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Though I was excited to see Ed Bianchi (one of my favorite directors) taking the reigns for a second time in the series, even he couldn't elevate this episode into something worthwhile. The plot and characters did see some development, but it wasn't enough to make day seven of the investigation into Rosie Larsen's murder a very revealing one, or to make the episode live up to its name.
Coming off the latest cliffhanger, The Killing jumped right back in where it left off; with Stan Larsen driving to an unknown destination with the primary suspect in his daughter's murder riding shotgun. It was hard to judge what Stan might do; knowing little of his past other than former ties to the Polish mob, but I didn't have much doubt as to Bennet Ahmed making it home in one piece. I was however expecting Stan to question Bennet about his relationship with Rosie and found it frustrating not getting any of those answers, and even though we find out later Stan was protecting himself from being the man he used to be, I find it hard to believe he would have walked away without learning something. Stan did put up a couple of solid performances however; the first being the one I just mentioned when he explains to Mitch why he let Bennet go. Hearing how Rosie's birth changed him was a revealing moment for both the character and actor, giving me a hope that Brent Sexton has the chops to do convincing emotional scenes while delivering dialogue, and not just breaking down alone in a gas station bathroom. The second great scene was with his two sons. After seeing news coverage about Rosie's death the boys wanted to know what actually happened and were not going to accept Stan's old answer (“No more heaven stuff, okay dad?”). In addition to that powerful line, the choice to shoot the scene from a distance emphasized how the viewer feels... they can't comfort these boys who lost their sister and best friend and neither can Stan, but like any dad, he tries his best.
Though the Larsen's mourning is becoming tiresome in many ways, it is important to remember that they've only been grieving for a week. Even so, it was nice to see Mitch doing something other than sob. Her overwhelming grief hardening into anger could prove to be an interesting turn, so long as it doesn't end as anticlimactically as Stan's confrontation with Bennet did. Michelle Forbes has put up the best performance, despite some poorly written dialogue in some of her scenes, but the writers still need to find a way to add depth to the character by giving her something to do other than weep for Rosie.
Linden and Holder continued to be nearly insufferable this episode. Linden for stretching out the “Is she staying or is she going?” plot, yet again. Like many of the storylines, it's hard to generate enthusiasm when you already know the outcome. The murder isn't going to be solved at the drop-of-a-hat, anymore than the main character is going to leave town before it is solved. In addition, her silent pondering which was endearing for awhile has become like watching paint dry and takes up far too much time no matter how true to life it is. In regards to Holder, he maintained both his creepy demeanor and his cringe worthy dialogue that would sound more fitting coming from a thirteen year old; a thirteen year old that is very behind on his “street” lingo. When the leads are this unlikeable in a mystery series, specifically one that doesn't seem to be too concerned with ever solving the mystery, it's hard to enjoy any episode, Vengeance was no exception.Though Richmond's campaign, and it's derailing due to the Larsen murder, had been one of the more interesting aspects of the series, it's also been faltering lately. The campaign didn't see much advancement in this episode. Mayor Adams' attack ad going after Richmond for his association with Bennet Ahmed was expected and the campaign staff's reaction was more of the same; Jamie pushing for Richmond to be the cold, calculating politician he has to be to win and Gwen telling him to take the highroad as she hikes up her skirt and hops on his desk. The acting and dialogue weren't good enough to make the little we learned of his wife's death and the meeting with her mother worth watching either.
They seem to be betting that their cliffhangers can keep pulling in the audience week after week as the writers once again ended the episode with a “What the hell!?” moment. Seeing Linden and Holder on their bellies with guns aimed at their heads was satisfying. However, the reveal of the FBI and a potential investigation into terrorism seems to reiterate that this show just isn't up to the higher standard of drama that AMC is known for, but rather a series filled with overdone storylines and cheap thrills to hook viewers... never really satisfying any of them. AMC has done character studies and plot heavy dramas with equal aplomb, but with each episode of The Killing it becomes clearer that it's not up to snuff in either of those categories.