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‘The Killing’ Review: “Sayonara, Hiawatha”

The Killing
AMC

The Killing‘ has been slowly elevating itself from a red herring-laden procedural slow burn to an emotional, character-driven drama. While it’s mostly stumbled on its way there, “Sayonara, Hiawatha” seems to have found a nice middle ground.

The emotional beats this week are simply stellar. Stan is called into the school because his son Tommy found and killed three baby birds. His teachers are naturally concerned that this is an early warning sign of more violent inclinations, but Stan knows that his son, like the rest of the family, is going through a hard time because of Rosie’s death — a death that we’re reminded took place only three weeks ago in the show’s timeline.

After the meeting with the teachers, Tommy and Stan have a heated confrontation in the parking lot that involves Tommy yelling at Stan, admitting that he’s glad Rosie is dead and he wishes he could leave Stan like Mitch did. It’s a moment that could ring more emotionally hollow, but the way things have been going with the remaining Larsen kids has been handled beautifully and sensibly. Stan’s arc this season has left much to be desired, but between last week and this week his character has taken a turn, allowing Brent Sexton to show off his acting skills with weightier material.

Linden is similarly experiencing some parental struggles as she copes with sending Jack off to live with his father. While the stay seemed temporary last week, a phone call with Jack this week makes it sound a little more permanent. Linden breaks down in her car, crying because she misses her son, and if we weren’t already so enamored with their relationship as she bid him farewell last week, this week just seals the deal.

‘The Killing’ has successfully built strong relationships this season between almost all of its characters — for a show that has worked to spin a web between everyone and has often had a shaky time doing it, they now appear to be going back over that web delicately, reinforcing the weak spots by building on small moments between characters that are proving to be surprisingly rich.

Darren Richmond meets with Chief Jackson to discuss a deal with the waterfront; she wants tax-exempt status for everything built on Indian land, while Darren wants her to allow the police to search the land for clues to Rosie’s murder in exchange as a show of good faith. Jackson refuses, and Richmond impressively, and curtly, walks away. Later, in a moment where he questions the purpose of even running for mayor, he asks Jamie, “After everything that’s happened, Jamie, it has to mean something or what’s the point?” This show has a knack for giving its characters dialogue that could also speak for its audience. It does have to mean something after all this time — everything this show does has to mean something in the service of Rosie’s death or else we’ve all wasted our time.

Mitch visits Rosie’s biological father, David, and avoids telling him that Rosie is dead. David tells her that Rosie came to visit him not long ago and said that she’d be taking off for California to watch the Monarch butterfly migration, something she never told Mitch or the rest of her family. It’s another strong emotional beat when Mitch tells David that Rosie isn’t his to spare him the same grief she’s experienced when he’ll inevitably find out Rosie is dead. It’s not too believable that after three weeks David wouldn’t know about Rosie, but the idea at play here is a moving one.

Gwen tries to bribe Adams away from the waterfront project with the promise of her father’s support, and when that fails, she alludes to an unsavory encounter she had with Adams when she was 14 years old. This doesn’t seem to phase Adams, though, as he tells her that her father was well aware of what happened between them. Though Gwen has been a weaker character, this moment is a quiet, but commanding one. The look in her eyes as she processes the revelation that her father may have known what this man did to her and turned the other cheek in pursuit of his career is stirring.

Emotional investment aside, this week also sees serious progress on solving the mystery of Rosie’s death. All the evidence has been moved to county, according to Lieutenant Carlson, but Holder discovers through some connections that the evidence never arrived. He confronts his former buddy Gil, but doesn’t get any answers. The sneaky Linden attaches a GPS monitor to Gil’s car, allowing them to see the most recent places he’s visited. This leads the pair to a storage locker where they find the missing evidence, including the key Linden needs to access the mysterious 10th floor of the Indian casino.

This is where the episode takes a turn toward horror territory, as Linden searches the 10th floor with Holder on the phone. Linden realizes that Rosie came there to look out upon the city one last time before she left, but she sees no other evidence — no blood, no sign of a struggle. She does, however, find the source of the noise on Rosie’s voicemail: a generator. And then Linden finally discovers something important: a city key card with blood on it. Just as she reaches for the card, Holder sees a light come on and warns her that she’s not alone. It’s too late, though, as an unseen person knocks Linden out.

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