Perhaps the novelty of the show is beginning to wear off, but despite this episode’s numerous plot reveals and advancement for nearly every character, this episode fell a bit flat.
One thing that hurt this episode is the heavy emphasis on the campaign. The whole plot thread has connected rather tenuously to the murder investigation, and despite the personal connections of Darren Richmond to the pain and loss of the Larsen family, the writers have not done a good job of bringing the viewers into the stakes of the campaign. Even with the byzantine machinations of Councilwoman Yitanes and the Mayor, there just isn’t reason to care. We’ve come into the story midway, and the writers haven’t given us any reasons why the campaign is important in its own right, independent of the murder investigation. That being said, one thing I have appreciated is the ‘apolitical’ nature of the campaign. Perhaps this is part of the problem, but it shows some forethought on the writer’s part to avoid alienating the audience. Or maybe it doesn’t, but it’s nice nonetheless in this age of ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ entertainment suckerpunches.
For the investigation, this was a pretty big episode. While the evidence on Bennet is pretty circumstantial, it nevertheless points towards something pretty damning. Bennet’s involvement with his students and the business with the flooring company points to a potential unsavory relationship. The scene where they meet Bennet’s wife was remarkable, as Holden and Linden tried to lead her to some pretty obvious territory regarding her husband’s trustworthiness, but she just refused to see the similarities between their relationship and his relationship with Rosie. It was a sad scene to watch, especially since Holder and Linden both realized that they weren’t going to get a lot out of her.
The situation with the Larsen family just continues along its bumpy path. While Richmond is pushed into an encounter with Mitch at the grocery store, it turns into something far more personal for the both of them. It certainly is a credit to Richmond’s character that he refused to turn it into a political gain and that he saw the significant amount of pain that the family was in and used the opportunity to try and bring some comfort to Mitch. The remarkable thing is that it worked, to an extent. From the looks of things Mitch is beginning her long road to recovery.
On the other side of things though, Stan looks to be slowly but surely losing it. His grief is not only about losing Rosie, but the shattered dreams that it’s caused him and the financial stress that it’s causing him and his family. It’s an interesting and in my opinion realistic look at the different kinds of grief and that mothers and fathers deal with.
Ultimately, while the episode continues the high acting and writing standards of the past, this episode is the first that really begins to seem a little tired because of the emphasis on the political plotline. It will be interesting to see if that last scene of the episode, where Richmond is seen embracing Bennet, plays a bigger role as the season moves forward. It will also be up to the writers to integrate the campaign plot into the murder investigation right now, because as it currently stands it’s the far weaker of the two plots.