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REVIEW: The Killing “Pilot” & “The Cage” S1 E1&2

04 Apr

There were lots of shows that premiered last night.  And I was up till the wee hours of the morning watching them because I was excited for all 3 shows.  But the show that was the best of the bunch was The Killing.  Set in Seattle, The Killing follows the story of Who Killed Rosie Larson?   The story is told from the angle of the detectives, the victim’s family, and a political campaign.  I love a great serialized “who done it” so I am already 100% behind this show!

Already what I like about The Killing, is that it follows one case for an entire season.  There are many questions about why this happened and who was responsible but that’s not all we are going to get into with this show.  It’s not fair to compare a procedural drama (like The Mentalist or Criminal Minds) to a serialized format like this “who done it” will be but I am going to anyway!!  If you read my blog you will note that I have mentioned how much easier it is getting to figure out who the guilty party is on these shows.  In fairness, they have 42 minutes to get all the information they need into this episode to make it flow and work.  The suspect list is usually small so it’s easy to see (or at least narrow down to a 50/50 guess) who will be guilty.  But in a show like The Killing where it is serialized, we have an entire season to get into the case, the suspects and how this affects all the characters involved.  It reminds me of the show from the 90s, Murder One.  It’s a little different since Murder One was more about the trial than the investigation, but it’s similar in my mind.  I loved that show!!!  I loved all the different stories that made up the series and the character development that occurred.   I think that’s exactly what we are going to get here as well.  This is series will be so much more, I think, than who killed Rosie.

Detective Sarah Linden (Mirelle Enos) is a single mom who was just recently engaged to her boyfriend Rick, and they are moving to Sonoma, CA.  Jack, her son, I gather isn’t a big fan of Rick nor of them moving and Sarah tries to soften the blow of uprooting Jack as much as she can.  Before she leaves though, her boss tells her to investigate one more case with the new detective from narcotics who will be taking over for her, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnamen.)   Already you can tell that Holder is not as polished when it comes to a murder investigation and Linden keeps giving him the old stink eye every time he screws something up.  Since Sarah is the main character of the show, you know she isn’t going anywhere and allows this case to pull her back in.  This is one of the first questions I have outside of Rosie’s investigation.   Why is Sarah so drawn to this case?  I’m sure she’s investigated hundreds of cases before so why is this one forcing her to reexamine whether or not she should leave?  Is she just that determined to finish what she has started or is there some connection to her past that is making her stay?   Time will tell.   I’m anxious to get to know these characters a bit more.  First impression, neither one are very likable, especially Holder.  And I guess I wouldn’t say Linden is unlikable but initially she comes off a bit insipid.  She spends a lot of time just staring off into space.  Are they trying to paint her as stoic or pensive?  I’m not sure.  Or, again, is there a deeper story there?  I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for now.

