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End of the Line: A Soundless Echo on The Killing

"You said she didn't suffer."

Rule Number One among homicide detectives: don't make promises you can't keep. Sarah Linden knows this, which is why she doesn't offer the Larsens the false hope that they'll catch whoever slayed their beloved teenage daughter Rosie. (In fact, it's Holder who makes that promise.) But Linden's seemingly innocuous white lie--telling Mitch and Stan that Rosie didn't suffer--was itself intended to assuage the consciences of the grieving parents. When they come face to face with proof to the opposite, it's as much a shock to the system, a jolt of brutal realization, as the news that their daughter was dead.

In this week's episode of The Killing ("A Soundless Echo"), written by Soo Hugh and directed by Jennifer Getzinger, Mitch and Stan grapple with funeral arrangements for Rosie--the minutiae of grief and loss--as the investigators make some shocking new discoveries about Rosie's secret life and that video they discovered, and the Richmond campaign strives to stay in the mayoral race.

The concentric circles of the narrative of The Killing are keenly felt here: the political, the personal, the inner lives of people we think we know. So many secrets swirl around these characters just four episodes into the series' run: Just what did happen to Darren's wife? Who was the "dead girl" that Sarah Linden chased after last time? What is Sterling so afraid of? And over it all hovers the spirit of Rosie Larsen, the hungry ghost whose presence is itself a soundless echo of a life lived.

First things first: the video. It turns out that it wasn't Rosie we were seeing with Jasper and Kris, but her supposed BFF Sterling, who went down to The Cage with Rosie's ex-boyfriend and his friend during the Halloween dance wearing Rosie's witch's costume--which explains the pink wig covered in blood, those bloody handprints (thanks to Sterling's chronic nosebleeds), and the witch's hat down there, but the girl in the homemade video isn't Rosie. Which means that conjectures about how Rosie got from there to the lake are all incorrect: Rosie was never there...

I loved the scene in which Linden and Holder silently fix Kris in their shared gaze, offering not threats or encouragement, just the righteous anger of the silent. Playing a video of Rosie before her death--a Rosie that's full of life and promise for the future--they force him to tell the dead girl that he didn't kill her. But, given what we learn from Jasper, it seems like these two could be out of the frame altogether now. Rosie left the school dance and Sterling headed to the basement with Kris and Jasper. So where did Rosie go?

There's the mystery of the 108 bus, which Holder learns is Rosie's public transit option of choice. And we learn what lies at the end of the line for Rosie: a rendezvous spot with her teacher, Bennet, with whom Rosie appears to have been having a romantic relationship with. But hold that thought for one second...

First, the discovery of just what was at the end of the line is interesting for several reasons. While it gives the police a connection between Rosie and Bennet--the two were spotted together there on multiple occasions--there's another connection being forged here. The basketball program is one of Darren Richmond's anti-gang intitiatives and the presence of those Darren Richmond for Mayor posters in the locker room serve a bigger purpose: they establish a connection between Rosie Larsen and the Richmond campaign. However insubstantial it might seem, however flimsy and paper-thin, it's the first sign that Rosie and Darren may have moved in a similar circle, or that his campaign aides may have crossed paths with the dead girl.

And then there's Bennet. As soon as he sat down with Mitch in the hallway, I knew that his relationship with Rosie was more than just professional. Hell, even Holder suspects this in the pilot episode, implying that Bennet may have been attracted to Rosie. But before our imaginations run wild, let's explore the fact that Bennet and Rosie didn't have a sexual relationship. Sure, it seems as though the writers want to point us towards the possibility that they did, but that's what makes me leery.

Yes, Rosie "wanted the world," and Linden discovers Bennet's letters to Rosie concealed in her globe, letters that mention Rosie being "an old soul" wise beyond her years. While this seems pretty incriminating, it doesn't mean that their relationship was sexual. The fact that Bennet is so gentle with Mitch, so willing to share with her about her daughter's gift for learning, makes me believe that he wasn't sexually involved with her, as he'd be more likely to distance himself from her family than become entangled with her grieving mother. He makes a gift of Rosie's favorite novel (oddly not named here), discussing the "soundless echo" mentioned within. Was he in love with her? Were they just friends? What was she doing in such a rough neighborhood? And was that where she went the night of her death?

