One of the most striking aspects of The Killing has been Detective Sarah Linden’s fragility. There is a standard trope in crime fiction that someone who knows too much is painted as a psych patient in order to get them out of the way. I think anyone watching 72 Hours started with the assumption that we were watching that trope. Indeed, Sarah herself, as well as Holder, seemed sure that was why she was being held. Yet Sarah really is coming apart, really isn’t managing to eat or sleep or care for her son, really is behaving irrationally. And at the same time, she isn’t wrong about the Rosie case. Having Sarah be both: Both psychologically damaged and wrong, while at the same time a smart cop and right, is genuinely interesting. Some of the scenes in the psych ward were fantastic, while others (Sarah being carried out of the psychiatrist’s office) were overplayed and almost silly. Still, it’s a piece of character work that deserves praise.
Over the last few weeks, past characters have been brought back, seemingly in response to viewer complaints that characters disappear never to be heard from again—although we viewers should not have an inflated opinion of our own power. Who knows why Bennet and his wife, and Rick Felder (Sarah’s former fiance) were brought back? Felder hasn’t behaved much like a jilted fiance, or even a pining fiance, but his presence adds intrigue to Sarah’s character.
At first it wasn’t obvious why he’s there, at least to me. Somehow Holder pulled a string and someone got Sarah out. But then it’s clear—Felder was Sarah’s psychiatrist three years ago; that’s how they met. His taking her away from Seattle and away from police work was an elaborate rescue drama in which Dr. Felder imagined himself a knight in psychiatric armor saving the helpless obsessive princess. No wonder he walked away the minute she insisted on completing an investigation. What a sick bastard.
On the other hand, The Killing teases us with the sick and crazy and then backs coyly away. We can read the implication that Sarah’s romance was pretty disturbing, but we’re not allowed to look closely. Last week, Gwen implied that the Mayor raped her when she was 14, but now we find that the big scandal that she imagined would derail his campaign was that he kissed her. Kissed her. We get teased that Rosie was a prostitute, but no she wasn’t. The nasty underside of this story gets dangled in front of us and then hid politely behind a curtain. At this point, isn’t some nasty called for?
The past two or three weeks, I’ve forgotten to watch this show as early in the week as my screener was available. In part, this is because I am a little on the ditzy side, but in part, it’s because, while The Killing is sometimes intriguing, and sometimes beautiful, it is no longer remotely compelling.