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Monday, April 11, 2011

'The Killing' episode 3: Who killed Laura Palmer, I mean, Rosie Larsen?

RAINY DAY WOMAN: Detective Linden (right) eyes a suspect
  • AMC TV
  • RAINY DAY WOMAN: Umbrella? What's that?
It's gotten to the point where AMC has reinvented itself so masterfully, padded its lineup with such fine, compelling programming ("Breaking Bad," "Mad Men") that one could argue that the former classic movie channel could put a bonnet on a turd these days and folks would still throw Emmys at it. A remake of the acclaimed Danish series "Forbrydelsen," which we assume translates to "Damn Seattle's rainy!", "The Killing" follows the Seattle PD investigation of a teenage girl's murder. So far "The Killing" proves thrilling, suspenseful, and slightly addictive, if a bit contrived at times.

Mireille Enos plays Sarah Linden, the stoic, constipated-looking, Nicorette-chewing homicide detective, who's forced to put her wedding plans in sunny Sonoma on hold to solve one last murder. Linden has a Sherlockian knack for solving crimes. In the pilot, she figures out where Rosie's body has been dumped after observing a group of kids with fishing poles headed up a path toward an area of the park the cops had written off. On last night's episode, she spotted an eye-level, quarter-size hole in the school's basement wall leading to the series' most solid lead yet.

Her sidekick is mousey homicide rookie Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), fresh out of the narcotics division. He's the chatty counterpoint to Linden's tight-lipped sleuthing, thinks he's much better looking than he actually is, and earns false trust from schoolkids with the narc division's teaser weed, which looks, smells and tastes like weed, but, apparently, isn't.

"The Killing" shares some plot similarities with David Lynch's surreal ’90s drama "Twin Peaks." Both series take place in Washington state, and both hinge on the mystery behind the murder of a nice, pretty high school girl. At this point "The Killing" promises a much more straightforward approach to answering that looming question of "Who killed Laura Palmer?" I mean, Rosie Larsen. The look and feel of "The Killing," with it's perennially overcast skies, political intrigue, and blue-collar aesthetic is more indicative of gritty, noir-ish crime shows. Which makes sense, considering series creator, executive producer, and writer Veena Sud was a writer and executive producer on the CBS police procedural "Cold Case." But the "The Killing" isn't just a bunch of cop talk. So far the show's maintained a shadow of calculated horror, as in the hypothesis that Rosie's nails came loose (as we saw on her unsheated corpse) after trying to claw her way out of the trunk of a sinking car. It's a thread that so far makes the series more (David) Finchian than Lynchian.

Plus, Linden doesn't appear to have a penchant for diners, coffee and cherry pie (love you Coop!).

The pilot ended last week with the Larsen family reeling from the news of Rosie's death; Mom Mitch (the amazing Michelle Forbes) lies crumpled on the bed, curled around a pillow in the fetal position. Meanwhile, Holder unearths "the Cage," the school's dungeon-like refuge for ne'er-do-well students covered in blood and drug paraphernalia.

Eagle-eye Linden quickly spots the aforementioned peephole from across the Cage, revealing a neighboring room — a former sports equipment closet only the school principal and one of the janitors — the oddly named Lyndon Johnson Rosales — have keys to.

JASPER: Clearly not guilty
  • AMC TV
  • JASPER: Clearly not guilty
Holder and Linden track Rosales to the walk-up he shares with his blind-ish mother who insists he's not home. Linden quietly searches the apartment, revealing back issues of Naughty Cheerleader under an easy chair, when Rosales lurches from the shadows and slashes at Linden with a knife. "We just want to talk to you!" Linden screams before Rosales turns on his heel and throws himself through a plate glass window, landing with full force face up on the pavement below.

Miraculously, Rosales survives and regains his senses enough after surgery and a few hours to ID high school drop-out/meth dealer Kris Echols (Gharrett Patrick Paon) as Rosie's dance date. To Linden's question about whether there was anyone else with Rosie, Rosales shakes his head and gurgles through his feeding tube, "El Diablo. El Diablo."

At the same time, city councilman and mayoral hopeful Darren Richmond (Billy Campell) is trying to salvage his campaign after news breaks that Rosie was found dead in one of his campaign cars. Richmond's P.I. fingers Richmond's campaign strategist Jamie (Eric Ladin) as the internal leak, and he's sent packing without a chance to defend himself.

We know Kris is in cahoots with bratty rich kid Jasper — who looks more like a student from Hogwarts' Slytherin than the Seattle Public School system — when Kris rolls up on his skateboard and punches Jasper in the face yelling, "They know! The cops know!" after being pressured by Holder for information. We find out what the two have been up to in the episode's big reveal: The two horrible-looking young men resembling a couple of rejects from "Gossip Girl" and "Fall Out Boy," respectively, raped Rosie repeatedly the night of the dance. And recorded it on their cell phone. Jasper sported a devil mask all the while, hence Rosales' "El Diablo" declarations.

So was it Jasper and Kris in the cage with a high dosage of meth that killed Rosie Larsen? Not likely, considering we still have 10 episodes to go. Honestly, I'm not sure who to suspect at this point, although I know I don't trust Gwen Eaton, Richmond's campaign manager and love interest. A more pressing question might be, "Why don't any of these people use umbrellas? Or at least the hoods on their raincoats?"

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