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October 13, 2015

'The Killing' Season 1, Episode 4 Recap

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 17th 2011 11:00PM
['The Killing' - 'A Soundless Echo']

Some have complained about the pace of 'The Killing,' which has been described as satisfyingly deliberate by fans of the show. Those who haven't been fully won are more in the "Boy, this is slooow" camp.

I'm still fully on board with this AMC show, but truth be told, this episode did feel a little draggy. Is it me, or did Holder's bus ride seem to take forever?

A slow-down was bound to happen, I suppose. The show actually got a lot accomplished in its first three hours -- it introduced a large number of characters, got several interrelated story lines going and established its distinctive, rain-soaked atmosphere. And 'The Killing' has to fill out a 13-episode season, so eventually some episodes were bound to feel less urgent than others. Still, it's not as though nothing happened: Secrets are starting to bubble up, and things that various people would rather keep quiet may not withstand the cold, relentless scrutiny of a murder investigation.

Red herrings are popping up too. Turns out the cage video was a big non-issue. It was an ugly, joyless clip, but it didn't show a pre-murder rape of Rosie. It showed consensual, drug-fueled sex among Sterling, Jasper and Kris Echols. It may be depressing as hell, but it's not a smoking gun and incriminates no one.

Not that I wanted that to be our last image of Rosie, but given how much weight was given to the discovery of the cage and that video, to find out so quickly that all of that was basically meaningless in the grand scheme of the investigation was a bit of a letdown. It made me wonder how many other of the show's byways will end up leading nowhere. Some must, of course, but unless those digressions are counterbalanced with compelling character portraits and general momentum in the overall story, the red herrings might start to annoy.

Still, we did move forward on several fronts. I thought it might make sense to go through each thread or set of characters, one by one, and discuss what we learned and how that story line was depicted:

The Larsens: I've highly praised 'The Killing' for its searing and truthful depiction of grief, and I'm not going back on that now. And it's not so much the sadness of the Larsens' story line that I'm mildly objecting to in this episode -- it's the general pace of it. Maybe I'm asking too much, because grief often leaves people frozen in pain, and the images of Mitch and Stanley sleepwalking through their daughter's funeral arrangements or grimly transfixed by the pictures of her body feel appropriate to what they're going through.

But, as heartless as this is to say, we need to see more than just their very real and wrenching pain. These actors are great, and the more notes and colors we can see from them, the more the series will benefit. I'm not expecting happy family scenes any time soon, but Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton will clearly be able to deliver whatever the writers ask of them. I'm just hoping they don't get asked to play the same kinds of relentlessly grim scenes over and over again. It would be monotonous for both them and us.

On the "what we learned" front, there was an implication that Stan used to do some rather unsavory work, perhaps as some kind of muscle or enforcer, back in the day. In any event, his employee seemed to think that if Stan wanted to put the hurt on someone, he could make that happen very easily.

Stan also went to a mysterious cafe owner for a loan (or a gift?). Is that guy family? Stan doesn't want to think of him as such but clearly the bond there goes beyond business ties. As was the case with his daughter, Stan now has something hidden away in a secret place -- he has money that may bail the family out of some serious financial trouble (trouble that Mitch doesn't fully know about). But it's clear that the decision to go to the cafe owner could rebound on him. (And oddly enough, Darren Richmond is in a similar position -- he's beholden to someone he may not want to be in debt to).

As for Mitch, she's basically spinning out, looking for something or someone who can help her get through this awful time. Organized religion clearly isn't helping her, so she turns to Sterling, who feels very guilty about lying thus doesn't really want to be around Mitch. It's heartbreaking to realize that when Mitch embraces Sterling, Mitch doesn't know about the video and all the things Sterling failed to tell the police. Poor Mitch -- she turns from Sterling, who lied about Rosie's last night, to Bennet, who may have been sleeping with her daughter. If only she knew what these people were holding back, she might be in even more pain.

The question is, would knowing the truth help or harm Mitch more? She now knows more about how her daughter died, thanks to those photos, but it's not as if seeing the truth about her daughter's grisly end will help her sleep any better.

Will Bennet's connection to Rosie be another red herring? We'll have to wait to find that out. One thing's certain: Mitch is clinging tightly to the image of Rosie that she had in her head. That image of her daughter may well be wildly inaccurate.

Linden and Holder: I did wonder about Linden's methodology regarding the buses. Wouldn't it make sense to contact the transit system and have one of the detectives talk to every driver who had worked the 108 route? I suppose the way Holder did things here -- just get on the bus and hope for the best -- did allow him to connect more of the dots regarding the bus trips, eventually. He followed a Port Washington student to what appeared to be a youth center -- one with ties to Bennet, Rosie and the Richmond campaign. But good heavens, that whole bus sequence could have been tightened up a lot. The bus trip dragged, and there were a couple too many scenes of Holder walking down dark alleys before he got to the rec center. There's creating atmosphere, and then there's just taking too long to get a character from Point A to Point B.

On the Linden front, how funny (and weirdly refreshing) that a guy is playing the annoying role typically reserved for female characters. Linden is emotionally remote and work-obsessed, and Rick is the one who turns up to remind Linden she's in a relationship -- he even brings wedding cake! Still, my amusement at the role reversal only goes so far. If he keeps turning up just to get in Linden's way, he could become pretty annoying.

The biggest issue here is that we have no knowledge of who Rick is as a person -- we only know that he wants Linden to ditch her job once and for all and come down to Sonoma. It's not exactly a role with great range. The writers either have to give Rick a few interesting traits or eliminate him from the picture.

All that being said, the scene of Rick and Linden's son went in an interesting direction. We didn't get the typical teen-stepdad shouting match, we got a mildly funny scenario in which the two guys, both left behind by Linden, scarfed down way too much cake. A nice moment of realistic levity in a show that sometimes needs. it.

