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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Killing: "What You Have Left"

Illustration for article titled The Killing: "What You Have Left"
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I am happy to report that, after last week’s listless installment, The Killing has once again returned to my good graces. (I know you were all worried.) Tonight’s episode was the liveliest and most engaging one since the pilot; it was also the least rainy. Could this possibly be a coincidence?

We’re in week three of Bennet’s tenure as the show’s prime suspect, and he’s looking guiltier by the minute. After a neighbor reports seeing a young girl at Bennet’s door late on Friday night, Holder and Linden make a house call. Bennet suddenly remembers that Rosie came by after the dance to drop off a book, though he can’t remember which one. Another neighbor tells Linden he saw Bennet and “another smallish type person” carrying Rosie out of the house, wrapped in a blanket. Could the “smallish type person” have been Amber, who’s due to give birth any day? This seems far-fetched, that is, until we see Amber, crouched in a dark corner of her apartment, clutching a hammer.

Things are not looking great for Bennet, but as we all know, there’s virtually no chance he did it. Murder mysteries are an odd thing. Like romantic comedies and horror movies, they’re subject to a set of genre rules that make them both satisfying and predictable. These rules dictate that there’s almost no chance Bennet is the killer, unless The Killing has a “double bluff” in the works. I’m going to assume he’s not, so the key will be making his backstory rich enough to sustain our interest until the real killer emerges. I’m increasingly intrigued by Bennet, whose “sensitive guy” act seems to belie his true weasely nature. I hope that Stan doesn’t wack him before we are able to learn more.

It turns out that Stan is not the only one who wants to wring Bennet’s neck. Amber’s in-laws are not exactly crazy about the guy, but they’re apparently gearing up for a race war, so it’s hard to know if their dislike is entirely justified. Speaking of which, Holder’s scene with Amber’s sister was kind of fantastic. I love how he bonded with her over his love of Jesus—“Mine doesn’t come off,” he says, pointing to his crucifix neck tat—then had to nervously pretend to agree with her racist, paranoid proclamations. Holder’s a complete weirdo, and I’m still not sure his various tics add up to a cohesive character, but he’s far and away the most interesting person on this show.

Bennet’s suspicious involvement with Rosie’s murder is bad news for Darren, who’s gearing up for a televised debate with Mayor Adams. In an ironic twist, Bennet is featured front and center in the campaign’s new commercials, which tout Darren’s anti-crime initiatives. Darren’s only viable choice is to pull the ads from the air, but he’s reluctant to distance himself too hastily. Jamie, frustrated by his boss’s idealism, sums up Darren’s tarnished public image with five words: “Dead girl in a trunk.” To me Darren’s high-mindedness seems a tad unrealistic, especially since we’ve already seen the guy in sleazy politician mode.

Plus, as far as campaign tactics go, shelving a potentially embarrassing ad seems like a prudent move, not a reactionary one. Then again, it’s not clear how, exactly, Jamie would like Darren to distance himself from Bennet. Pulling an ad is one thing; publicly denouncing them is another. In any case, we’re meant to believe that Darren is a good guy, that he’s reluctant to declare anyone guilty prematurely, but I wonder if this can be his only motive. Is it really that he “doesn’t know how to win,” as Senator Eaton put it, or is there something more sinister going on here?


Darren’s scruples end up backfiring when, in their debate, Mayor Adams reveals that Bennet is a suspect in Rosie’s murder. Let’s not forget, it’s been all of about 24 hours since Bennet even became a “person of interest” in the investigation. I’m not an expert, but it seems to me it would be an unconscionable breach of protocol—if not a punishable offense—for a candidate to release information about a police investigation to the public. This was the only moment in the episode that rang false to me.

Funerals are hardly upbeat occasions, but it was frankly a bit of a relief to see the Larsens leave their house for once. Odd, though, that we didn’t actually see much of the service itself. It wasn’t until the gathering afterward that things got interesting. Mitch’s woozy sister Terry has a strange encounter with Michael Ames, whom you might recall as Jasper’s gazillionaire dad, and he bolts from the reception as quickly as he can. I’m guessing these two had some sort of affair, but it’s really anyone’s guess. All that matters is Terry is unstable—a la Jennifer Jason Leigh in lots of movies—and I’m into it. We also learn, via Holder’s mysterious bald friend (more on him below), that Stan was a “strong man” for Polish gangster Janek Kovarsky, that he once had a gambling problem, and that he may have offed some of Kovarsky’s enemies. This does not bode well for Bennet who, as the episode winds to a close, is being driven to parts unknown in Stan’s car.


Now, I'm wondering if with these recaps, I shouldn't perhaps include my very own version of AMC's "Suspect Tracker." I'll call it the guilt-o-meter. So here goes:

Guilty: Terry

Guiltier: Amber

Guiltiest: Darren

Stray observations/additional questions:

  • Whose call did Darren ignore when he was talking to Linden?
  • “You look like you donate plasma for a living.” Classic!
  • We’ve all spent a lot of time comparing this show to Twin Peaks, but this week’s opening sequence reminded me of a different show about death: Six Feet Under.
  • There were some nice, creepy little touches in this episode, like Rosie’s little brother squashing a millipede (or was it a centipede?) at the cemetery, and the acrylic nails applied to Rosie’s mangled fingers.
  • Linden’s scenes with Bennet’s neighbors had a distinctly Law & Order vibe, especially the guy bragging about his vision. “Excellent eyes, me. My whole family good eyes.” Reminded me of this.
  • The identity of the bald guy in the car remains pretty baffling, though we can probably rule him out as Holder’s drug dealer. In one scene, Holder talks to him as if he’s some kind of AA sponsor then sounds more like a cop. Maybe he’s both?
  • Regi drops yet another hint about Linden’s past: “You almost lost him, Sarah. Don’t let it happen again.” She’s talking about Jack, but I’m wondering what “almost losing him” means.