Entertainment Magazine

Review #2499: The Killing 1.6: “What You Have Left”

Posted on the 05 May 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: J.M.

Just when the show was beginning to slow, the writers take the opportunity and begin to throw the carefully emplaced pieces on the board together in some deliberate but nevertheless shocking ways, demonstrating again why “The Killing” is a cut above pretty much every other crime drama on television.

Review #2499: The Killing 1.6: “What You Have Left”

One of the things about slowly plotted shows is they give time for the writers to earn their payoffs. The common struggle with shows like “Law and Order” and “NCIS” is there isn’t a lot of opportunity to invest in the outlying characters, or to invest any sort of significance at all in anything other than the bare facts of the case presented to you, and the solution is some nice and pat trick that gives the main characters a chance to hit some nice one liners and everyone goes home to their bed and sleeps soundly at night. There are places for shows like that, but “The Killing” certainly challenges those types of shows in ways that I hadn’t really realized until this episode.

I’ve really been attached to Holder far more than I think many in the audience have. Something about the way Joel Kinnamen portrays him as a cop caught between the suit-and-tie world of homicide (which is noticeably absent from Linden’s wardrobe…just an observation) and the rough world of narcotics, where the lines are far blurrier. The single scene with The Man in the Suit, followed by his hilarious attempt at dressing to the part, all show a man trapped somewhere and he’s not sure what to do about it. Such character development for is remarkable for what is basically a secondary character.

This emphasis on character development isn’t just related to the characters themselves, but on their relationships to each other. We’ve gotten to see a lot from both the perspective of the Larsen family and the police investigation. We understand the grief that the family is going and the confusion about the loss of their daughter and how to deal with the destruction of what seemed to be the best years of their lives ahead of them. We also understand the need to be careful about legal matters, the ability to successfully prosecute suspects, seeing things from the bigger picture. So when there is conflict and mistrust between the family and the police, it is understandable from both sides.

The additional time also gives the writers time to communicate to the audience the hearts and minds of the characters. If the previous episode had been scrapped from the series, the actions that Stan takes would be robbed not only of their dramatic weight but that creeping dread that we would all feel would be lost. Watching Stan turn from the strong father who was trying to keep his family together as his wife fell apart to the man consumed with vengeance against the one who he believes ended the life of his child was a marvel to behold. That the writers would conceive of something like that and that Brent Sexton would have the acting capability to realistically portray that transformation is rather remarkable and a credit to a series that is willing to try something new, or at least something that isn’t regularly tried on television.

This strong characterization is only glaring because it shows just how weak and aimless the political campaign plot is. There is no reason for anyone to care about the political campaign. The seeds are there, from Richmond’s apparent connection about his wife’s murder and/or death that somehow links into the Larsen murder, to the odd connection with the campaign, but the distraction has been the actual campaign. It’s not that the potential isn’t there, but the characters on the political end of the show just aren’t as well defined or as memorable. There haven’t been any particularly glaring missteps, as my ratings should indicate, but the show’s been just short of the killing instinct, pardon the pun.

As for the case, I think it’s too early in the season for the real killer to be revealed, but boy does the evidence against the Ahmed’s look pretty damning. It will be interesting to see how everything gets explained, but both Bennet and the wife look pretty good for something at this point.

This show is starting to get a little frustrating. The murder investigation and the dealings with the Larsen family are extraordinarily good television, with excellent writing and acting all the way around. But the political campaign continues its listless and aimless direction.

Rating: 8/10


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