Thursday, June 9, 2011

"The Killing" - "Missing"

Spoilers for last week's very strong "The Killing" after the jump:

Note: I know I said on Twitter that I was done with this show. I changed my mind (thanks in no small part to AMC putting this episode online for free, which is something I wish they'd do with their other shows). I will see it through to the end of the season, and then I'll evaluate whether or not I plan to return next year (assuming it gets renewed).

Now this is what I've been looking for from this show.

As some reviewers have noted, perhaps the timing wasn't great. After all, we're heading into the home stretch of the season. And instead of focusing on the Larsen murder, the show decides to basically take a break from all of that and spend almost an entire episode on Linden and Holder searching for Jack. But let's stop for a minute and think.

One of the main issues with this thus-far disappointing show has been that it doesn't really know what it wants to be. AMC has been marketing the series as mystery/police procedural centered around the question of "who killed Rosie Larsen?". But I think at heart this show wants to be more than that. If all these scenes of Rosie's grieving family (absent this week, as was the irritating Richmond campaign) have told us one thing, it's that "The Killing" has its heart set on being a slow-burning character drama like "Mad Men". And this episode was definitely a step in that direction, although I have no doubt that the show will switch its focus back to the murder mystery in the next episode.

Indeed, the episode bore a striking resemblance to "The Suitcase" from "Mad Men's" most recent season. Now, I'm not saying "Missing" was as good as that episode. Holder and Linden aren't nearly as fascinating as Don and Peggy, due to several factors (not least of which is the fact that this show hasn't been around as long as "Mad Men" and thus has less back story to draw on). But it was quite possibly my favorite hour of "The Killing" yet due to the way it developed these two characters.

The relationship between Holder and Linden has been one of the most interesting aspects of the show thus far, so it was great to see it put front and center for once. They aren't friends, exactly. But as this episode showed us, they have more in common than meets the eye.

Both are good at their jobs, but their personal relationships are extremely messy and quite possibly damaged for good. As Holder drove Linden around to look for her missing son, he also made several phone calls to his sister and her kids.These calls (particularly his apology for missing the parade) were movingly acted by Joel Kinnaman, and they served as a decent parallel to what was going on with Linden.

Mireille Enos, by the way, was stunning in this episode. This should be her Emmy submission if she gets nominated. She was never less than convincing as she began to open up to Holder just a bit, and she completely sold Sarah's terror and anguish as she ran towards what she thought was Jack's body (false alarm). It was an emotional climax to a fairly low-key installment. She then went to the motel and found Jack, home from visiting his father. (Is there a chance for these two to repair their relationship? I'm not sure, given Linden's line about how "some things can't be fixed".)

So in other words, the episode was a complete waste of time. Except it wasn't. Much like "Breaking Bad's" "Fly" (another episode this one invites comparison to), what we learned about these characters in "Missing" will likely affect how we see them for the rest of the series. Well done, "The Killing". Now let's see if you can be this good when the main mystery returns.

Other Observations

- Again, not much on the Larsen front this week. We did find out that the casino people were lying about her not being there. Big surprise.

- So, who did it? We've ruled out Belko, and I seriously doubt one of these casino people did it. So I really have no clue, and I also don't really care. My gut says it's somehow connected to the Richmond campaign, though.

Grade: A-


  1. I'd be interested to see this version of The Killing and how it stacks up against Forbrydelsen, the original version, which was a hit here in the UK. However, I am slightly concerned from reports that I've read so far.

  2. Didn't the Danish version win a BAFTA? I seem to remember reading that.

    As for the U.S. version, it's had its fair share of problems. The first few episodes (particuarly the two-hour premiere) were pretty terrific. But since then it's been going downhill at a pretty quick pace. "Missing" was the first really good episode in a while, but unless the final two episodes really hit it out of the park I'm probably not going to be back for season 2 (which is virtually a certainty, although AMC hasn't officially renewed it yet) despite the strong acting and direction. Too much focus on red herrings, not enough on the characters.

    It's far from bad, though. Definitely stronger than your standard police procedural. But it's just not in the same league as something like "Breaking Bad". Do you get any of AMC's other shows in the U.K.? Because "Breaking Bad" is a must-see.