'The k!lling' has abandoned the central device of most police procedurals -- we know they're not going to nab the bad guy before the end of the hour. But the removal of that requirement has created other demands on the show.
The gimmick of 'The k!lling' is that it is going to take an entire season to find the k!ller of Rosie Larsen. But before it gets to that big reveal, it has to keep viewers' interest with a series of cliffhangers. And strangely enough, the ending of Sunday's episode left me thinking about '24,' a show with a very different tone and pace.
Sarah Linden's personality is radically different from Jack Bauer's, but the two shows have one thing in common -- both '24' and 'The k!lling' have to give us "exciting" endings, to make sure we'll keep tuning in. The reveal at the butcher shop felt especially '24'-like, in that it involved FBI agents busting in to a place that had connections to possibly shady character from a mosque. Though it wouldn't have fit the world of 'The k!lling' at all, it would have mildly amused my weird sense of humor to see Jack Bauer demanding that Linden to tell him what she knows "now, damn it!"
In all seriousness, the FBI raid at the meat store felt like a bit of a misfire. Of course Linden and Holder will immediate show their badges and once they're revealed to be police officers, they'll be released and allowed to go about their business. It made for a dramatic moment when the agents busted in, but the "drama" of that moment was also a bit silly. This isn't a dangerous situation for the detectives, it's a simple misunderstanding, one that will be quickly cleared up.
In any event, I'm a bit wary of the idea that Rosie's k!lling might tie into some kind of federal investigation of those a.ssociated with the mosque. Putting all other concerns aside, it just feels like we've been down that storytelling road on many other shows, especially '24.' And to introduce some kind of possible terrorism thread at this late stage in the game would just seem odd and incongruous. (Still, if that transpires, in a perfect world, the analysts from 'Rubicon' would swoop in to shuffle papers and come up with the perfect theory of what transpired in Seattle.)
Seriously, let's hope the show doesn't take a hard turn into '24' territory. I'm sure there are many implications and connections when it comes to Rosie's death, but this is a show that is grounded in emotions and relationships. Nothing against 'NCIS,', but this show does not live in procedural-thriller territory, it's more thematically and atmospherically ambitious than that.
Whether it succeeds in its ambitions is still an open question; though this week's hour was more or less acceptable, I still don't think the show has lived up to its early promise. New Yorker critic Nancy Franklin makes some good points in her review; I'm not quite as negative about the show as she is, though I remain disappointed, as she is, that the characters aren't more interesting by this point. If you're going to jettison aspects of the typical procedural to focus on character, you really have to nail that aspect of the story, and so far the show is patchy in that regard.
Speaking of relationships, I love that Holder immediately figured out that something hinky was going on with Stan's employee, Belko. Belko slyly pocketed Bennet Ahmed's phone, he fed a bunch of sketchy information to Stan last week and this week, he also avoided all conversation with Holder, all of which makes Belko seem even more suspicious.
Here's my main question about Belko: Where's he getting his information? Does he really have a buddy at the school? How did he know about "the cage" in the school's basement? He certainly knows more than he should, and I'm wondering how he's finding all those things out. More shall be revealed on this front, no doubt.
I didn't really mind that Stan didn't k!ll Bennet, mainly because that would be a little too dark and Gothic for the world 'The k!lling' has established. And as Stan and his wife discussed, he's no longer the violent man he was in his past. He just didn't have it in him to k!ll the freaked-out teacher (though Stan undoubtedly enjoyed making Bennet very, very uncomfortable).
Stan isn't the man he used to be, and in general, 'Vengeance' found the rest of the characters trying, if only in rudimentary ways, to move forward with their lives. Mitch couldn't bring herself to sleep with her husband, but she seemed more alive than she did in recent days, and she was alert enough to fend off the pointed barbs of her mother. (Question: Was it ever explained why Mitch's parents weren't at Rosie's funeral? Or were they there and we just didn't see them?)
Even though Mitch and Stan have begun to climb out of the deepest part of the hole they'd been in, Mitch isn't discounting the idea of vengeance, as we saw from her vigil at the Ahmed house. And though he's trying to hang on through the last stage of his campaign, the mayor won't let Darren Richmond move past his ill-timed public embrace of Ahmed.
Apparently Richmond himself is still haunted by what happened to his own wife. Another question: Though we found out how she died (she was hit by a drunk driver), why won't Richmond forgive himself? What does he have to regret?
As critic Alan Sepinwall has said, I wish the show would just give up on the fiance stuff and acknowledge what is clearly true: That Linden won't leave Seattle until the case is wrapped up. There's no need to dwell on phone calls, plane tickets or trips to the airport. However the Linden-Holder stuff was generally good, which isn't surprising, given how good these actors are.
We did find out that Linden almost lost custody of her son, thanks to her workaholic tendencies, and that she shuts down whenever Regi questions her on her obvious ambivalence about leaving Seattle. Like many cops, Linden is willing and able to peer into the darkest corners of others' lives, but she'd prefer if her own heart and soul remain unexamined. Pointed questions are fine, as long as they're directed at other people, not her.
I just can't get enough of Joel Kinnaman's great performance as Holder; he's my favorite part of the show at this stage. He can be tough, as he was in the scene in which Holder reminds Linden that she's supposed to be gone and he's supposed to be leading the investigation. He can be goofy and playful, as when he shouted "Hey baby" to a passing stranger outside the meat store. Holder is just such a real, fully formed character that I'd enjoy more time spent on him. That's been a consistent frustration; the cast is clearly so capable and the actors have such range that the narrowness of the show's focus is sometimes a drawback.
In any event, like Linden, I'm in this until the end. Let's reconvene and do this again next week.
A few random notes:
• Though it didn't bug this week, I still don't need much of the political campaign story line, though it was kind of amusing when the mayor's commercial acted as the ultimate lovemaking buzzkill.
• Boy, it was convenient that a random stranger put a clue in Linden's shoe at the mosque, huh? As I said last week, the show isn't your usual procedural but it's not above giving its detectives extremely convenient clues, the kind that pervade more typical procedurals.
• It was kind of amusing that the final sequence of scenes was set at a butcher shop, with meat hooks hanging everywhere. It's the kind of location where typical TV detectives find grisly human remains. The show likes to use those kinds of misdirects, in which it plays with the expectations that we have been trained to have by other cop shows. But there were no bodies in this butcher's shop -- just a dozen FBI agents. Psych!