Even more so than more quickly paced crime series, it is extremely important to maintain focus when writing. It is far too easy to get sidetracked into plots and rabbit holes for the sake of ‘exploring the characters’ and the world of the show. It’s sad to say so, but that’s what has happened to The Killing in the last couple of episodes.
One of the most frustrating things in a show is when the characters are forced to do things to meet the need of the plot and keeping it from moving forward. What’s worse is when characters are forced to do something stupid to keep the show moving in the direction the plot is needed to go. That is what the writers have done to Linden. It was extremely frustrating to watch her suspect Holder of being the leak, even though it should be pretty clear to the viewers that Holder is the last person who has any motive of leaking the details of the investigation. All she had to go on were the repeated visits by what turned out to be his sponsor, and mysterious envelopes that he was receiving and giving. It was infuriating to watch, especially when the real source of the leak turned out to be her son.
Then there is her treatment of the Larsen family. It should be clear by now to anyone that the Larsens are feeling frustrated with the police and their lack of openness and honesty and progress with the investigation. Given that Stan nearly killed their main suspect, one would think that some sort of change should be made with the family: either bringing them closer into the investigation or trying to distance them from the details, keeping them from going after Bennet is some other poorly thought out attempt at revenge. The fact that no one seems concerned about how the Larsen’s are handling the knowledge of the prime suspect is just dumbfounding. While it does make at least some sense to link her poor handling of the case to the fact she ought to be wining and dining in Sonoma makes some sense, but the fact that NO ONE is calling her out on pretty much any of these issues or doing anything to resolve it is pretty frustrating.
This is in contrast to Mitch’s actions. Leaving her kids in the garage with the car running is really stupid, and looks really bad for her. But it is entirely within the bounds of her established inability to effectively deal with the grief of her murdered child. Her doing something that stupid works because it is in her character that the writers have established for her. It was still extremely frustrating to watch, but it was a different kind of frustration: watching someone descend down the spiral of depression and nearly killing others because of it and between lazy writing. This is even more frustrating because the organic evolution (or rather, devolution) of the Larsen’s relationship and the deterioration of their marriage in light of Rosie’s death is very well done. The scene where they took off the gloves and accused each other of essentially causing Rosie’s death was brutal and well-done, and within their established characters.
Which brings me to the inevitable conclusion that the writers have lost focus on the most important part of the series: “who killed Rosie Larsen?” There simply has not been enough actual investigation. The Larsen family and the political plot should be side plots to that investigation. Bringing in potential terrorist involvement and the heavy emphasis on the campaign for mayor without appropriate links to the investigation has brought the show away from its main plot. It might be forgivable if the writing was excellent, the characters interesting and plot intriguing. But none of these is the case. The writing is unsubtle, the characters becoming two-dimensional, and the plots boring. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was another show like Law and Order or any of the other criminal procedurals, but it’s clear that the focus for the last two episodes has been away from where the writing is the most compelling: the investigation into who killed Rosie Larsen.
It’s sad because it’s clear that the show has amazing potential, but the writers have tried to go too far and expand the scope too much. We’ll see how far this slump extends, but the given the ratings of the last two episodes, the writers had better do it quick lest they risk falling into a decline that they can’t pull themselves out of.