“Stonewalled” was about playing dirty and justifying it with righteousness. Mayoral candidate Darren Richmond finally decided to sling mud at his immoral and ruthlessly slimy opponent. Detective Linden broke the rules of proper police work so she could examine a piece of evidence that could bringer her closer to finding Rosie Larsen’s killer. Jack nearly subverted Linden’s work with a foolish, hurtful choice, just to awaken his mother to her own foolish, hurtful choices. Yes, all’s fair in love and political warfare. Or so they say. But what if you lose sight of what’s right in the process? What if you lose sight of yourself? “Stonewalled” was all about those questions, too. The eighth hour of The Killing brought to mind a Biblical passage: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The story gave us the recurring visual motif of characters peering into glass and finding revelation in reflections or other people. It was in this way that Linden learned the truth about Holder, her troubled and twitchy partner. Spying on him through a dingy window, Linden watched and listened as the former narcotics cop sought support from a room full of people just like him – recovering addicts, struggling to resist the siren call of self-destructive desires. Linden was moved by Holder’s example: Here was a man who lived every second of his life with a keen understanding of he was and isn’t, whose every moment demands a clear-eyed, face-to-face struggle with himself. Until this point, Linden considered herself his moral superior, in more ways than one. Not anymore. Through that dark glass, the haunted detective saw a soul bravely confronting his demons and trying to change his life. If only she could do the same.
Linden and Holder become more rich and engrossing as characters the more we get to know them (But more! And quickly!), and the scenes between them and themes they represent help make The Killing a cut above the usual cable crime-time saga, even when other parts of the show aren’t clicking like they should, and even as the weaker elements continue to show no signs of ever becoming stronger. “Stonewalled” tried to break through some of the narrative blockades we identified in last week’s Clue Tracker. The results were more often admirable than awesome, but they were good enough to regain some of the momentum that had been lost in recent weeks.
THE KILLING CASE FILE
EPISODE EIGHT: “STONEWALLED”
OLD LEADS: Last week we were denied the shot of what Linden and Holder saw when they broke into the locker of the back alley meat company possibly linked to Mohammed, a Muslim man connected to Bennet Ahmed, currently the chief suspect in Rosie Larsen’s murder. The opening scene quickly resolved that frustrating cliffhanger: They saw a child’s bedroom set, clearly customized for a girl. Creepy. Linden immediately zeroed in on a crucial detail: A pink sweatshirt/T-shirt (couldn’t tell which) with the words GRAND CANYON on the front. Later, Mitch confirmed that the article of clothing belonged to Rosie. The FBI told Linden that Mohammed — a suspect in a terrorism investigation – had been making repeated trips to Vancouver BC and bringing teenage girls with him.
NEW LEADS: By episode’s end, Holder had secured a wiretap on Bennet’s phone. We heard the embattled teacher – now on administrative leave pending resolution of the Larsen sitch – heatedly talking with Mohammed about obtaining passports. It all seemed so suspicious; I suspect the truth will prove otherwise. THEORY! Mohammed is a do-gooding activist in the world of human trafficking. He gets young exploited girls off the streets and sets them up with new lives in Seattle. Bennet is helping him with his work. Maybe Rosie was, too.
EVERYONE HAS A SECRET (AND OTHER DEVELOPMENTS)
DARREN RICHMOND: The councilman wanted to attack Mayor Adams. But how? Slam his polices or slam his character? Darren had the option after Jamie scored sleazy intel on Adams from the campaign’s go-to donor, the Adams-hating sports nut that funded the ill-fated ad campaign that had Richmond shaking hands with Bennet. (The scene at the underground ultimate fighting match = “playing dirty” incarnate.) But Darren didn’t choose to leverage the scoop until after he attended the parole hearing for the drunk driver that killed his wife. The woman pleaded for forgiveness. She even put forth an argument that she should be forgiven, because forgiving is good for the soul. (Bold!) The confrontation filled Richmond with turmoil. He went to the bathroom, looked at himself in the mirror, and punched the reflection. Then Richmond ordered Jamie to leak the scandalous gossip of Mayor Adams’ infidelity. My interpretation? Richmond had come to a bleak conclusion about himself: Because he was never going to be able to forgive that woman for killing his wife, he was a bad person; ergo, he might as well do bad person things like playing dirty politics. That night, Richmond took delight in watching the media rip into Mayor Adams – and then squirmed as they also sank their fangs into his young mistress.
HOLDER: Secrets revealed. Mr. Trenchcoat? Holder’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. He even trusted the man to manage his finances lest he tempted to spend his paycheck on drugs. Those envelopes of cash? An allowance. He also had an older sister who raised him. Holder hated himself for his lack of gratitude: He used to steal valuables from her real kids so he could raise funds to score dope. Like the woman who killed Richmond’s wife, Holder yearned for forgiveness. But more so than the woman, the detective realized he had to work overtime to earn it. Presenting himself as utterly and admirably transparent, Holder told Linden: “What you see is what you get?” Hmmmm. I think questions remain about Holder’s character. Linden asked her boss, Oakes, how exactly a low level King County narcotics cop got a sweet transfer to Seattle PD homicide. Oakes said Holder was owed a favor and cashed it in. Holder also worked a possibly dubious connection to a judge to get permission for the wiretap on Bennet. Maybe all of this is pretty innocent – at least as innocent morally ambiguous people on this show can be. But I’m not sure if we should quit wondering if Holder knows more about the Larsen murder than he’s telling. Some think Holder killed Rosie, just so he could “solve the case” (i.e., frame someone else); others think he’s withholding details and intends to play them at a moment that best serves his interests. Holder hungers for redemption. Is he pulling a Darren Richmond and playing dirty to get it?
LINDEN: Fiancé Rick still wasn’t returning her calls, though she did get someone on the line after phoning late in the evening: Another woman. She claimed to be helping Rick as he burned the midnight oil on some strictly professional business. “Little Man” Jack called his mother out: Linden just doesn’t want to move to Sonoma. She can’t bring herself to pull a Holder, if you will: To make a break with her dark, debilitating past and move toward a brighter, better future. What hold does this old case involving another little girl have on her? It weighs on her mind; like an addict, she can’t give it up. (Indeed, in her few scenes this season with Rick, he has acted more like a sponsor than a fiancé – confronting her on bad habits, holding her accountable to the new creation she wants to become.) But back to this “other woman.” If she’s more than just a work associate to Rick, I’m going to cry foul if the only reason we’re getting this twist is to make it easy for us to forgive Linden for breaking Rick’s heart. That’s not real drama; that’s a cop out.
“LITTLE MAN” JACK: Linden – stonewalled in her personal life –began to realize that her spiritual stasis was coming at a tangible, human cost. Jack – frustrated with Mom’s inattentiveness; destabilized by her dithering on Sonoma — started acting out, and I don’t mean by escaping into those hyper-violent, immersive world videogames he was playing on Linden’s computer. No, Jack sabotaged his self-sabotaging Mom by emailed the Rosie Larsen crime scene photos to his friends. The parents were NOT happy. (Did one of Jack’s pals also leak those pics to the media, or did the show want us to jump to that conclusion?) We also learned that Jack’s father – Linden’s ex – left the family 10 years ago. Why?
I’m leaving stuff unsaid, from Grieving/Neglectful/Angry Mitch to the curious Star Wars debate between Aunt Terry and the Larsen boys. Does The Empire Strikes Back hold a clue to the case – or was that bit about Darth Vader challenging Luke to face the truth about his heritage merely a thematic motif in a episode about introspection, denial, and dark side temptation? Debate! See you next week, detectives.