The Killing Recap: The Timely Cell-Phone Ring

Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) - The Killing - Season 2, Episode 5.
Photo: Carole Segal/AMC

Honestly, at this point with this show, I’m just trying to understand basic logistics. I can’t even tell whether the clean structure of its initial premise (each episode takes place over the course of one gray, rainy day and night) is still in place. Last night’s episode spanned more than 24 hours if we’re going by the mumbo jumbo police explanation that Linden’s new boss, Duck, gave for why they had to let their No. 1 suspect go.

One of the things I liked about last season, at least in the beginning, was that Holder and Linden always had a clear agenda for their day. As forced as the Linden moving to Sonoma plot was, it at least helped lend a sense of urgency to every hour. She always had a full to-do list’s worth of tasks to accomplish — interview dead-end suspect, tune out the sexual tension between her and her smoldering partner, neglect son — before she was allowed to miss her plane. Now that that story line has been abandoned (along with Linden and Jack and Alexi and Terry and Rod and Tod and Richmond and that new runaway girl because that was clearly the theme of last night’s episode), the character’s game plan is just completely out of whack. It also doesn’t help that the police force seems annoyed that Holder and Linden continue to insist on working this case. Maybe that’s because when they hired Holder it was to replace Linden and so now they have to pay twice the salaries than originally intended? How exactly does that work anyway? There’s just this pervasive sense of no one being in charge of these two anymore and it’s running in parallel with the feeling that not that many people on the other side of the television screen are watching them either.

For example, what time would you say that Linden and Holder roll into work these days? Last night it felt like they had both rolled into the station around noon at the earliest. That’s the only thing that would explain why they ran out of time asking their main suspect the one question they had for him: “What was the deal with you and that chick Rosie Larsen?” There is no reason why we had to wait for the final minute of this episode to hear the news that this show has officially become a soap opera in the form of Stan not being Rosie’s real father. Oh, and also so we could see him get praised by Linden, one foster kid to another, for identifying the car Rosie was afraid of seeing as the same nondescript vehicle used by every car service in Brooklyn.

Adding to the chaos is the fact that this show is becoming as dependent on one particularly ridiculous device as Linden is on her Nicorette. The interrupting cell-phone ring has gone from being a funny contrivance to a main character. When Terry and Stan shared their icky kiss (I was sort of into her face, right before, in that scene), it only took the sound of a ringing cell phone for them to stop. No one answered the phone or checked who was calling when the other person was in the room. They just heard the ring/cue for all manufactured transitions on this show and redirected what they were doing, Manchurian Candidate–style. I’m assuming that whomever that private caller was is also the same person whose car she got into while reenacting the “this thing corners like it’s on rails” scene from Pretty Woman at the end. I’m also assuming it’s going to take at least two episodes until we get to the shopping montage, which is really the best part.

I’ve always thought that the whole “zoom in on that license plate” thing was the silliest of all cop show moves, but The Killing might have taken the form to a new level last night when it had its tech guy (still the only person capable of doing his or her job well) identify the sound of a sliding door closing in the background of a call Rosie made on her cell that can’t be submitted to evidence for some reason that I didn’t catch. He also says something about a generator, which made me smile not because what is with AMC and its mysterious generators? On Walking Dead, the farm was being powered by a generator that we never heard and now on The Killing the casino generators are loud enough to be picked up on a cell-phone call. Can this be some sort of Freaky Friday deal, where the two shows switch places and wacky shenanigans ensue?

That would certainly go a long way toward explaining the zombie story happening in Richmond’s hospital room. We are now on day five of watching him feel sorry for himself about not being able to walk while never once asking his doctor how it is he’s able to be so healthy in all other regards, considering he just suffered a massive gunshot wound. Because this episode is all about building dolls out of dried cornhusks to represent people who have abandoned our existing characters, Richmond has a moment outside with a woman whose sole purpose of being in this episode is to say, “It took nothing to be here. You just show up” so that he can feel sad about the sister who still hasn’t shown up to see him. No one has shown up to see him, in fact, despite his having been the front-runner for the senate five days before. I did a lot of smiling over how messy Richmond’s hair was in this episode, convinced Veena Sud had mussed it up herself while thinking, Nothing screams throwing in the towel like some bedhead. Jamie finally convinces Richmond to resume his campaign, which in the real Seattle would be an awful idea since Richmond, as his hair clearly indicates, is a self-pitying baby who cracks swiftly under pressure, but in the fictional one it makes sense, since it is populated solely with people (with the exception of that tech guy) who are terrible at their jobs.

I know I haven’t talked at all about what’s happening with Mitch, but that’s because what am I supposed to do with that? A runaway girl with a pierced septum singing pop songs into her spoon while Mitch fake laughed and clapped her hands was so far away from the original conceit of this show that I feel like it should just be discarded, like those little bags of plastic anchors that you’re always left with after you’ve finished putting an Ikea bookshelf together. I think that the girl got into a similar town car as the one Alexi described to Linden and also the one that Terry got into, but that would be crazy because isn’t Mitch, like, in a different state right now? And if that car the girl got into didn’t have anything to do with those other cars, you can’t get upset with me for thinking they did, since again, we are talking about some of the most nondescript cars of all time, which also happen to be our current most major clue.

While we are on the subject of geography, however, and where everyone else is in relationship to everyone else … Linden’s ex, Jack’s dad, he lives in Chicago, right? Didn’t Jack go visit him at some point, after Linden told the dad that he could never go near Jack again? I remember finding this contradictory at the time, but now I have another theory entirely: Fight Club. That’s what’s happening with that dad story. He doesn’t exist. He and Linden are the same person. She’s talking to an empty chair and then she’s sitting in that empty chair and tilting her head up slightly so that she looks like she is talking to someone who is standing in front of her. Otherwise, how is it that the dad, who was such a deadbeat that he wasn’t around for Jack’s first ten years of life, is now flying in and out of Seattle whenever his son, who appears to be unconscious, calls him up? I mean, if this show has taught us anything it’s that Seattle’s citizens do not care about paying airfare change fees, but does that belief system apply to their non-residential, non-blood relatives as well? 

In the episode’s final moments, Alexi says that he never knew a girl like Rosie who had so many secrets. I say that I never knew a girl like Rosie who had worse taste in the people she surrounded herself with. No one in her life — not her parents, her boyfriend, or her best friends — seemed to have ever asked her the most simple of questions. Why Alexi didn’t press her about why she was hanging out at an Indian casino every night will forever be a mystery. Because of what I’m going to chalk up to his poor listening skills, we will now have to watch as Linden and Holder slowly arrange his disjointed answers into a conclusive theory, instead of just solving the murder in the next episode. I’d much rather watch them hanging out at Linden’s hotel room, watching a movie with Jack, brushing their hands together in the popcorn bowl, as she periodically excuses herself to go yell at her ex in the bathroom.

The Killing Recap: The Timely Cell-Phone Ring