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Monday, February 27, 2012 10:34 AM
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011 09:56 AM
On the Viewer - The Killing, Season One
 by Fëanor

(I couldn't help myself, and slipped in a few spoilers here and there. Walk carefully!)

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first: The Killing occasionally frustrated me with the way it danced around in place rather than actually advancing the plot. It would seem to be shuffling forward only to suddenly say, "Gotcha!" and jump backwards, revealing that all that stuff we'd just seen was a bunch of red herrings and we were actually no closer than we were before to knowing who'd really killed Rosie Larsen. I think this is what frustrated so many about the final episode of the first season. A lot of us were expecting that the killer would finally be revealed, and the episode encourages that expectation. Everything seems to be wrapping up, and things finally seem to be getting marginally better for many of our characters, whom fate has been dumping on since episode 1. Then all of the sudden it all falls apart again, and nothing is as it seemed.

It's a bit frustrating, and it even seems a bit cheap. But is it really? Nothing that happens comes entirely out of left field. There are no retcons. At this point it should not be surprising that nothing is okay, no one is who we think they are, and truth is a myth. That's the theme of The Killing, after all - its dark, bloody, noir heart: everything is ruined and it will never get better; everyone is brimming with terrible secrets, most of which we will never know.

The Killing is unquestionably excellent TV - riveting, thrilling, uncompromising, brutal. The writing is subtle and powerful. The characters - all lonely, broken souls - are deep and real and fascinating. The cast is tremendous, especially Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden, the head detective on the case; Joel Kinnaman as her green partner, Stephen Holder; and Brent Sexton as Rosie's father, Stan Larsen. There's even a cohesive look to the show - a grayness that hangs heavily over everything. One episode centers entirely on Linden and Holder. It barely moves the plot forward at all, focusing instead on Linden's search for her missing son. But it doesn't matter that the plot doesn't move forward, because what's interesting - what the show is really about, thank God - are the people: their devastated selves and their fractured relationships. And inside of them and all around them all along, informing the increasing desperation of Linden's search, is the story of Rosie Larsen, and its unexplained and violent ending.

The Killing is dark, deeply affecting, and dripping with grief. You have to steal yourself to watch it. In one particularly moving early scene, Stanley, the father of the dead girl, stops the car at a gas station and tells his wife, Mitch, he needs to buy some oil. He walks into the bathroom and utterly breaks down, sobbing uncontrollably. When he gets back into the car he calmly explains that they didn't have any oil and drives away.

In the final episodes, Terry Marek, Rosie's aunt, works hard to pull the Larsen family back together, bailing out Stanley and apologizing to Stanley's creepy friend and employee, Belko, imploring him to stay. And there's even a scene that seems to suggest that Mitch and Stan are going to repair their fractured relationship. It's what other television shows and movies have taught us to expect - there are tears and hugs and then everything gets better. But in the next handful of scenes, we learn that Belko has snapped at last, and Mitch has left anyway, and nothing is better - nothing will ever be better.

Of course, despite its dark themes (and despite all that Seattle rain!), The Killing isn't all gloom and doom. It's often funny, even if darkly so. One of the funnier characters is Holder. I originally despised him, but came to like him a great deal as the season went on. He's still a jerk, but he becomes a likable jerk. Which is another reason why the ending of the last episode is hard to swallow. The show raised our suspicions about Holder early on, only to clear them away - and then finally confirm them all at the last minute, revealing him as a traitor with questionable motives. And we all know Linden is getting off that plane again. Poor Jack!

So who really did kill Rosie Larsen? Maybe we'll never know. But I'll be back for the second season. Lord help me.
Tagged (?): On the Viewer (Not), The Killing (Not), TV (Not)
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