One of the strange contradictions of The Killing is its willingness to introduce new characters on a weekly basis without then taking the time distinguish these characters from the ones who came before them.
This week’s episode ends with the appearance of a shady man in a car, outside of Holder’s apartment, where Linden and Jack have sought refuge. He might be Rosie Larson’s real dad, Daniel Ranier. He might be a cog in some government conspiracy plot to stop Richmond from becoming mayor. He might be the ghost of Rod or Tod’s Christmas future who’s come back to tell them to run away, don’t even pack your aunt’s crystal wineglass or Rosie’s music box, just go! The only two things we can really be sure of are: (1) since it’s still too early in the season, he’s not Rosie’s killer and (2) once we do get to know him, it won’t make much of difference, since he’ll be written the same way as every other suspect we’ve been introduced to so far.
It’s so hard not to think of shows like Lost or Twin Peaks while watching The Killing. Even when they ultimately lost their way, plot-wise, those shows never used their bit characters merely as placeholders. With The Killing, we are now nearly halfway through this season, and I feel like I’m watching a board with rows of blank index cards pinned on it, waiting to be filled in. If the show is going to decide to go with, oh, I don’t know, a totally absurd runaway teen story line, then it should at least try to make the scenes with that teen have some life. Instead we are stuck having to watch scenes where an awkward twirl is supposed to signify that this girl is a ballerina. Or the slow folding of a T-shirt is supposed to convey to us that a mother misses her dead daughter, even though she has so thoroughly gotten past abandoning her two sons that she’s able to just lounge on her motel room bed and settle into a good paperback. Poor Michelle Forbes. Do you think when she checks her e-mail in the morning (like we all do) and sees the word “stricken” all over her scripts (because that’s how the TV business works), she just rolls over and goes back to sleep for ten hours, just like Mitch?
One last thing about this story line: Was the runaway girl making a play on Mitch in the bed? I rewound and rewound and rewound and that definitely seems like what was happening. The old “playing with his sweater and then finger-walking over to her hand” move. And if that was what was happening, WHAT??? Where did that come from? That makes no sense at all unless The Killing now has an official policy of turning all its young female characters into prostitutes, because you know how teenagers are.
Elsewhere in the episode, Richmond is officially back on track. He’s been discharged from the hospital, a wine cork stuck into his bullet wound so that it doesn’t get all oozy while he’s on the campaign trail. The election is not too far away. For some reason, he’s still having to convince people to vote for him even though he was dominating the polls seven days ago and you’d think getting shot would only generate more sympathy votes. But no, the show has decided to convince us that he’s lagging and not even Jamie’s grandfather story can get his numbers up. The only one who can help is Gwen, whom Richmond takes the whole episode agreeing to bring back on. Whew, because I was really worried for a second there that he wouldn’t do that.
The Red Herring Alexi led Holder and Linden to his cousin, Red Herring Jasper’s dad. As convinced as I am that the kid who plays Jasper is a real-life Richie Rich–style billionaire who got that snarl permanently tattooed on his face so that he wouldn’t have to work that hard at the one job he’s ever had, at least he lends some energy to this show and I’d be fine with seeing more of him. It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t appear to have ever met Rosie Larson before, let alone have dated her. This whole “Rosie was so innocent” thing has to stop because by this point her schedule was so jam-packed with sketchy activities that I don’t know how she found the time to record that three-second video we saw of her last season.
Linden and Holder drag Jasper’s Dad in for questioning, which gets them nowhere. He bought a Twix bar on the ferry back from the casino. No one with such a sweet tooth could’ve hurt a fly. But wait, there are a few unaccounted for hours between the time the ferry docked and he arrived home. Too bad Holder and Linden can’t ask him more questions about the time discrepancy for nonsense reasons that Duck from Mad Men has just made up. I am aware that if you really felt like it, you, the viewer, could find ways to prop up and justify these reasons, but it doesn’t really matter since the show is still taking the easy way out by finding reasons to obstruct the investigation instead of using a little elbow grease and coming up with creative, solid twists and turns forward.
So Holder and Linden think Jasper’s Dad was still involved with Rosie’s murder somehow. They crash a party at the Ames house. They grill Jasper’s Mom, also known as Jasper’s Dad’s Wife, who tells them the two have an arrangement and that there’s no way Jasper’s Dad was also Rosie’s Dad. The casino chief is at the party, which points mightily in the government contract conspiracy plot direction, which makes me almost sleepy enough to crawl into bed beside a sad, sopping-sweatered grieving mother whom I don’t know.
The new trail that we’re on now is that of finding out about Rosie Larson’s father. For some reason, Stan never asked who he was and so he’s no help. Alexi had his upper arms filled with getting tattoos symbolizing the avenging of his father, which he totally planned on doing until he met a girl who liked to ride bikes with him. Fine, I buy that, but still, he should’ve at least gotten a tattoo of her face on his other arm if she was that important to him. That way it would’ve been like in those cartoons with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. That would’ve been cool. Jasper or any of Rosie’s other friends can’t help because they only met her once, at the mall, in sixth grade. The only whiff of a clue we can hang any hope on is the letter that Mitch wrote to him when she was two months pregnant with Rosie. You know the one that begins, “I’m writing to tell you I’m two months pregnant” and ends with “I know it’s yours.” The one she apparently never sent but still enjoys reading to herself.
The term red herring originated from a training method given to hounds who were learning to hunt. Puppies were trained to follow the fainter scent of a fox or a badger as opposed to the stronger scent of the red herring. The whole point was to show the dogs how to stay on their original course, without wasting time on stinkier ones. Oh, The Killing, if only you could take a moment to read the Wikipedia entry that I just pulled that from and find your way back to your original course, too. I’d start with getting Mitch out of that motel room, even if she needs to borrow Richmond’s wheelchair to do so.