back (or blackmail him back) into a life of crime.
AMBER: Her sister made much ado about not liking Bennet – apparently, because he’s not white and Christian like the rest of Amber’s family. Poor Bennet, The Demonized Other. Of course he killed Rosie. (Not!)
DARREN RICHMOND: The embattled mayoral candidate was pressured by not just his aides to distance himself from Bennet but by Gwen’s high-powered politico father, too. Richmond was determined to be his own man and refused to throw Bennet under the bus. Innocent until proven guilty, after all. Mayor Adams seized upon Richmond’s association with the suspect during their debate, alleging that his rival was soft on crime for not taking a harder stance on Bennet. The Killing has been inconsistent in its portrayal of Richmond. Some weeks he’s cunning and opportunistic; other weeks, he runs away from playing dirty. I don’t know if the writers are erring or trying to paint Richmond as a troubling paradox. The more inexplicable behavior belonged to Mayor Adams. He all but accused Bennet of murder. On TV! This, despite the fact that the police had not yet charged Bennet with anything, and had not even publicly identified him as their chief suspect. Hard to believe a smooth, shrewd operator like Mayor Adams would make that kind of blunder. Yes, “blunder.” Because even though it didn’t seem like it, I think Richmond actually won himself the election with that debate. Think this though: When Bennet gets exonerated – and especially if Bennet gets exonerated and then killed by Stan – Richmond will wind up looking like a stud for resisting the rush to bloody judgment and for being a keen judge of character, whereas Adams will look like a hysterical hawk. And, my friends, if this scenario comes to pass, and I bet it will, we’ll have to wonder: Was this the killer’s plan from the start? Did the murderer kill Rosie and frame Bennet in order to set up Darren to look like a hero for standing behind a falsely-accused man?
Well played, Jamie. Well played.
See you next week!