The Killing: Off the Reservation

 Posted by on May 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm  The Killing
May 142012

The Killing Off the ReservationI fly relatively frequently. In the past couple of years, I’ve flown on a red eye, leaving late at night, and I’ve arrived at airports at Oh-God-O’Clock. I’ve been to Kansas City, to Rio de Janiero, and every place in between: The waiting area for a boarding flight is simply never empty. Never. Now, most of us know you can’t accompany someone past the security screening, but you can if that someone is a minor who will be traveling alone. However, in that case, you are generally required to accompany them all the way to the gate, not hug them goodbye in a dramatically empty waiting area nowhere near the gate.

And then Holder shows up. Past the security screening. Without a boarding pass. Because.

This is all a really stupid complaint. An empty waiting area looks dramatic and saves money on extras. Holder showing up there made a very pretty shot: prettier than meeting her outside. But the sloppy approach to reality permeates this show, which relies on beautifully composed shots and strong actors rather than scripts.

The opening segment of Off the Reservation was excellent. People were histrionic and there were dogs and the search called back to the first epiosde and it ended with a bloody body of a cared-for character. It did what cop shows are supposed to do. But then we were back to strong actors behaving as best they can within the limitations of the script, and Linden staring into the middle distance.

I do want to call especial attention to the scene between Stan Larsen and Naomi. She shows up in response to his offer of a reward. We see right away that she’s an Indian, and we know that the mystery lies squarely in the reservation. Stan responds to her in a way that suggests she is different from anyone else he’s spoken to, and the mess at his table suggests he’s spoken to a lot of people. But within moments, we see that Naomi is a charlatan, a fake medium promising Stan he can talk to his daughter “for a small fee.” So congratulations, The Killing, you’ve learned how to dispose of red herrings in the course of one scene!

As sarcastic as I sometimes feel about the scripting, The Killing has beauty, which is undervalued on TV. There are precious few shows in which you actually want to pause and appreciate shot composition. This show is an exquisite visual experience, even when the plot is full of fail. And honestly, I’m not sure a murder mystery plot can ever be that compelling—is there any genre more thoroughly mined? Are there any permutations yet to explore? A show like this rises or falls, not on plot, but on characterization, acting, presentation, and filming. So the beauty matters a great deal.

This makes my own position a painful one, because advance screeners are available only with proprietary notices plastered all over the screen, including dead center, so for me, the beauty is diminished. I could watch live but it’s on the same night as Mad Men, so I’d never be able to recap both. For this reason, I doubt I’ll continue recapping after Rosie’s murder is solved. Because despite the plot being unimportant by my own reckoning, I want to know already.

After that, I doubt I’ll be back. Response in comments suggest y’all don’t care that much.


  19 Responses to “The Killing: Off the Reservation”

  1. I watched this show last year. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It was dark and hard for me to watch, but I was kinda enthralled. Then when we didn’t learn who the killer was, I felt let down. I didn’t realize it would go for seasons unsolved. I am not fast to pick up on the red herring bits, but after awhile even I got tired of that. I still want to know who done it. I still like Holder and the atmosphere. I find the Linden situation almost unwatchable now. I just want to move that child to his Dad’s and be done with it.

    • It’s odd to me, Marylou, that you’re so angry at what a bad father Don is on Mad Men, but you want Jack to move in with his father, who disappeared for ten years and then showed up unannounced, secretly communicating with his son before finally contacting Sarah. I think he’s a monster. I wouldn’t let him anywhere near my child or anyone else’s.

  2. It is the idealizing of Don versus the demonizing of Betty that is annoying. Linden seems to put her son in genuine danger, she is neglectful, she fails to provide a stable home, and the father at least what I have seen appears to be able to provide that at this time. I agree that disappearing for 10 years is monstrous. But what is the answer, never returning? If the father can provide a stable, loving home now, and the mother clearly cannot, at least at this time, then it might be better for the son to spend time with the father.

    • I think she’s been wrong to try to prevent her son from spending any time at all, but her experience of this guy is that he abandoned her for ten years and then showed up with a list of demands and then, after 2 weeks pass and the demands aren’t met, lawyered up and sent Child Protective Services after her. He’s a monster. She’s got problems but who knows what that guy would do once he had Jack?

      • Good points. I forgot that he sent Child Protective Services after Linden. The was heinous.

      • I am not going to defend a biological Father that shows up after 10 years and wants to be a part of Jack’s life, but if you think Linden is keeping Jack way from the Father out of her worry for Jack’s welfare, well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. She is doing it out of selfishness, not what is best for Jack.

        The Father may not be the best choice, but neither is leaving Jack alone for extended periods of time, ignoring his pleading for help with a temp of 103F, running him around to multiple hotel rooms, yanking him in and out of school, and finally kidnapping him from child protective services.

        I was very, very proud of Linden for putting Jack’s welfare ahead of her job and her personal well being. I respect her tremendously for doing that.

        • That is the part of the show I saw and why I originally thought Jack needed to go stay with his Dad. Apparently there was more to it and the way the Dad re-entered Jack’s life was clearly wrong. Nevertheless, it does seem that Linden is incapable of providing a stable home at least at this time.

          • Thanks Marylou. There is a wonderful article in SEXY BEAST comparing the Danish version “Forbrydelsen” with the US version “The Killing” by Jace Lacob. It does not let loose of the Danish version’s killer of Rosey, but does loosely talk of the changes experienced by the major characters in “Forbrydelsen”. It is the best article, to date outside of Deb’s of course, that I have read. Enjoy.

          • thanks!

          • Marylou, what did you think about the article?

          • I couldn’t find it.

          • Go under jace lacob daily beast the killing–should be 1st up on google. is the site. See if that helps. Well worth your time, imo.

        • Got it! Thanks. I searched for “sexy beast” “the killing” and it didn’t work. Not sure why. Got now – will read after work! 🙂

          • It sounds like the Danish version was much better done. I wish we had that version available in the U.S. I would like to watch it.

  3. That was heinous.

    • The entire show is heinous. I don’t care about any of these characters anymore (not that I ever much did), and the only reason I care about the murder is because I’ve invested too much time to completely wash my hands of it. I hope they prove me wrong and cure me of caring even about that.

  4. Holder is still a cop. has a badge. I suspect that opens lots of doors.

  5. Deborah, this was, imo, your best on “The Killing”. Your, “But the sloppy approach to reality permeates this show, which relies on beautifully composed shots and strong actors rather than scripts.”, was right on target. Also, “But then we were back to strong actors behaving as best they can within the limitations of the script, and Linden staring into the middle distance.”, was also on target. It is these strong actors that have kept me watching this mess. And the final answer to who killed the daughter, maid, waitress, hooker, campaign worker, sister that supposedly was Rosey.

    Sud directed this episode, so it came off just like she wanted it. Stan’s and Naomi’s was beautifully done and acted. More please! Too bad there wasn’t much more.

    I again, applaud you for sticking this thing out. My solution would be to cancel this show and give the money saved to”Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men”. Although, I believe BB and MM are doing just fine with the money they already have.

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