‘The Killing’ Recap: Stonewalled

The Killing Episode 8:Do you guys remember when The Killing was awesome? That was only a few weeks ago — but, boy, doesn’t it feel like a lot longer? We started with an atmosphere-focused show, driven by small reveals and character study; but suddenly, in the past couple of episodes, it’s as if AMC accidentally pushed play on a couple of old CSI episodes it had in its vault rather than The Killing.

Granted, there are still enjoyable parts of the show, but on the whole, everything is just… boring. The Larsen family? Eh. Linden? Blah. Politics? Oh-my-god-so-boring. At this point in the season, we should be gaining momentum — not losing it. I mean, there are only five episodes left and everything that the show has set up so far isn’t paying off on an equal or greater level. Honestly, it’s not that surprising because, let’s be honest, the hardest part of storytelling is the payoff. But what frustrates me so much about The Killing is that not only is the story paying off in a boring manner, but the show is no longer what it started out to be. Imagine if Twin Peaks turned into CSI (okay, okay, it may not be that extreme, but damn if it doesn’t feel that way). This isn’t to say that shows can’t change their style or genre without success (see: Lost’s transformation to a sci-fi series). But, when you morph from an original storytelling perspective into just another crappy, boring cop show that’s been done a million times over — well, there’s just not much appealing about that.

“Sorry for any problems that I’ve caused.” -Linden

That said, The Killing isn’t all bad and — despite the flaws — still manages to be better than a lot of shows on television, so let’s talk about it. This week we didn’t have a tremendous amount of development in the Larsen murder case, but there was development nonetheless. If you remember, we left last week with Linden and Holder on the floor being seized by the FBI. Apparently, the anonymous tip received while investigating Muhammad led them to an organization with ties to terrorism. On top of that, we learn that the Larsen murder pictures have been leaked to the press (in pretty dramatic fashion, too: Rosie’s mother catching the reveal on the television and leaving her car running, with her boys in the backseat, in the garage) — but we’re not really sure who released the photos. The show wants us to believe that the responsibility falls on Holder. After all, he talks with a mysterious press-looking man outside of the police station — but if there’s anything The Killing taught us it’s that the answer that seems obvious is never the correct answer. After she breaks a few rules to get some federal evidence (Rosie’s shirt), Linden sees Holder having the conversation and follows him and learns that the mysterious press-looking fellow is not involved with the press at all but is, instead, Holder’s NA sponsor. After she feels bad for doubting him, she gets a call from a mother of one of Jack’s friends who tells her that Jack sent all of his friends the pictures of the murder and voila, the leak is revealed.

“Release the photos.” -Darren

Oh yeah, some political bullshit happened as well (which, by the way, is quickly becoming the most boring part of the show). Darren is getting murdered in the polls as the Larsen murder is now being connected to the terrorist organization (which, in turn, connects Darren to the terrorist organization). So after some soul-searching (which includes breaking a mirror in an oh-so-dramatic way), he decides to get dirty and release information his camp dug up regarding Adams and a mistress. Apparently, he paid $1500 a month to support a former intern/keep their relationship quiet. Meanwhile, in other dirty things, Bennet is connected to the terrorist organization, we’re just not quite sure yet how. Toward the end of the episode, we witness a phone-conversation of Bennet’s in Arabic (I think? I’m assuming. Please correct me if I’m wrong), breaking into English just so we can conveniently know that “the cops don’t know anything.” And because of the Holder’s wiretap — which he got while Linden dealt with the feds and political crap — the episode ends with Holder getting word of stuff happening on the wire. (Side note: All this talk of wire-taps has me wanting to re-watch The Wire. Anyway…).

The main problem with The Killing — or at least specifically, within “Stonewalled” — is that everything just kind of happens conveniently. Mitch happens to forget something before she takes her boys to school and the TV happens to be on so she learns that the photos leaked. The FBI evidence guy happens to leave the door wide open so Linden can sneak in when he leaves. Linden’s phone happens to go off while while she’s at Holder’s NA meeting. Bennet’s wife happens to see him talking on the phone about “passports” and “the cops not knowing enough,” with Bennet just happening to mention those things in English, and so on. When a story develops in this manner, it makes everything feel a little bit flat because there’s no urgency. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t care who Rosie’s murderer is. I just don’t. The show hasn’t given me enough of a reason to care, and with the way the story has developed, it’s basically just saying, “Hey, we’ll tell ya when we’ll tell ya and it’ll just all work out.” For a show driven by one murder, that doesn’t seem to be the best way, right? I mean, it’s a mystery show. There should be tons of speculation of whodunit. But there just isn’t. Everything just seems to be working out, so there’s no reason to care or worry that it won’t continue to work out.

But on top of that, when these moments just happen to come together, they’re often done in melodramatic and, to be frank, boring ways. For a prime example, look at Darren’s realization that he needs to play dirty. He punched a mirror while looking at it. Holy eye-roll moment. Suddenly, the show isn’t allowing itself to slowly develop — like earlier in the season. Now, every single decision feels hyped up, like the whole world rests on whatever the outcome is. Granted, a lot of these decisions are significant and do matter quite a bit within the context of the story, but there’s no room to breathe between each. Everything is over-the-top and melodramatic. And a story just can’t work that way. I’m not saying we need some comic relief or anything like that, but we need The Killing to stop taking itself so seriously because then it just turns into one big joke.