This week, we also caught a glimpse into the hidden lives of the Larsens, learning some key details about the behaviors and actions before Rosie's death. While Mitch is still in a deep state of shock, an emotionally numb zombie staggering through the day, it's Stan who seems to be reacting to the loss in interesting ways. We learn that he had purchased a house for his family before Rosie died but he'll have to sell it now amid everything that's happened. While Stan has seemed a more or less "good guy," there's darkness in him and clues to a past that may not have been as tranquil as he would have us believe.

Just what did Belko mean about taking care of Darren Richmond? And what was Stan's role in, uh, taking care of things for local mobster Janek he meets up with after many years of estrangement? What did "old times" involve exactly? Could it be that Stan was a mob enforcer? And what if Rosie's murder is in fact payback for something he did in his "past life"? Hmmm... Stan, meanwhile, does take the cash that's offered to him by Janek, placing it in a ledger in his office desk. Interesting that he doesn't put it in the bank or pay off some of his bills. So what does he want with the cash exactly?

Mitch, meanwhile, asks some tough questions of the priest who is overseeing Rosie's funeral arrangements. Where was God when Rosie's lungs were filling with water, as she tried to claw her way out of that trunk? The cold comfort offered here is just that, and Mitch can't stomach the sanctimonious religious treacle that's being offered here perfunctorally. Why isn't Rosie with HER, after all? What sort of deity can do such a thing to a mother? She looks at Christ on the cross and sees her daughter reflected back at her, the bound wrists, the bloody eyes, echoed back from the crucifix.

Her quest for answers leads her to Rosie's school, where she experiences a true moment of communion with Sterling, a beautiful scene that radiated loss, connection, and love. And then leads her on a collision course with Bennet, as described above. The questions that Mitch has knocking about inside of her require some form of answer. The questions the cops keep asking--do you recognize this key? what about these shoes? was Rosie seeing an adult?--need context. The moment she spends with Bennet connect her to a Rosie who isn't dead, but who had her whole life ahead of her. A girl who thought about books and not coffins, who dreamed of the future and not of burial.

Rosie's death has kicked everything out of orbit, from the Larsens' life to the political aspirations of Darren Richmond. This week, Gwen sought assistance from her father, Senator Eaton (played, of course, by Alan Dale), urging him to arrange a meeting between Darren and local hotshot Drexler, whose antics are lapped up by Seattle's well-heeled set but who seems like little more than an unlikable kid who struck it rich and uses his money to lord it over everyone around him. While Darren doesn't want to cut any deals with Drexler, he reluctantly takes a $50,000 check from him, using it to pay for a new billboard and cover other campaign costs. (He's unaware that it was Gwen that made the meet possible, even as she's chided by her father for sleeping with her candidate.)

It certainly seems as though Gwen is on the up-and-up, but then again so is Jamie, who we learn is secretly working for Darren. In a very Damages-like twist, Jamie is spying on Lesley Adams for Darren, ingratiating himself to the incumbent and hoping to learn who in the Richmond campaign is the saboteur. After all, as Darren and Jamie both acknowledge, if Jamie wanted to screw over Darren, he would have been smarter about it. Which begs the question: if it's not Jamie, just who is leaking information? Hmmm... (And I'm chuffed that it means Jamie is sticking around, as his deviousness and ambition make for good character qualities in a political thriller.)

And then there's Sarah Linden herself. She blows off trying out wedding cake samples with Rick for examining Rosie's room one last time. Is she getting too close to this case? Is she stuck in a repeating pattern once more? She's drawn to that drawing from the pilot episode again, its eerie sketch of trees, the silent scene less pleasant and more disturbing, another soundless echo of another dead girl...

Next week on The Killing ("Super 8"), Richmond and his team plan an anti-crime commercial; Stan turns to a work colleague for help in finding Rosie's killer.


Debbie said…
I am loving this show, and can't thank you enough for writing about it too. The writers, the actors, the weather, and the slow pace are making us wade through the various paths that the police are taking with this show. Can't wait to learn more!
rockauteur said…
Great episode. Obviously its only episode 5 so I doubt Bennet is the killer... but he might be partly to blame if through his work with Richmond's anti-gang intiative, he somehow, accidentally introduced her to her killer. Great episode with a great twist. But doubtful he is the killer... but then again... who knows? He was genuinely surprised about the sex tape video and its implications, even if in the end, it wasn't about Rosie. Only time will tell! Can't wait to see all the pieces fit together!

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