Saturday, November 10, 2012

Homicide: The Movie

The Review

Homicide: The Movie
Homicide: The Movie

Reviewed by Sparky Lightbulb on .

A movie for fans of the TV series

An assassination attempt on former Lt. Giardello [now a mayoral candidate] reunites the best of the Baltimore PD.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars ★★★★★

Do you remember the final season of Homicide: Life on the Street? It was so young. Perhaps this adjective comes to mind because of the set redesign. Fresh paint and new furniture replaced the shabby and worn—and in the Season 6 finale, blood stained and bullet ridden—squad room that we knew. Perhaps the departure of Det. Frank Pembleton [Andre Braugher], the one stable married man, and the introduction of the stunning and single Det. Rene Sheppard [Michael Michele], a pageant winner turned cop, contributed to this youthful atmosphere.

Or perhaps antics more appropriate to hormone-crazed teenagers than seasoned homicide detectives infused that last season with its immaturity. We did have Detectives John Munch [Richard Belzer] and Stuart Gharty [Peter Gerety] competing for the affections of Billie Lou [Ellie McElduff], the Waterfront barmaid. And then we watched Det. Laura Ballard [Callie Thorne] confess her crush on colleague Paul Falsone [Jon Seda], who, at first, had eyes only for the former pageant queen. When Det. Tim Bayliss [Kyle Secor] explored his bisexuality, bullying and ostracism, typical school ground behaviors, ensued. Lt. Giardello [Yaphet Kotto], empathetic to the youthful energy that filled the squad room, managed his detectives as would an affectionate teacher, and when situations required a more strict disciplinarian, Capt. Gaffney [Walt MacPherson] swaggered in, principal-style, to crush the fun.

If Season 7 [1998-99] resembled high school homeroom, then Homicide: The Movie [2000] is graduation. We recognize the significance of the occasion—that this is it—and so enjoy the opportunity to see all of our favorites one last time. But like the freedom and possibilities that await matriculating seniors, we are itching to abandon this cohort of characters and discover what’s next on the television horizon.

Kudos to writers Tom Fontana, Eric Overmyer, and James Yoshimura for concocting a story where dozens of Homicide characters can make reasonably logical appearances. The movie opens with our beloved Lt. Gee—now a mayoral candidate—gunned down during a campaign appearance. As news of the shooting spreads, we get to see our favorites interrupted in lives we don’t know—Stanley Bollander [Ned Beatty] having his first beer with breakfast, a bearded Bayliss fly fishing in a lonely stream, Pembleton lecturing college students on morality—all to Beck’s haunting and weird “Beautiful Way.”

A Homicide initiate would understand that Gee had amassed such loyalty and good will during his tenure with the Baltimore PD that detectives current, retired, fired—together with medical examiners and prosecutors—would rush to investigate the crime and punish his would-be assassin. But to a viewer unfamiliar with this world, the support Gee gets is illogical. A black politician who campaigns to make hard drugs—heroin and the like—legal gets law enforcement officers and prosecutors—many of whom are white—racing to his aid? In what universe? Try explaining those conditions to folks watching this investigation as their first introduction to the story and cast. Better to have named this “movie” Homicide: The Last, Long Episode, as it certainly doesn’t work as a stand-alone film.

But, really, this movie is for fans. And the writing and acting are often so good that a character’s full personality blooms after a few seconds of screen time. We see, for example, that Gharty, the cowardly patrolman inexplicably promoted to homicide detective, has now made the even more illogical leap to lieutenant, where he struggles to remain afloat on his own incompetence. So that we remember the racism that plagues Baltimore (or perhaps to see the new lieutenant's bad decision making), Gharty sends two black detectives, Sheppard and Lewis [Clark Johnson], to interview the white supremacists and the white Bolander and Munch to interview black suspects on the religious fringe. The hungry press allow Mike Giardello [Giancarlo Esposito] to go Italian hothead on unfortunate reporters wanting news of his father's condition, while former Capt. Megan Russert [Isabella Hofmann], the wise mother figure, drapes her arm around anyone needing comfort.

Sometimes, though, the conversation is a bit forced, like when medical examiners Drs. Cox [Michelle Forbes] and Griscom [Austin Pendleton] use their hospital visit to examine Gee’s wound and debate the caliber of weapon used. The Dr. Cox we know would have delivered a spot-on insight about life and death, or at least touched Gee’s hand, as their working relationship had demonstrated mutual respect and affection. But such are the little disappointments viewers can expect when the characters must pass the story like a baton as they sprint through the relay race to showcase seven years of cast.

Of course, the most important interaction—Bayliss’s rooftop confession to Pembleton—is the most disappointing. You can’t fault Braugher and Secor’s acting. They shout, gesture, cringe, and foam with real passion. But the words themselves are flat. The characters haven’t grown. Bayliss is still a little boy needing Pembleton to be the rigid disciplinarian. And with this scene—as we try to imagine how Bayliss and Pembleton will suffer once they climb down the stairs—we know it’s time to move on. The Homicide characters remain in a behavior loop that has grown tiresome and old.

And look at what was on the horizon! In two short years, David Simon would bring to life a Baltimore of more grit and id in The Wire, inarguably the best series in television history.

The cast of Homicide Michelle Forbes as Dr. Julianna Cox in Homicide

1 Scene

To Own the Movie

Homicide: The Movie is an easy [though expensive] purchase at Amazon US. One option is to buy a single disc. If you have collector issues, be careful that the seller is offering the movie release—if that's important to you—not a broken up Complete Series. Or you can purchase Homicide: Life on the Street—The Complete Series, which includes the movie together with all seven seasons.