Rosie’s parents are, so far, the standouts of the series.  Mitch and Stan (Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton) are Rosie’s parents who are blue-collar, hard-working people, raising their family in downtown Seattle.  Rosie is their oldest and they have two younger boys who idolize their older sister.  I get the impression that Rosie was a good kid getting ready to go to college but did have a bit of a mischievous streak in her.  Mitch and Stan took the boys camping while Rosie went to a dance and stayed at her best friend Sterling’s house over the weekend (allegedly.)  I did find it surprising that neither Mitch nor Stan would reach out for Rosie over the weekend or double-check that she was in school Monday, but I guess that’s the more of the norm at their house.  Since Stan’s ATM card was found in a field with a girl’s bloody sweater, Linden and Holder go to talk to the family.  The one thing I had a problem with, and I’m not a detective so maybe I am completely wrong about this, was Linden noticing a pink bike and asking Mitch if she had a daughter and where she was.  As it turns out, it was her daughter that went missing and was eventually killed, but Linden didn’t know that at the time.  Don’t you think it would have been horrible for her to assume it was Mitch and Stan’s daughter that went missing and arouse fear in them, if it turned out not to be her?  I just think that was an awful big leap for her to make.  It would have made more sense if Holder made that mistake but not the experienced homicide detective.  Anyway, as a result of the meeting, Mitch and Stan are heartsick about where Rosie could be and are trying to stay positive.  Stan promises to go out and find her and Mitch waits at home by the phone in case she hears from her.   Stan thinks he finds her at her ex-scumbag boyfriend’s house but it turns out not to be her.  Stan starts to worry and calls Mitch to tell her what is going on.  As he is driving, he stumbles on the scene of the police and they have the road blocked.  Stan jumps out because he sees them around a car.  They radio to Linden that they have the father and when she walks over to him, he asks if that is his daughter.  She keeps telling him that he shouldn’t be there but her face tells him everything he needs to know and he breaks down with Mitch on the other line.  It reminded me of the scene in Mystic River when Sean Penn keeps asking Kevin Bacon if his daughter is in the bear cage.  It was awful to watch.  So was this scene.  The worst was watching Mitch scream for her husband while she is breaking down and her 2 sons are watching her in horror.  After they had to ID her body (which I honestly don’t know how any loved one can ever do that without completely being messed up for life after seeing that) they take the boys out to tell them what has happened to their sister.  It was another gut wrenching scene that was beautifully executed by all actors.  So the search for their daughter’s killer begins while they try to piece their lives back together.

Finally we have the political element of the show.  Councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) is running for mayor of Seattle.  Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman) and Jamie Wright (Eric Ladin) are his campaign managers and advisors.  We learn that Gwen and Darren are sleeping together and that Darren was previously married but that his wife passed away.  He was seen in the beginning of the episode at a memorial/cemetery and we eventually learn that his wife has died.  Jamie is the typical disgusting campaign manager while Gwen is the typical appeaser.  On the surface, they are very stereotypical members of a political campaign.  But is there more to each of them?  I think there is.  Maybe not with Jamie he seem like a real sleaze but Gwen may not be a “wonderful” as she appears.  Rosie’s kidnapping/murder happens right in the middle of his bid for mayor and not only will it be a political hot button now during the campaign, but it seems that Rosie was found in the trunk of one of the cars registered to his campaign.  Yikes.  Although the car was reported stolen a few days ago so maybe it’s just a coincidence.  Me thinks not so much!

There are also many other side characters/suspects that we meet….Rosie’s Aunt and Mitch’s sister Terry (Jamie Anne Allman), Rosie’s BFF Sterling (Kasey Rohl), her teacher and principal, Bennet Ahmed (Brandon Jay McLaren) and Principal Myers (Kerry Sandomirsky), douchebag ex-boyfriend Jasper (Richard Harmon), Jasper’s father Michael (Barclay Hope), Jasper’s Skater buddy Kris (Gharrett Paon), the incumbant mayor Lesley Adams (Tom Butler), fellow councilwoman and Richmond supporter, Ruth Yitanes (Lee Garlington) and Stan’s partner at work Belko Royce (Brendan Sexton III.)

The Killing looks to be a fantastic show.  I do think there were parts that were a bit slow.  And I don’t mind slower moments that could develop character or plot.  But some parts felt slow for no reason.  Like the opening of the show when Linden was running and ran on the lake side to see some dead animal in the sand.  Then she did her typical stare off into space with a desperate look.  I’m not sure what point this served.  It’s so early in the series and we don’t know Linden at all yet so I can’t even bring to imagine what she was thinking or feeling at this point.  It isn’t a huge deal but something I did notice throughout the premiere.

I  know it’s ridiculously early in the show and there are probably many characters/suspects we have yet to meet.   But if I had wager an early guess on the culprit….it would be either Belko or Jamie.  I have no significant reasons for those picks other than Jamie is an asshole and Belko just looks like he’s done something wrong.   What are your thoughts on The Killing?  If you watched it, will you continue?  If you haven’t checked it out, AMC will be replaying several times this week.  My advice would be to check it out or DVR it because it really looks to be one of the best new shows of the season!

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