Stan Larsen’s suffering is immense. We have been watching him grieve for two seasons, so we might forget, but the beginning of each episode of The Killing tells us that the episodes are consecutive days. His daughter has been dead for three weeks. That’s about enough time to remember how to shower and brush your teeth, because if someone you love as much as your own life dies, you’re going to forget those things.
When The Killing becomes miasmic, it’s easy to forget that, at its heart, the show is about grief. Well, about the reactions to a murder, which include grief, as well as political machinations, anger, self-righteousness, dismissal, and more. Even the things that have been poorly done on the show: Like the whole teacher thing, can tie into the broader theme. One reaction to murder? A revival of all your barely-hidden prejudices, a jumping to conclusions, an urge to violence, an urge to blame. All of these things actually did play out in the suspicion and beating and then dismissal of Bennett, and could have been played in a far more compelling manner.
But anyway, Stan Larsen grieves. You can see it in his hair, in the angle at which he holds his neck. You can hear it in the way his voice is clear, and then not, and then is again. He is suffused with loss so deep that he will create more loss: Driving Terry away. And Terry, man is she a loser who deserves driving away, but he kind of needs her, y’know?
The story of Keylela that the Chief tells (her name is Nicole Jackson, but I had to look that up) is a story of mythologizing punishment. It’s a clever bit of bait and switch; at first you think she’s talking about Rosie, the missing girl who will always be missing. But then you realize she’s talking about beating the shit out of Linden and Holder. Which I totally didn’t see coming! This show hasn’t had any violence since the shooting that ended last season, which is funny for a gruesome murder mystery.
The story ties in nicely to the notion that Rosie’s murder is itself a fairy tale, covering a dirty secret. The dirty secret of the Mayor-Ames-Janek-Chief Jackson conspiracy. The dirty secret of Terry and Beau Soleil. The dirty secret of Stan’s murderous past and Mitch’s pregnancy by another man. Nothing but dirty secrets in the body of a young girl. It was a disturbing story told by a disturbing woman, and it wasn’t too on the nose, either. You actually have to connect the dots.
Jackson herself was part of the pile of disconnected pieces of Season 1, and now she comes back, out of left field, but I’m okay with that because sense has to come out of somewhere with all this. Her scenes were intense.
And hey! Linden ran with her kid! That’s crazy. It creates the possibility that the status quo of this show will change. I don’t believe it for a minute, which is why I’m not talking about it much, but it could be cool. Linden is not that stable, is she?
Holder’s verbal mannerisms, for what it’s worth, have finally gotten on my last nerve. Jack’s right: Holder, you’re white. And not really that cool. You try too hard.