The Killing Recap: Butterfly Effect

Photo: Carole Segal/AMC

This week on The Killing, we meet Rosie Larsen’s real father, David Ranier, and he seems to be pretty great. He’s handsome. He lives in one of those TV houses whose kitchens make you crave breakfast. He’s as natural at navigating the fickle moods of teenagers as he is at working a French press. And yet, we’re told that sixteen years before, Mitch chose Stan over him. Okay, let’s try to break this down. On one hand, I do understand the attraction. Mitch was a young, mosh-pitting, Free Willin’ Soundgarden fan who, like her budding lepidopterist daughter, craved adventure and stimuli, and Stan was a bad-boy mobster. I can totally see them hooking up.

But the way the show has depicted it is that Mitch broke it off with Stan for a bit, hooked up with David, got pregnant, and then opted to have Stan raise her child instead, presumably because he seemed more of the fathering type. Before we met David, I was picturing someone like Jasper’s dad or maybe even Jasper himself, someone who was rich and mean and selfish and who would’ve sneered Mitch out of the state at the first mention of a baby. I definitely wasn’t imagining the guy we met, whom I would want to be my own dad if I weren’t a living person and he weren’t a fake character.

I feel the same way about Jack’s dad, who spent ten years neglecting him only to resurface. Now, this does happen and Linden’s pride surely gets in the way when it comes to her asking for help, but it still doesn’t explain why that guy stayed away for as long he did. He clearly is very good at not only booking his flights, but also getting on them. I’d say that one could make an argument (and I’m sure some of you will) that this show is all about giving us complicated protagonists and making us question why we like them, and it might, in theory, be. The way it’s delivering this conflict to us, though, is just so black and white. It’s impossible for us to be on Linden’s side, at this point, when it comes to Jack. She aggressively neglected him all season and then finally did the right thing by shipping him off to his father. I hope she/we never see him again, for his/our sake. I could’ve digested that story line a lot easier if we hadn’t been introduced to another perfect dad this week, who seems traced right off a CW show that one of the writers was probably watching as a way of procrastinating writing her script for this one. (Or at the very least, it was on as background noise.)

With this show, it’s like everything is always a little out of sync. No one is reacting quite appropriately to anything and nothing matches up with your expectations, but not in an interesting way. A mayoral candidate gets unjustly shot and paralyzed and the voters don’t give him their sympathy. A mom is afraid to tell her ex-boyfriend about the child that is his and then he turns out to already know and also be okay with it. Dad slugs his little, traumatized son (I was waiting for that slap to happen because I’ve seen television and movies before, in my lifetime, and that slap always comes, but I was shocked by how violent it was, how much more it edged toward the territory of a punch) and tells him he hates him and then all is forgiven by nighttime. Mom who abandoned the family calls to check in and dad tells her he has to go instead of saying, “Oh my God, just come home already, you are acting like a crazy person.”

Perhaps the weirdest lack of matching response was when Gwen tried to blackmail Mayor Lesley Adams by bringing up what sounded to me like the time he raped her when she was 14. She threatens to tell her senator dad, Charles Widmore, about it, but when Adams then answers that her dad already knows, she’s all, “Oh snap. Really?” And then she just drops it, her leverage gone. Because that’s not the kind of information that the public might be interested in hearing about or anything. Or the police. Hell, she could at least tell tech guy Ray about it. He’d know what to do.

Then again, Ray might call Linden and Holder, and that takes up half an episode and so maybe it is best that Gwen sit on it. The two of them are on the search for Rosie’s confiscated casino key. Holder calls his “connections” at county at eight o’clock at night, when they’re closed, and tells them that morning will be too late. And then they tell him, “Too bad, sucker” and he goes to sleep in his house and Linden goes to sleep in her car and then it’s morning and it’s not too late.

They go to the house of Holder’s ex-sponsor turned nemesis, Gil, and we see that that guy has become the new Rosie Larsen of this show. Because he was such a blank nothing character to begin with, any new plot development that they decide to think up they can just fold into his story line. This week, he’s a hoarder … that’s why his ex-wife left him … obviously. This is revealed in such a painfully inefficient way. Sometimes watching this show feels like playing Pac Man, where you’re confined to this space and your only task is to just gobble up as many minutes as you can. Linden steals what looks at first glance like an iPad from Gil’s car and the audience oooooooh’s at all the shiny lights. Then we realize it’s a GPS unit and then we’re just impressed by how easily Linden figures it out. This is like way advanced for her. They drive to the last place Gil went, which is a gyro place that I thought meant a mob-connection thing. Instead, it’s where Gil’s storage unit is, filled with every item in his life, which Holder doesn’t remember about until they’re there. Wouldn’t that have been the first place he would’ve thought of when they were trying to brainstorm places where Gil might have stashed the key? I’ve come to terms with Linden not being the best cop, but I really hate when I see it happening with Holder. I need something to hold onto.

They find the key, drive to the casino, exchange some mumbling “you’re my best friend, no you’re my best friend” talk along the way (to which I say, Dear Killing, too little and too late with that stuff). The maid is supposed to let them in, but apparently someone higher up issued a Jerry Maguire–style mission statement about how young people will never be seen on this show again (Rod and Tod don’t count). Linden goes inside while Holder recuperates with his broken ribs in the car. Then Walking Dead’s Hershel pops out of the glove compartment and sprinkles some sawdust into Holder’s wound so that he’s able to go have his partner’s back (I’m actually just giving the show a hard time here; I love watching Holder be a badass and I’ve always been into how protective of Linden he is).

Linden sticks that key into the elevator and makes it up to the tenth floor, where the construction site is. Holder’s back in his car and she gives him dispatches via her cell phone. She finds the generator that Ray identified. It’s turned off and she turns it on to make sure the sound matches. Whew, one mystery solved there. Then she finds the sliding door that he isolated, too. All the pieces are just falling into place. Linden steps through the door onto the deck, takes in the view, and instantly pieces together that Rosie was leaving her home forever (mostly based on Holder’s butterfly book and the fact that Rosie had a spare pair of underwear in her backpack). And then she says a sentence that would’ve made so many people who were invested in this show furious last season but probably won’t now since they have stopped watching or caring, “She came here to say good-bye.”

That’s why Rosie Larsen died. Because she decided to be a character from those heist movies who says, “One last job and then I’m done.” In Rosie’s case, that last job was her taking a late-night ferry to the Indian casino where she secretly worked as a maid in order to save up money to run away to California to watch the butterflies, but before she did that, she just had to take in her city one last time, from the dusty, dark, chilly construction site where she occasionally snuck a cigarette in between shifts and where some-guy-she-once-went on-a-date-with’s father also sometimes held illicit meetings. Which means that it officially doesn’t matter who killed Rosie Larsen anymore. Because, like they say, the journey getting there is the most important part and forget the shark, this show just jumped off the ledge.

The Killing Recap: Butterfly Effect