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The Killing – Undertow

Day nine saw another big mislead revealed, more bad dialogue, and little progression in the case of Rosie Larsen's murder. There hasn't been anything outstanding about this series since its pilot episode (and there wasn't much then), but as the same tired patterns repeat again and again, The Killing seems to slip further from ever being a remarkable series and closer to being another standard police procedural with its only difference being focused on one case a season instead of an episode. Though “Undertow” had progression to part of the plot, it wasn't in the right direction, or written well enough for The Killing to break out of its own current of mediocrity.

In a show with more red herrings than a fish market, it's never a surprise when the audience is thrown another one, though their predictability doesn't make sitting through all of them less annoying. In addition to being an extremely unlikely coincidence (which seems to happen quite frequently in The Killing), the pink shirt found in the butcher shop turning out to not be Rosie's but just an identical copy, also severed any connection the lead suspect had to the murder. After hearing Bennet's call with Muhammad, in which he says the cops found the room and know about the girl, translated to all signs pointing to Bennet being directly involved in Rosie's murder. It was obvious that with four episodes left it wasn't going to be so simple, but it would have been nice if all of the last episode plots involving the FBI and connections to terrorism hadn't been rendered pointless. So Bennet becomes another in the list of characters that have been built up over multiple episodes as potentially being the killer only to turn out to have little or nothing to do with it. Granted, this is to be expected in a murder mystery, but that's why most murder mysteries aren't very good. The Killing probably isn't any worse than most of them, but it's not setting itself apart from them in any way either. Too much time is wasted on taking the audience down false trails when that time could be spent on character development. They've revealed so little about Rosie that there is little reason to care about who killed her, other than simple curiosity. We should want to see justice served and her killer(s) forced to pay for their crimes, but that's hard to do when you don't know anything about the victim. If the writers were a little less focused on building suspense and a little more focused on making their audience care about the characters, then The Killing would be much better off. For once, though, a mislead did actually have an effect on the ongoing story, though not the murder case itself.

Why a veteran detective like Linden would promise Mitch she'll have the case wrapped up within the night makes about as much sense as why she would have lied to the Larsens about how Rosie died in the first place. If the audience is supposed to believe that Linden has any experience as a homicide detective then she should have learned by now that those lies will always come back to bite her. This time around it leads Mitch to become so upset by seeing Bennet at Rosie's school after he should have been in custody that she blames Stan for letting him go when he had the chance to do something. Stan, being no more able to resist Mitch's taunts than Macbeth could his wife's, abducts Bennet with Belko's help. Stan beats Bennet to death or very close to it while Belko releases some pent up rage by punching a nearby rock. Since they discovered Rosie had been killed, this is the first real plot development either of the Larsens have seen, so it was very overdue. Following Bennet during the day as he tried to return to teaching and not being sure of his guilt at the time created conflicting feelings over how much sympathy we as the audience should have for him, which was the perfect way to lead in to his beating. While the scene during Bennet's assault was decent, how they led his character to that point was the one notably good part of the episode.

The subplot with Richmond reached a new low this episode; what had been one of the few enjoyable storylines has become as bad as the rest of the writing. Richmond's personal attack on Adams backfires as the mayor is able to shrug off the accusation of a pregnant mistress with a lie about having a vasectomy, and does it while making Richmond look like he fights dirty. None of that made for particularly compelling TV, nor did Richmond's scene with Gwen at the bar which felt liked it dragged the entire time. The worst by far, though, was Richmond risking his entire campaign on a single basketball shot. Yes, they managed to top the ridiculousness of the last episode's underground cage fight by having Richmond try to make five million dollars in exchange for his resignation if he missed the shot. Having him demand the basketball itself if he made the shot just so they could later silently reveal he was successful by showing him carrying the ball was at least half clever. There's no need for him to ask for the ball just show him in a good mood while carrying it and the audience can put two and two together. With so much wrong with the series, there's not much point in complaining about something so small, but it's very indicative of not only how bad the writing is, but that the writers think they need to dumb things down for their audience (which is quite insulting).

Undertow” may have seen a major development for a couple of the characters, but it wasn't the development the show should have been focusing on, which is finding the killer. After nine episodes the only people that aren't potential suspects are the ones they have spent a fair amount of time building up as suspects. And though Belko's disturbing rage seems to have put the spotlight on him, it's hard to be too excited when every other suspect has turned out to be a bust, or to be excited for the next episode in general.

Rating
5.0

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