Here's the thing. I read this interview with "Killing" show-runner Veena Sud over at Hitfix, and I mostly agree with her that telling season-long story lines is just as formulaic as telling episode-long story lines. And I can see a version of "The Killing" in which stretching out the story of who killed Rosie Larsen for multiple seasons could be a terrific way to tease out character development, plot twists and all manner of other good stuff. So I'm not inherently opposed to the idea that we don't find out who Rosie's killer is in Sunday night's episode, which, indeed, we end with a cliffhanger.
Despite all the advertisements showcasing large black-and-white photos of her large, dark eyes and a coy smirk under a suggestively scrawled red headline daring the audience to guess “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?,” it usually takes a while before Katie Findlay, the actress who plays the murder victim of “The Killing,” is recognized.
“They stare at me for a while across the bus and are suddenly like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” Findlay said.
“Dead girl?,” she’ll respond.
The AMC procedural drama, which has its season finale on Sunday, stars Mireille Enos as a Seattle police officer determined to find out who sent a seemingly innocent, normal girl to her watery grave. But before this case is (possibly?) solved, Show Tracker chats with Findlay about what it’s like to play the “dead girl.”
So, we’ve reached the last episode of the season. Do you even know who killed you? How long into filming was it before they told you who killed Rosie Larsen?
Everybody had their theories they were bouncing around set.... AMC has been really good about having us run around like chickens with our head cut off. I had some ideas but they ruined them all in the last episode. I thought it was Terry, my mom’s sister, (Jamie Anne Allman), except then we started seeing more of her.
How much did you know about the part going into it?
I actually had no idea. I had no clue. I was told there’s a pilot and the part’s kinda fun. The audition was so strange. I was running through the “woods” screaming and being chased. I had all these things I had to do, but I was doing them in a postage stamp room.
Based on a hit Danish series, "The Killing" has scored high ratings by AMC's standards. The premiere back in April averaged 2.7 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co. More recently, it has settled down to the 2 million or so mark. The series is overseen by executive producer Veena Sud, formerly of CBS' procedural "Cold Case." The network ordered 13 episodes for the second season; the first season wraps on Sunday.
The producers "have shown us how much room there is to elevate the crime drama with this series," AMC senior vice president Joel Stillerman said in a statement. "A lot of loyal fans made a huge investment in this show this season, and we are thrilled to be able to bring it back next season for all involved."
Trackers, what do you think of "The Killing"?
-- Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)
Photo: Brent Sexton, Michelle Forbes, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman in the first episode of "The Killing." Credit: Carole Segal / AMC
I’ll say this for “Beau Soleil,” the latest episode of “The Killing”: That final sequence was terrifically tense. Linden’s dropped by Darren Richmond’s place (y’know, just to chat), when she fields a call from a guy back at the station. He’s sending an email to Orpheus, the mysterious guy who creeped out one of the girls who worked at the escort service in the episode’s title. She asks him to send it again… and then she hears the sound of a computer somewhere in the Richmond house receiving an email. Again. The same sound. Again. The same sound. It’s not a coincidence. The emails are being received from inside the house!
I'm of two minds about "Missing," the latest episode of "The Killing." One part of me wants to say it's the best episode of the show yet, an episode in which the constant stupid plotting and lack of character development get out of the way for an hour that's just two people, trapped in small spaces together, talking out their differences. Another part of me says that "Missing" is the ultimate example of just how bad this show has become. Sure, it was good, but to throw an episode like this into the middle of a MURDER MYSTERY with but THREE EPISODES TO GO? That’s a monumentally stupid idea, no matter how good the episode, and it stopped dead whatever minor momentum the show had. I'd heartily recommend this episode, but only to people who don't watch the show. They'll be the ones who can appreciate what it does well without growing ever more frustrated by the show's inability to tell a straightforward story or develop any characters organically.
Look, if “The Killing” pulls off something miraculous and nails its final three episodes, coming up with a finale that makes us question everything we thought we knew about the show and brilliantly brings the season to a close, the weird misstep into the overly elaborate and eventually silly Bennet plot line is going to hang over the season, spreading its stench everywhere. It’s as if the show wandered down one alleyway and couldn’t find its way out, with all of the major characters repeating the same basic beats for four or five episodes, without an end in sight. But now that the Bennet story is more or less over –- with Bennet resting in a hospital in critical condition and Stan having turned himself in and residing in jail -– it feels like the show can get going again. And although there were stupid things in tonight’s episode, this was the most I’ve enjoyed “The Killing” in a while.