Darren Richmond/Politics: As expected, the whole "Jamie is the mole" story isn't quite as simple as it seemed. I didn't expect it to be, but it was still good to see that Richmond isn't dumb. I would have been tempted to mentally check out of that story had the Jamie/Gwen/mole scenario turned out to be pointless and predictable, but as we saw here, Richmond has a plan when it comes to Jamie.

Now, we do know that he wasn't the mole, and we know that Richmond and Jamie conspired to get the campaign worker hired by his opponent's camp. Mission accomplished. But what we don't know for sure is whether Gwen is the source of the leak. She'd be the likeliest culprit, given that she's the only other campaign worker we've met, but that still hasn't been fully established.

Still, we did learn that Gwen is the daughter of a senator, one who thinks that she's not quite cut out for the game of thrones mayoral politics. It was lovely to see Alan Dale playing a typically Alan Dale-ian character. He's always so great at playing That Sketchy Wealthy Guy With a Hidden Agenda, which he has now played on, I believe, 87 different shows. And he always does it well.

Speaking of rich guys, Richmond grimly took a check from a bigwig donor with an even bigger ego. And like almost everyone else in this world, Richmond is keeping even more secrets than he was at the start of the show -- Gwen doesn't know what he knows about Jamie.

Lots of people don't know things that they might be shocked or hurt to discover. Some new information about Rosie is being uncovered, but new secrets and lies are also piling up in dark corners. Rosie's life may be over, but the reverberations of her death among the living are just starting to play out.

A few bullet points:

• A nosebleed? That much blood from a nosebleed? That does not seem credible, but I guess we're going to have to just accept that. Still, no. They should not have put that much blood on the set if we're now supposed to buy that it came from a nosebleed.

• "They know you got the itch like me?" Hmm, did Holder get a little too involved in drug culture when he was working undercover?

• What was that silver packet that Linden discovered in her son's pillow? Was it just a food wrapper? Was it from a pack of cigarettes? Something else? I couldn't quite tell.

'The Killing' airs 10PM ET Sundays on AMC.

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One important point that I don't think you covered in your recap was the discussion/interrogation between Holder and Kris Echols, specifically the shift in body language and comfortability that comes over Kris after Holder reveals that they have brought him in for the Sterling video recording; through their dialog, I took it that Kris does know more about the crime but realized that the cops don't know anything about it (given that the sterling recording was the impetus for his questioning) and therefore was not about to open his mouth. Linden tries to warn Holder that the recording is not of Rosie, but given Holder's stubbornness to prove he is a capable detective, waves Linden off before she can explain the situation to him, resulting in him blowing the interrogation and a potential lead.

April 18 2011 at 2:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Brett's comment
Karen Lawler

I very much agree, and becauase I think Kris and Sterling and Jasper are all a lot more involved than we realize right now, I'm giving the show the benefit of the doubt on that nose bleed and the amount of time we spent believing the video was key. It was obvious Kris thought the police had something ELSE up their sleeve, something that DID incriminate him, or demonstrate his involvement, so I'm hoping that something is related to what we've already learned.

April 20 2011 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Mel

exactly. you covered that perfectly.

April 21 2011 at 8:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael Mel's comment
Michael Mel


April 21 2011 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

I'm going to stick with "The Killing" though I admit that at the end of the episode, I'm not wishing the next episode would hurry up and get here. I'm not eager to find out what may happen next and I think that has more to do with the actual plot than the slowness of the show. How about borrowing "The Cousins" from "Breaking Bad" to liven up thtings up? I still miss them.

April 18 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As to the Larsens' grief; I can tell you that when my mother died in 2004, I remember absolutely nothing of the time between her death and the funeral itself, including the trip to the funeral home to pick out the urn for her ashes. People grieve in different ways, but I can totally identify with the way these characters are acting. Kudos to both Forbes and Sexton.

April 18 2011 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A weak episode. The church scene with the Larsens was a cliche that definitely turned me off. The interrogation scenes lacked energy. In the last episode, it felt like Linden and Holder were building up a bit of professional chemistry, but this week they seemed to regress back to before Holder found the cage. The only thing that really held up was the end with the multiple discoveries by the various characters.

April 18 2011 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jacob's comment
Karen Lawler

I do agree that Mitch's response in the church was a cliche, but I kind of think it's one of those, 'cliched for a reason' cliches that is so true of many people's reactions to deaths, especially violent deaths, would be to dishonest to their grief.

I did also think Mitch was going in a slightly different direction with her focus on Jesus' injuries in the church...I almost wonder if she is relating more to Jesus but blaming god, and seeing him as even more heartless because he could do that to his own son...or maybe the injuries just reminded Mitch of what she saw in the Police station, I don't know.

April 20 2011 at 8:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The packet in the pillow was cigarettes. You can see them for a second or two as she's holding them.

April 18 2011 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it was pot that Linden found in the pillow.

April 18 2011 at 2:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to leafhound's comment
Mo Ryan

ah! Thought it might be something like that, but the foil, er, foiled me. Thanks!

April 18 2011 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was likely the weakest installment in the short life of this show so far, but I like the direction in which it's heading. It was intriguing to Stan's past come up and I want to see how that catches up to him. Similar to your review, I think the Larsens are starting to get a bit repetitive. It's like they just give them a situation (dinner, answering machine, funeral home etc.) and then cue sadness. Then again, it's only been three days since they learned their daughter died, so I can't declare it a flaw at this point.

And I was pleased that the video wasn't of Rosie. It would more annoying to me to know that such a major piece of evidence was so luckily handed over to the detectives versus, ya know, doing detective work.

April 18 2011 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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