The Killing – Missing
And with that AMC delivers their second Suitcase, though obviously the quality has been scaled down to fit within the confines of The Killing, it is comparable only comparatively to that most glorious of moments. Yes it was 42 minutes of the male lead with a mysterious past and the progressively empowered female lead talking in and while driving to a number of otherwise uninteresting locations and yes that should be a waste of time, especially coming as it does two episodes before the all important final reveal, but instead it gave us exactly what the show needed, character.
At this stage it’s kind of too late to salvage the show purely on terms of plot, there is no murderer satisfying enough to undo all these weeks of faux-killer filler, no twist or conspiracy alone inventive enough to have made all this time worth spending, but if we care about what happens to these characters over the final few episodes, if we want Linden to find the killer so that she can finally be at peace in Senoma then the show will have salvaged itself and this is the best and biggest step in that direction the show has taken yet. Admittedly none of the beats were all that deep or refreshing – and normally I’d argue that you have to at least aim for one or the other, because why bother telling an old story in such a simple way? You’re not going to best the founders – but they were interesting enough, and though the show eventually pulled it’s punch with the ending, the journey chiseled out enough of a foothold on these characters that we should now be able to hold on for the final part of the ride.
The dialogue delivering this development was a little harder to judge, Holder (such a perfect name for an Addict) definitely has a distinctive voice but I’m never sure to what extent it is a send-up, or by whom. If he speaks like this because of his time spent training for / on the streets as an undercover operative and it simply stuck with him, becoming too ingrained like his drug use did, then it is a nice touch. If however this is Veena Sud attempting to write a ‘street’ character, a down and dirty coppa, then there is a definite issue: It’s fine to say ‘moms’ a few times, but that many is questionable, and ‘Aint no thang’ is a line a White guy just can’t deliver with a straight face. Any issue I had with that (and it isn’t so much an issue, just a niggling) was more than made up for by the very authentic sounding – if still a little cliche ridden – answering machine pleas he made to the family that has ostracized him and the clever lines that they gave him in regards to these issues of family and fatherhood (which also nicely paralleled what is happening to the Larson clan, as the crime-scene scene did that moment in the pilot; both were powerful juxtapositions).
So while this episode still wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, it was the first time in many weeks where the show felt like it had earned that little square signature in the bottom right corner, that it had earned to be listed among AMC’s other stalwarts; though I have to wonder is it too little too late?
Rambling Post-Script: Given the self contained nature of the episode it could have played at nearly any stage during the shows run – though yes there were some topical references made in the conversations and a lot of the episode played off character pair dynamics that had been built-up slowly throughout the season, but it would have been a small fix – and had it been the third episode or the sixth, the show would probably have been all the better for it. By culling the cast so heavily for the ep they really allowed these two characters to shine in a way that the show hasn’t … ever and given how well it worked I also have to wonder, would this not have been a better structure? A cop centric episode followed by a family-centric episode followed by a Politic-centric etc. , or for that matter the good old LOST plan of single character eps. The focus of this weeks episode really highlighted how much of a lack has been present in the rest of the show, especially the middle of its run, and this approach would probably have solved a lot of those issues, but I guess it’s easy (and actually relevant) to be an Armchair Showrunner.