S1E3: Last night, The Killing proved one thing: it is not fucking around.
After a slow (but still fun, don't get me wrong) start to the series last week, we returned this week for some more creepy suspects, more investigation, and of course, more Seattle rain. But something felt a little different about this episode; and honestly, I'm not quite sure if I can put my finger on what exactly it was. In "El Diablo," the show continued to push the possibility that nearly every person on screen at any moment could be the killer or, at least, be connected to the killer. Combine that with the sinister footage at the end of the episode, and suddenly, we're operating inside of a world where we're not only uncertain of who is who or what is what, but also a world where terrible, terrible things happen. This, I think, is a smart strategy because an hour-long drama that focuses on only ONE murder is bound to feel slow and dragged out at times, so providing an environment that feels almost surreal, a hazy, dreamlike place where everyone's a suspect keeps the audience involved.
"We're still getting married, right?" -Rick
Linden and Holder are still investigating the murder, but it's taking much longer than Linden originally expected. She's been "forced" to stay to help investigate the crime. I used forced with quotations because it appears that inside of Linden's head, there's quite a bit of insecurity and doubt happening. I'm not really quite sure what to make of it, because we really don't know much about her relationship with Rick, and I don't want to say that she's using the murder as a reason to not commit to her new relationship, but at the same time, it's apparent that on some level she's using the murder as a reason to not commit to her new relationship. Undoubtedly, Linden cares tremendously for the Larsen killing and what happened to the family, and she very much wants to solve the crime for them. I don't want to doubt her motives. But with the amount of time the show continues to invest in her and Rick's relationship strife, I can't help but assume that there's some part of her that wants to stay in Seattle just so she doesn't need to deal with those problems.
"El Diablo…" -Janitor Lyndon Johnson Rosales
As the two detectives investigate, they discover, for a moment, a prime suspect: the janitor. His name is Lyndon Johnson Rosales, and he is the only person other than the principal with keys to the "cage" -- the site of Rosie's murder. That suspicion grows after they find he's a sex offender and when they arrive at his apartment, he jumps out of the third story window. But it's revealed that Rosales spent that Friday night drunk so he's quickly removed from the suspect list. The detectives chat with him, and we learn that he saw Rosie with Jasper's best friend, Kris Echols. But all of these reveals don't happen in a jovial, happy way. Rather, Rosales is horrified by what happened and as he recounts it, he can't help but just say "El Diablo, El Diablo…" over and over again -- a fittingly creepy scene for this creepy show.
"You're letting sex cloud your judgment. Screw you." -Jamie
Meanwhile in the political world, things are just as unclear. Richmond discovers -- or at least thinks he does -- the leak in his office: Jamie. But, in the same way that show presents everybody as a potential suspect in the murder investigation, anything that anybody else does ALSO feels very, very suspicious. Right now, there's only one character we can trust and that's Linden (at the same time, with what I discussed above, that might even be a stretch because we're not quite sure what's going on in Linden's head regarding her career or relationships). So, even though there's "proof" of Jamie's leak (a printed email from his work account), it's still presented with a seed of doubt (rightfully too, by the way -- who would send a leak with their work email in 2011?). He claims to be set up, which fits right into the world of The Killing. The show has created an atmosphere where no one can be trusted to do anything. Hell, let's say one of the characters went to pick up coffee for their boss and accidentally used soy milk instead of half and half. In the world of The Killing, even if we watched that person enter and leave the coffee shop, there's still the possibility that somebody else snuck in and messed up the order.
"You told them we were at the dance!" -Kris Echols
Once the detectives discover that Kris was somehow involved with getting Rosie into the cage, they try to talk to him. He denies everything, and we think we've once again hit a wall in the case. Echols has something to do with it, for sure, but the detectives don't have any hard evidence to question him with -- that is, until one of the school teachers reveals a cell phone video he found. It's graphic, but it depicts Rosie Larsen being raped by both Kris and his best friend Jasper, who's wearing a devil mask as he does it.
