Film and TV

The Killing: "Orpheus Descending"

Stop, you're...killing me.

While it should be acknowledged that the creators of The Killing never explicitly told us they'd answer the season-long question of "Who killed Rosie Larsen?", the audience can hardly be blamed for expecting some resolution after a season's worth of red herrings and flimsy characterization. Keep expecting, because 13 episodes later, not only do we not know the identity of the Rosie's murderer, but developer Veena Sud also manages to jack us around further by ending with a cheap cliffhanger (does Belko shoot Richmond?) and a wholly nonsensical 180 on Joel Kinnaman's Holder, the most interesting character on the show.

Thank heaven there's another season coming to (maybe) resolve these issues.

When last we left our lead detective and prime suspect, Linden had just discovered emails to "Orpheus" on Richmond's computer. He tells her the story of the ancient Greek musician who went into the underworld to rescue his wife, with typically tragic Greek results. There's some tension as Linden slides past the councilman in the dark doorway, but he doesn't make a move, and she doesn't slap the cuffs on him. Okay.

Naturally they can't arrest him, because there's no direct tie between Richmond and "Orpheus," so Linden and Holder go back to check out the campaign car Rosie's body was in. Through some convoluted mileage calculus, they track down a remote gas station where somebody - perhaps Richmond - filled up the campaign car's tank the night of Rosie's murder. Rosie evidently was able to flee the car at that point, whereupon whoever killed her stalked her through the woods to Discovery Park (as seen in the pre-credits sequence of the series premiere).

Richmond seems pretty blasé for a guy allegedly guilty of murder and who seems to have been laying pipe with a bunch of doppelgangers for his dead wife ever since she passed away. One talks about Richmond's "grief" and "deep sadness." Nothing like a using that widower angle to score chicks. And he always has the best excuse for breaking it off: They just don't measure up to his deceased wife. Kudos, Councilman.

After Linden confronts a defiant Richmond (who refers to "things he's had to do," but denies killing Rosie). Gwen informs Linden that Richmond left her the night of Rosie's murder and returned "soaking wet." Then she gives Linden the footage of Richmond meeting Rosie. How convenient.

On the Larsen family front, Aunt Terry bails Stan out, but Mitch is still unable to cope with their daughter's death and elects to leave. The inability to move on negatively impacting their sons, or something.

Finally, Holder secures a toll booth photo of Richmond in the campaign car the night of Rosie's murder. The arrest him at a campaign rally, and Linden finally boards a plane with Jack for sunny Sonoma. End season.

But wait! The toll booth cameras haven't worked in months! Holder's in cahoots with...somebody! And here comes Belko with a gun! Look out Councilman!

In all honesty, I don't have a problem if a show uses multi-season story arcs or gradually teases out its characters. My problem is with employing red herrings so much they lose any dramatic effect they may once have had and ham-handedly reversing positions on the sole character you've actually developed beyond a one-note portrayal. If Holder's been in on it this whole time, why was he so apparently surprised to learn Richmond was connected to Orpheus last week (by himself at a payphone)? If he's got such good detective instincts, how could he possibly think phony pictures presented as evidence in a MURDER INVESTIGATION would stand up to scrutiny?

If I recall correctly, both TNT and Sud said at different points the murder would be solved by season's end, so unless this one of those mealy-mouthed diversions ("Hey, all the clues are right there for you to figure it on on your own!"), then they've misled the audience for cheap gimmickry. Who killed Rosie Larsen? Does anybody still care at this point?

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar