TV Update: The Killing (Spoilers)

by Jonah Goldberg

Despite some significant flaws, I really loved the first season of AMC’s “The Killing”. The second season has been a bit of a mess, I think, because of the need to play out the same murder investigation for whole new season. I still really enjoy it, and the last few episodes have been pretty engaging. Some observations:


The Good!

  I particularly like the UN-PC development that the Native Americans are shaping up not just as bad guys — bad news for Elizabeth Warren!  — but as casino-bilking frauds.

Stephen Holder (played by Joel Kinnaman) is one of the most authentic characters in a drama in years. He’s manages to play a white trashy-thug life drug addict while at the same time being humane and likable. That’s tough.

The Bad!

Absurd narrative time compression! Because the series takes place during a remarkably short amount of time — I think it’s been three weeks since Rosie Larsen’s murder — it’s easy to accept some pretty miraculous developments, so long as you don’t think about them.   Consider, for instance, Darren Richmond’s season 2 arc so far. Contrary to widespread misconceptions, I’m no spinal neurosurgeon guy, but Richmond rebound from a crippling gunshot wound in a matter of days strikes me as awfully implausible.  In just a few days, Richmond was shot, almost died, then miraculously recovered only to learn he was paralyzed for life from the waist down, went into a spiral of depression, came out of it and is now running all-out for mayor again. During this time, his old semi-girlfriend quit the race in a huff, moved to Washington, DC and then moved back to rejoin the campaign.

By the way, for a guy running for Mayor, he seems to talk about his schedule and appearances a lot, while never leaving his office.


The Ugly

It is hard to think of a show that spotlights really bad mothers more (or to be more fair, bad mothering). Sarah Linden (compellingly played by Mireille Enos)  was sympathetic for a while as the obsessed cop who doesn’t want to give up on being a mom. But eventually, it just became infuriating the way she was treating her own son like an inconvenient load of laundry, dragged from one hotel to another. She eventually did the right thing in sending him to his father, but it went way too far before she finally caved in.

Oddly the same goes for Mitch Larsen (Michelle Forbes). What the hell? Look I certainly get the idea of a mom flipping out when her daughter is murdered. I can even see her needing some alone time, despite having two young boys to take care of. But this is an area where the time compression thing is a real problem. It feels like Mitch (I thought it was “Midge,” too, until I looked it up for this post) has been gone forever while her two sons are in agony. I don’t know why her husband Stan doesn’t tell her that her sons are unraveling and need their mother, but it’s just painful to watch her go on her self-indulgent trek of personal discovery while her surviving children fall apart. Moreover, I don’t really find it all that plausible. If Rosy were an only child, I could see Mitch disappearing forever to cope with her grief. But do mothers really do that when they have kids at home they still need to take care of? I’m sure some do. But Mitch doesn’t seem like that kind of woman to me. Or at least, her portrayal of that kind of woman feels forced. They needed her to go off on her quest to expand the storyline, not because it was in her nature.

Anyway, I still like the show. But I’m beginning to think they should have solved the Larsen murder already and moved on.

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