All stories rely on coincidence. For a story to begin, you have to accept that a certain number of characters will just happen to meet each other or that a certain series of events will happen, even though it might not otherwise. A few extra moments here or there and two people don’t meet and we don’t have a story. There’s a certain amount of coincidence those hearing a story will accept just because we know it’s inherent to the act of telling a story.
But there’s also a point where the weight of coincidence becomes too much. Theoretically, I like the idea of Stan finally snapping and seemingly beating Bennet to death, even as everyone else around him abruptly realizes that the seemingly guilty teacher is actually completely innocent. But the way “The Killing” led us to this plot point felt incredibly cheap. Let’s count up the coincidences, shall we?
Well, it only took eight episodes, but in "Stonewalled," it sure seems like Sarah Linden has finally snapped. I fully expect the next episode to involve her rampaging through downtown Seattle, setting fires in spite of the rain, and angrily screaming "WHO KILLED ROSIE LARSEN?!" at just about anybody she happens to corner. That or, you know, she could yell at her son a few times here and there.
One of the bigger problems with "The Killing" is that it seems to lack dramatic tension. It's got marvelous atmosphere and mood. It's got beautiful scenery and direction. It's got some riveting performances, from actors doing their best with barely-there characters. But there's no real dramatic momentum or impetus for anybody's actions on this show. It's a beautifully shot slog, with lots and lots of things that are the way they are because it seems as though the writers just think that's the way you do a quality cable drama.
So, wait? Is this supposed to be some kind of political commentary on the war on terror now?
"The Killing," now veering wildly from nearly gripping installments that give us plenty to ponder and boring installments that seem to have nothing going on, is a good show, but it's also a show that isn't really gelling. I don't regret watching it each week, but I always leave it wanting it to be better. And it's hard to explain just where it falls down. The mood and atmosphere is terrific, enough so that it gets me through episode after episode, barely even noticing how slowly things are moving and just how little is happening. And outside of the Richmond campaign, I like most of the characters and the little, human moments we get to see between them.
The best episodes of “The Killing” create the sense that the Darren Richmond campaign, the investigation into the death of Rosie Larsen, and the Larsen family grieving Rosie’s death are all in imminent danger of collision, where everything could go haywire thanks to one ill-timed event or moment. The previous episode of the show, easily the series’ weakest so far, was far too involved in the idea of who the mole in the Richmond campaign was, and thus felt distanced from the murder at the story’s center. This episode felt like a nice step up from that episode, and it was the first in a while where all of the pieces fit together into a climax that was legitimately thrilling.
For an episode of television where quite a bit happened, didn't it sort of feel like nothing happened in the latest episode of “The Killing”? Sure, we start the hour thinking maybe Bennet did it, and we end the hour really thinking he might have done it. And there are a few big developments on both the campaign and Larsen fronts. But by and large, this was a pretty listless hour, and I'm left wondering why.
The thing is, it's an inherent problem when telling a murder mystery over the course of a season. We've talked about this before, but no matter how much the series is trying to make Bennet seem like the ultimate bad guy, there's pretty much no way he can be because the series isn't going to be about Linden and Holder fingering the perp in Episode 4, then spending the other nine episodes slowly building a case against him. This isn't “The Wire,” where we pretty much know who's on which side from the get-go and the series is all about how the chips fall once they begin to do so.
For the last few weeks, it’s been obvious “The Killing” was trying to turn everybody on the show into a suspect of some sort. And that was fun. Married to the show’s great sense of atmosphere and wonderful sense of personal crisis, the wonderful cast of characters brought an air of mystery that the proceedings needed. But now that Alan Dale –- who always, only, plays evil dudes, like the evil dude on “The O.C.” or Charles Widmore on “Lost” –- has turned up as Gwen’s father, a senator, no less, I think we can all agree that he did it and just move on with our lives, waiting for the other characters to catch up.
I kid, of course (though it would be enormously amusing if the senator did turn out to be the culprit in the end), but Dale’s appearance enlivens what’s been the series’ weakest elements so far: the campaign of Darren Richmond for mayor. It’s obvious that the storyline is here both because it was in the original Danish series and because this series so badly wants to be the British miniseries “State of Play,” but the characters in the Richmond campaign aren’t as compelling as the cops or the Larsen family.
But now that we’re watching Darren kowtow to a rich guy he’d rather not be involved with and seeing Gwen try to get her dad to help her out, the political aspects of the story are picking up a bit. I also liked the twist involving Jamie now being a mole within the mayor’s campaign for Darren, which I didn’t see coming. This isn’t on the level of everything else, but it’s at least more interesting now than it was before.