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.
Based on the bestseller by Nicolas Sparks the film begins with Duke (James Garner) and Allie (Gena Rowlands) an inseparable couple living in a nursing home. While Duke remembers their life together Allie who suffers from progressive dementia does not. Their only bond is a faded notebook from which Duke reads to Allie every day telling her the same story over and over. It's a sweeping tale of two South Carolina teens country boy Noah (Ryan Gosling) and city gal Allie (Rachel McAdams) who spend one glorious summer in the early 1940s falling madly in love. Unfortunately the couple is soon separated first by her disapproving parents and then by World War II but after seven years apart after taking different paths they are passionately reunited. There's a catch though; Allie is now faced to choose between the man she once loved and the successful businessman (James Marsden) she is engaged to. It's really no surprise who the young Allie chooses in the end--but for Duke the only thing that keeps him going is the fact that every day somehow through the power of this story the mentally impaired Allie miraculously remembers their love if only for a very brief moment before slipping back into oblivion. Tears being jerked from your eyes yet?
The talented cast certainly elevates The Notebook's romantic drudgery. McAdams takes a departure from all the Mean Girls she's played lately (including The Hot Chick) and easily wins you over as the spirited young Allie while the usually intense Gosling also tackles something lighter so to speak than his previous darker roles such as his Jewish-turned-American Nazi leader in The Believer. While infusing a certain sense of brooding and melancholy into Noah especially in the years he spends pining for Allie Gosling manages to exude Noah's genuine warmth and sensitivity as well. And between the two of them real sparks fly as the actors paint a fresh and inviting picture of young love that stands the test of time. Marsden is completely wasted however as Allie's fiancé Lon a upstanding Southern gentleman Allie's parents expect her to marry who offers little as to why Allie should stay with him. As the older contingency veterans Garner and Rowlands who take the sappiest material and turn it into something meaningful inspire some truly heart-ripping moments as the aging couple holding onto their love as tight as they can. In the supporting cast Joan Allen has some shining moments as Allie's uptight mother with a secret of her own.
In bringing the popular novel about enduring love to life director Nick Cassavetes (Unhook the Stars) may have used his own experiences having seen his parents--the late John Cassavetes and his lady love and muse Gena Rowlands--play out their own real-life love affair. Cassavettes gets to the heart of the material right away and permeates the screen with the beautiful surroundings of South Carolina where The Notebook was filmed. We glide through lush moss-filled swamps and sleepy Southern towns marvel at languid shots of the South Carolina coastline. It's very clear Cassavetes has a way with actors much like his father did gently coaxing realistic performances from his young somewhat untested leads while allowing old guards like Garner and Rowlands to simply work their magic (imagine telling your Oscar-nominated mother how to act. Right). The problem is the story itself which not only offers nothing new to the romance genre but also isn't very compelling. There are no great tragedies (save perhaps for the whole dementia thing) no real villainous presence to keep the lovers apart no peril at all. It's boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-wins-girl-back--ho-hum. Where's the sudsy soap opera when you need it?