Film and TV

The Killing: "Undertow"

The scant number of episodes in a season on premium TV (10 or 13 or thereabouts) was often seen as an advantage over the two dozen or so we're subjected to on network television. With fewer shows, audiences are left wanting more from a series that otherwise might grow stale and increasingly repetitive over 20 or more installments.

And yet, it gives me no pleasure to report AMC's The Killing may represent a first: a short-run series almost as contrived as its major network brethren (not counting the C.S.I. franchise, of course).

It started out so promising, too. The first two episodes were as powerful as any I've seen, especially on a network not called HBO or Showtime. And for a while it looked like AMC was following up nicely on the excellence its finest show, Breaking Bad.

And just so we're clear, I'm not so enmeshed in traditional televised narrative that I have a problem with the glacial pace of the Killing's police investigation. Hell, the roadblocks and frustrations encountered by Linden and Holder remain the most compelling part of the show. You can even forgive inconsistent behavior in certain characters, especially when dealing with the trauma brought on by a grisly murder. But some stuff can't be chalked up to naiveté or grief, and that's when you've got trouble. Right there in the Emerald City.

After Holder's illegal wiretap, the cops would (finally) appear to have enough to pick up Bennett. But the warrant goes nowhere (there's the problem with that whole "illegal" thing). He's in deeper shit than he knows, however, because now his wife suspects him. She goes to talk to Linden and Holder, giving them Muhammed's number. Bennett, meanwhile, returns to class against the instructions of the school's principal.

That makes sense. After all, what possible harm could come from the prime suspect in the brutal murder of a student returning to school as if nothing had happened? Bennett had better hope his class walking out on him is the worst in store for him, but that seems unlikely after Mitch sees him going into the school.

Bennett's supposedly a smart guy, and it's obvious at this point he didn't kill Rosie, so what the hell is he doing? His wounded pride wouldn't let him lay low for a few weeks? Is he really so naïve as to think America doesn't convict folks in their own minds before a grand jury's even convened? Annoying.

Back in the political arena, Mayor Adams denies Richmond's allegations, though it becomes apparent he *is* paying the girl off and didn't have the snip-snip he says he had to prevent himself from having kids. And now Richmond says "the mudslinging is finished." One wonders how high up on his horse he could have climbed if the charges had stuck more easily. As it is, his awkward attempt at a smear loses him the support of the machinists, leading Gwen to advise him to talk about his dead wife for a campaign boost. Hey, it worked for Andrew Shepard. Richmond attempts to talk Drexler out of another $5 million, but he only agrees if the struggling candidate makes a basket. Oh, those wacky rich folk.

And just when you thought the Seattle PD never arrested anyone, they nab the mysterious Muhammed. My American self was beginning to despair we'd never see guns drawn again.

Linden and Holder interrogate him, offering appropriate threats to his family, of course. He confirms that Rosie came to Bennett's that night and left. Though all Muhammed and Bennett were apparently trying to do was protect a 12-year old girl from circumcision by her family. Again, why couldn't Bennett tell the cops this? Surely going down for trying to obtain a Canadian passport (snicker) would be better than getting set up for Murder One? Or worse.

Yes, worse. Mitch vents her frustration to Stan about both his and the police's lack of action, who does what any red-blooded father would do: scoops up Bennett and beats the holy fuck out of him (along with Belko). Only it turns out - oops - the Grand Canyon shirt they found in the locker room wasn't Rosie's at all. Now for all we know, Bennett's dead, and the cops are fresh out of suspects.

Still too many lingering questions, though: Why were Rosie's book's in Aunt Terry's car? Why was Belko so enthusiastic about the Bennett beat-down? And where did Richmond get such game?