Spoilers for last week's "The Killing" after the jump:
I believe I've finally realized why "The Killing" isn't really working for me: it's just not different enough. There's little on this show that differs from a standard procedural other than the fact that the mystery is spread out over a season rather than contained in one episode.
Yes, it's tried a few new things: including focusing on the victim's grieving family in addition to the police investigation. But the fact remains that at its heart this show is basically an episode of "Law and Order" or "CSI" stretched to thirteen times its usual length.
Indeed, the "Law and Order" analogy works best in explaining the season's middle section. The average episode of the former show featured the police focusing on one suspect (and sometimes even arresting him or her), and then later finding out they had it wrong all along. Such was the case with Bennet. The difference is that the red herring usually lasts for about ten minutes on "Law and Order", whereas on "The Killing" it lasted for four or five increasingly dull episodes.
If we continue this comparison, "Beau Soleil" represents the part of the episode where the police finally find out who the perpetrator was (although it's always possible that Darren could be another red herring). As a result, it's probably the most purely entertaining "Killing" episode of the season. There's a sense of forward momentum here that hasn't been present for a long time.
But as other people have pointed out, a strong episode such as this only makes the preceding episodes seem even weaker in comparison. In addition, it also doesn't fill me with a lot of hope for the show's creative future (AMC officially renewed it yesterday). Even if the show starts developing the characters better or introduces some good new ones, without a dramatic change in the format of the show I really don't see how it's going to get much better.
All right, enough of that. The episode itself was indeed very entertaining from start to finish, with one glaring exception. That would be the Larsens, who wore out their welcome a long time ago. Initially the most compelling part of the show, Stan and Mitch have been hitting the same emotional notes again and again for the better part of these twelve weeks. And while Sexton and Forbes are terrific in the roles, it's become clear that their characters are just poorly-written and ill-conceived. The only sequence I liked was when Terry confronted Mitch in an attempt to lessen her own guilt over having been involved (however inadvertently) in Rosie's death.
Everything else was pretty terrific. Finally the relevance of the campaign storyline was revealed. Even if it doesn't make up for all those dull, cliched scenes of political mud-slinging, at least now there's a reason why this irritating plot was there in the first place. It's going to be interesting to see how this unfolds next week as Linden and Holder (presumably) try to put Darren away.
The two detectives continue to steal the show, particularly Holder. For once the investigation was actually as intriguing as the result of it, as they scoured the city for information on the mysterious Orpheus. These scenes crackled with tension, much like the Belko interrogation a few weeks ago did. Only this time it actually went somewhere. Good stuff, even if it makes me even less likely to come back for season 2 (and yes, I know that doesn't make a whole lot of sense).
- Lots of nice, creepy touches this week: including Orpheus's disturbingly matter-of-fact fixation on drowning and the look of abject terror on the face of the Beau Soleil girl who recounted said fixation. That bright, cheery computer sound as Linden repeatedly asked for the e-mail to be resent was something else entirely, though. Very well done.
- Linden's personal life took a back seat this week, but we did get one pretty solid scene involving her ex-husband. One gets the feeling that this storyline is set-up material for season 2.
- Why do I still get the feeling that Jamie's somehow involved in the murder?