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Six Feet Under: What You Have Left on The Killing

"Who you are is five words: 'dead girl in a trunk.'" - Jamie

While The Killing is largely about the investigation into the death of Rosie Larsen, it's as much an investigation into the lives of those left behind, an existential discussion of the way in which death invades our lives and how grief, often the only thing you have left after a loved one dies, can transform into rage. That a loving couple can become squabbling rivals in an argument that no one wins, or how a father's love can become misguided vengeance.

This week's episode of The Killing ("What You Have Left"), written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Agnieszka Holland, traces both ends of the spectrum, following Linden and Holder as they attempt to ensnare Bennet Ahmed, Rosie's teacher and currently the prime suspect in her murder, and the Larsen family as they bury Rosie and attempt to make their peace with her passing.

Bennet's alibi is rapidly unraveling this week as Linden and Holder discover some disturbing news about his whereabouts on the night of the dance and the possibility that he and his pregnant wife may have been involved in Rosie's murder. But don't get too excited just yet: it's way too early in the season for our favorite coppers to have nabbed their suspect and the frame is just a little too convenient at the moment.

Here's what we now know about Rosie's whereabouts the night of her death and the timeline of that evening:

-Rosie attended a school dance dressed as a witch. At some point, she changed out of her costume and left for parts as yet unknown, but possibly the residence of her teacher, Bennet Ahmed.

-At some point after the dance, Rosie was seen banging on the door of Bennet's home at approximately ten pm. She was let in, but it now appears that it wasn't Bennet who let her in, but his wife Amber, as Bennet was still at the dance as of 10:20 pm and couldn't have opened the door for her.

-The presence of ammonium hydroxide in Rosie's system is suspicious as well. We know that Bennet had some in his house but was it used to conceal signs of sexual assault and erase DNA from her body... or was Rosie helping to put the flooring together? If Rosie wasn't there to see Bennet, was she there to see Amber? Hmmm...

-Amber went to see her religious sister Grace much later than Bennet told the police. (She doesn't show up there until 1 am.) Grace insinuates that Grace was upset about Bennet, but it's unclear what transpired between them.

-A neighbor with a telescope claims to have seen Bennet and a "smaller-type person" (read: woman) carrying a girl wrapped up in a carpet. But this seems unlikely, and he also claimed it was hard to see what was going on because it was raining. While it seems as though the writers want us to believe that it was Amber who was helping him, I don't see a pregnant woman hefting a dead body, wrapped in a carpet, into car. More likely, the woman was Rosie herself. Particularly as...

-Rosie was pursued through the woods by the lake by an unknown assailant. How she got to the lake is currently unknown, though her body was discovered in the trunk of a submerged car belonging to the Darren Richmond campaign and she was not dead when she went into the water. Which could mean that the killer intended her to suffer, which either displays a form of pathology or a connection to the victim. Additionally, it's worth pointing out that Holder and Linden are as yet unaware of these events, as it's only the audience that saw this scene play out...

The fact that we see Amber clutching a hammer in the darkness when Linden and Holder bang on her door leads me to believe that we're definitely missing some crucial pieces of information from the bigger picture here. Something is not quite adding up with Amber and there are some definite inconsistencies to Bennet's story, as though he's trying to protect someone (Amber being the most likely suspect there), but why does he slip and call his unborn child "he" when he knows it's a girl? Weird.

I don't think for a second that Bennet is the killer, but that doesn't stop Adams from insinuating as much during his debate with Darren... and Darren, being the stand-up guy that he is, refuses to throw Bennet to the wolves without due process. After all, he IS innocent until proven guilty and everyone--from the politicians to the police--are making huge assumptions about his guilt because it's an easy frame: sick teacher takes advantage of his female students. (That Amber is a former student is particularly damning, it seems.) Darren's unwavering support for Bennet--or at least his refusal to condemn the man without a trial--could signal the end of his campaign as Adams is only too willing to use his association with Bennet to his advantage. But while the lights in the studio go out, leaving Darren on his own, I wouldn't count this crusader out just yet...

And then there's Stan, who is only too willing to believe that Bennet murdered his only daughter, thanks to Belko whispering in his ear. I'm not sure just who Belko's source at the school is, but the likeliest person is Holder's confidante (sponsor, perhaps?), a fellow detective who trades some information with Holder in exchange for Bennet's name as the chief suspect in the Larsen case. He tells Holder (who only later finally tells Linden) that Stan was an enforcer for the Polish mob and killed a few guys in his day, before leaving that life behind altogether.

Add together a violent past, mob connections, and a dead daughter who is now six feet underground and you get a ticking timebomb that's ready to blow. And it does at the reception after Rosie's funeral, thanks to Belko. Stan manages to get Bennet alone in his car as they drive off... to parts unknown, though Stan's intent seems clear enough: he wants payback for Rosie's murder. And I don't know that Linden and Holder will get to him in time...

Meanwhile, there's Mitch's sister Terry, who seems to be going through something of her own. She lashes out angrily at Belko, reminding him that he's not a member of the family and then proceeds to drink and smoke her way through the remainder of the reception, putting a record on in Rosie's old room. But it's the way that Jasper's father, Michael Ames, not so subtly snubs her when he and his wife arrive to pay their respects that jumped out at me the most. Was Terry sleeping with Jasper's dad? Or Jasper himself? (Remember, he claimed to have a thing for picking up older women at bars.) Just what is the bad blood there exactly? Hmmm...

But, while the episode was filled with new questions stemming from Rosie's murder, it was once again the small moments that stood out, the somber and momentous indications of death and grief: the bitter fight between Mitch and Stan over when Rosie gave him those cufflinks; the sight of Rosie in her selected dress in her coffin, being wheeled upstairs by the undertaker; Tommy squishing the bug underfoot as he contemplates his sister's burial; the fragile beauty Mitch exhibits as she stands at the bottom of the stairs.

What you have left, it seems, is grief and the struggle to continue on without a sense of closure. What's left, for the Larsens, is a Rosie-shaped hole where their daughter should be, and the sense that their lives will never, ever be the same again...

Next week on The Killing ("Vengeance"), the police learn more about Rosie's whereabouts on the night of her death; Mitch begins doubting the investigation.


Ellie said…
I agree that Bennett is not the murderer as it's too early in the season but there's obviously some mystery with him and his wife and I'm very curious as to what it is!
Rebecca said…
I agree that it doesn't seem likely that Bennet's wife, Amber, would have been the one to carry anything inside a carpet. I hadn't thought it could have been Rosie. Interesting!

I wondered if the shot of the gurney's wheels taking a turn was a brief homage to Six Feet Under. If so, I liked that. If not, odd coincidence.

Holder is, without a doubt, one of the creepiest detectives I have ever seen on television. I'm worried that he will not have any redeeming qualities at the rate he's going.

Love this show. Thank you again for writing about it.

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