The build-up to this moment was extremely well-done and proved that, if the audience is willing to be patient, the show will pay off. Sure, it may get tedious spending so much time focusing on only one murder, especially when we're used to shows like Law and Order or Bones where each case is wrapped in an episode. Regardless, this form of storytelling gives The Killing the opportunity to breathe a little bit. People and critics are comparing the show to Twin Peaks, and although that rings true, right now it feels more along the lines of The Wire. I know we're not tapping wires, looking for drugs and dealing with the world of Baltimore, but the show is taking its time flushing out all aspects of the murder: the cops, the family, the politics, the school, everything. Through an unfiltered eye, we're seeing each side of the story as it progresses toward its end goal of whodunit. And you know what? It's working. It's working really, really well.
Let's give a big hand to the two newest members of the Mile High Club. Yes total strangers Oliver (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily (Amanda Peet) hook up during an otherwise quiet flight from L.A. to New York City. Heck the two don't say a word until they bump into each other at the baggage claim. "Blah blah it's ruined " Emily moans the second Oliver opens his big mouth. How sweet. How could they not be soul mates? So what if they share nothing in common aside from a mutual attraction? The bashful Oliver's an aspiring Internet entrepreneur eager to marry the perfect woman live in a beautiful house and drive the flashiest car. The outgoing Emily's an actress with less talent than Paris Hilton and a thing for lousy musicians and writers. So why do director Nigel Cole and screenwriter Colin Patrick Lynch insist on making this lousy love match? They even drag this dead-end romance from the late 1990s to today as Oliver bets Emily $50 that he will have the life he desires in just seven years. Predictably absence makes the heart grow fonder and whenever they cross paths--from a day in New York City or a night in L.A.--they fall more in love with each other. Of course there's always something preventing them from making a commitment. Yawn. By the time Oliver and Emily decide it's now or never they've grown so whiny and wearisome you won't care whether they spend the rest of their lives together or apart.
Kutcher promises to slip on his tighty whities and model again for Calvin Klein if A Lot Like Love reigns supreme at the box office. Sorry girls that won't happen. But Kutcher does flash a little flesh when he drops his drawers for Peet. Otherwise he doesn't display much of anything else in his most wretched offering since My Boss's Daughter. If ever Kutcher wanted to prove he can inject a little charisma or personality into an underwritten role A Lot Like Love offers him his greatest opportunity. But he blows it. Or maybe he's not capable of doing anything other than getting so flustered he can barely spit out his words as he does in all his witless comedies. Kutcher's Oliver Martin is as bland as his name and as dull as his line of business. This makes it tough to believe Emily--in the form of the spunky Peet--would even think twice about pursuing a relationship with this drip. Then again the relentlessly grating Emily isn't exactly a prize catch negating Peet's efforts to give A Lot Like Love a little pungency. You have to pity Peet: she so willingly participates in one farcical flop after another--from Whipped to Saving Silverman to The Whole Ten Yards--that she's dangerously close to ruining what was never really a particularly promising career.
Ever cleaned out the back of your car and found a soundtrack CD you forgot you bought? Those CDs always boast great pop songs that you never hear on the radio anymore. But no matter how many times you listen to the songs you can't remember the film that accompanied the soundtrack. That's A Lot Like Love: terrific soundtrack lousy movie. To lazily evoke a sense of time and place director Nigel Cole leans heavily on well-worn hits from the late 1990s and early 2000s by Smash Mouth and Third Eye Blind. That would be all well and dandy if Cole at least injected A Lot Like Love with some comic pizzazz. For a film told over the course of seven years A Lot Like Love moves slowly awkwardly and uneventfully. Perhaps Cole left his sense of humor back in England where he directed the screwy Saving Grace and the plucky Calendar Girls. Or maybe he's more comfortable chronicling the misadventures of middle-aged women than the bed-hopping antics of self-involved twentysomethings. He gets so desperate for laughs that he makes Kutcher and Peet spit water at each other during a dinner eaten in silence. But the most grating moment sadly recalls Say Anything's sweet and touching climax: rather than blast Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes from a boom box a guitar-strumming Kutcher instead serenades Peet with an unfunny off-key rendition of Bon Jovi's "I'll be There For You." OK so maybe not every song on the soundtrack deserves another spin.