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The Killing – Stonewalled

With each day in, The Killing seems to be further from answering the question, “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” Or the question, “Why should we be watching The Killing? Though we learned a little more about some of the characters and even saw a potential piece of evidence uncovered, “Stonewalled” was a fitting description of how this series is making its audience feel when it comes to advancing the plot.

The beginning of the episode finds Linden and Holder still face down on the ground with guns to their heads, while the audience finally gets a look at the room they're in. Seemingly set up to house a young girl, what we see of the room is highly disturbing. But we are of course denied anymore immediate answers; along with the two detectives, as the FBI pushes them out and refuses to tell them more than what we all had already guessed; that they're going after suspected terrorists. Seeing Linden become unhinged as she loses control of the case to the Feds (now there's an original idea), was an interesting turn for the woman that's so placid it's hard to believe she's human sometimes. When you add having to deal with her son leaking crime scene photos, it was definitely time for Linden to reach a breaking point; and certainly well past time for her to display some kind of emotion. Beyond seeing another side of Linden's character, she also made some progress on the case by confirming that a shirt found in the room belonged to Rosie, or at least did at some point. Though this could be taking us right to the killer, it feels just as likely it will turn out to be another big mislead (remember the pink wig?), that distracts the detectives and the audience.

Holder's narcotics anonymous meeting while giving us some background on the character, and being solidly performed on his part, was yet another cliched scene in a long line the series has already given us. The Killing's acting and dialogue (that the writer's at least managed to keep out of cringe territory for Holder's speech, if not the rest of the episode) simply aren't of a quality to justify making its audience sit through scenes they've already seen play out dozens of times in both TV and film. Opportunities to learn more about these characters come around so rarely that for the writers to waste one on something as overdone as a drug addict's tearful confession and it not be absolutely perfect, is a real shame. And while struggling with his addiction explains, and in some way maybe even justifies Holder's overall shady behavior and creepy persona, it doesn't make those traits any more affable, or improve how well the character is written.

Seeing Richmond go on the offensive was a nice change of pace for the way they've been writing his character, which normally seems too one-dimensional to be anything other than the politician with a heart of gold. His reluctance to do a personal attack on Adams did however lead to the rather predictable plot of Richmond having to decide between standing resolute and potentially losing the election or to give in to his dark side and leak the dirt when it inevitably came to light. How the campaign obtained the info on Adams' mistress also wasn't well written. Jamie meeting with his contact at an underground cage fighting match came out of left field. A little ridiculous and very unnecessary (we get it, this guy is shady; why not just have them meet in a parking garage wearing trench coats?), the scene felt jarring and almost like an attempt by the writers to grab their audience's attention since they knew their dramatic scenes weren’t. Richmond's decision to leak the story is influenced less by his fear of losing the election and more from the residing anger caused from attending the parole board hearing for the woman who killed his wife. Though Campbell's acting wasn't bad, the writers couldn't give him anything more original to work with than punching a mirror in a bathroom to express how enraged he was. Still, with little advancement to the case, Richmond's campaign and personal life were still the most compelling aspects of the episode, as far as story goes.

Unfortunately, the Larsen's weren't seeing any such development and we're back to their usual one-trick selves: all grief, all the time. Mitch in particular has become unbearable and it's difficult to remember a time when she didn't have red rimmed eyes that were ready to tear up again in an instant, if they weren't already. Even after Mitch nearly let her two sons asphyxiate on exhaust fumes in the garage, found out the police had a new piece of evidence, and had a fight with Stan, there seemed to be no change in her demeanor or character. The end of the episode left her the same way we found her; overcome with grief and unable to do anything but obsess over Rosie. All of that would be perfectly fine; it's to be expected from a mother who's only had 8 days to deal with the loss of a child, if the writers would just give us something else with it. Back story, development, or just some acting that knocks our socks off; some reason to make the audience care as much about these grief stricken scenes as the scores of ones just like them The Killing has already done.

The episode went out with yet another cliffhanger, though for once, it was more for the characters than the audience. Holder and Linden head in to hear what has been learned from the tap Holder had placed on Bennet's phone, which had already been revealed to be Bennet assuring someone that the passports will be arrive the next day (how convenient that he started speaking English in time for us to catch that). Though this certainly seems to indicate Bennet's involvement in whatever terrorism plot the FBI is investigating, unless that shirt really does lead back to Rosie, it doesn't add anymore to why we're really here; to find out what happened to her. Which seems to be a problem The Killing can't get away from; it's bogged down with plots, scenes, and dialogue that aren't good enough to make up for the lack of development to the main storyline. Which is why it's episodes; “Stonewalled” included, have been varying degrees of mediocrity ever since they finished establishing the main plot.



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