Cross Post

This review exists at Amazon US.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 24

Special Message to Denny Larsen

Whose grilled cheese sandwiches do you prefer now, little guy?

Inappropriate Adjective

I should have been "horrified" by Rosie's "senseless" murder at the hands of the "despicable" Jamie Wright and Terry Marek, but the adjective that best describes my feelings during the season finale was "delighted."

At first I was smug as I watched Jamie acknowledge his involvement in Rosie's demise, but I wasn't satisfied. I had seen it coming, and his long confession was just as lame as I expected. The Jamie we knew would have turned Rosie over to Chief Jackson, who would have convinced our young Larsen that she didn't see or hear anything important, motivating the girl's silence with a wad of extra travel money. Our Jamie, the one with whom we had spent 25 episodes, wouldn't have resorted to violence when fast talk and deal-making could have gotten him through the situation successfully.

So I was smug—and a little disappointed—until we saw Linden poking an exploratory finger past the red tape on Terry's broken taillight—more like a trauma doctor examining a wound—and we realized that that taillight had been a beacon trying to illuminate the murderer for two whole seasons.

And unlike Jamie's unmotivated actions on the night Rosie died, Terry had from the very beginning proven to be a woman who made bad choices and expected things to come easy. And what would be easier than securing her spot beside Michael Ames—whose laundry I'll bet she had never folded—than drowning a "nobody" in a lake? That Jamie couldn't push that car into the water contradicts all of the violence we saw from him earlier in the episode. That Michael Ames couldn't push the car into the lake indicates the boundary where tolerating a nagging conscience isn't worth the financial reward of the bad behavior. It was a brilliant revelation of the murderer, and I was delighted by its unexpectedness and motivated plausibility.

Special Message to Terry

We're all somebody, Terry. You're old enough to know that.

Special Message to the Writers

How did Jamie get a bloody, unconscious girl out of a casino busy with patrons and staff with no cameras or witnesses spotting him? Even Chief Jackson would have stopped him before he got to the car!

Too Invested

TV characters have to do stupid, unmotivated things all of the time: psychiatrists have their unborn babies cut out of their bellies by crazy patients, waitresses keep horses on their apartment patios in New York City, or men risk flash-flood conditions to get tampons for their girlfriends. Usually, I don't care. It's TV, after all, not reality.

The Killing is the first show I have ever watched where I have been invested not only in the characters and story but also in an actress associated with the show. You know, I wanted to see Michelle Forbes score her second Emmy nomination. And when I watched, week after week, her character hobbled by pointless plot, I started focusing on inconsistencies in the series as a whole. These inconsistencies—things that I would have just shrugged off in another show—bothered me so much that they ruined my enjoyment in the second season.

If Mitch had been played by a different actress, I would have just used her scenes to leave the couch or zone for a couple of minutes before the action returned to the detectives. If I try to see things from the writers' perspective, I realize that they needed to get Mitch out of the house. For Terry's involvement in Rosie's murder to completely horrify us, we needed to see Terry entrenched in the Larsen home, helping to hold everything together. And to entrench her, we needed to get rid of the mom for the season. I don't understand why the writers couldn't have plotted a more interesting and revelatory adventure for Mitch, especially since the actress who brought this character to life had gained the series such positive attention in the first season. I guess Mitch's story had low priority as the writers tried to stretch the investigation over another full season.

If I Were in Charge

... I would never have told the audience that Rosie's killer would be revealed in the last episode of the second season. This knowledge ruined the suspense of early episodes because we knew Linden and Holder had to be pursuing just another bad lead.

... I would have solved Rosie's murder in fewer episodes. [Sorry, writers, it dragged a bit in Season 2.]

... I would have hired a continuity editor who made sure that new evidence fleshed out Rosie in a consistent and believable manner. Please explain to me how Jasper and Alexi both thought that Rosie hated her family when her little Super 8 production indicated that she loved them all very much?

... I would have either A) lost the flashback scenes in the finale [Eric Laden and Jamie Anne Allman are both good enough actors that by monologue alone they could have painted the events of that night], or B) had flashbacks as an opening or closing device from episode 1 [Katie Findlay was quite fun to see living].

... I would, though, renew the show. Linden and Holder are fresh and fascinating police, and we now know enough about the folks running the city to make any illegal activities these two cops encounter in the future all the more delicious. What new trouble can Chief Jackson get into? Who will fill Janek Kovarsky's place? Is Alexi about to go all young-wolf mobster, or is he on the run after executing the alpha? Will Gwen go over to the Dark Side like Darth Darren? And when is she going to let Darren know about the baby she's carrying?

Word Count

The number of words Mitch has spoken this season:

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words
"Keylela" = 0 words
"Off the Reservation" = 0 words
"Sayonara, Hiawatha" = 233 words
"72 Hours" = 0 words
"Bulldog" = 0 words
"Donnie or Marie" = 303 words
"What I Know" = 142 words

Grand total = 945 words
Until I get my lazy ass in gear and finish the review for Homicide: The Movie, it's sayonara, Hiawatha!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 23

With less than 45 minutes of story remaining, it looks like Jamie, Michael Ames, or Chief Jackson is our killer—I'm not sure why Linden and Holder are zeroing in on Jamie when they just watched three people take the elevator to the tenth floor. But what else will the season [series?] finale bring? Time for The Killing final exam!

Question 1

In the Season 2 finale, will Det. Holder rhyme "yo" with ...
  1. to jail you go, bro!
  2. we're going to hurt you slooooow.
  3. drowning that girl was low, ya know?
  4. if I have to kick Chief Jackson one more time, I'm gonna break a toe!

Question 2

Will Mitch reunite the Larsen family by ...
  1. applying for a spot on the reality TV show It's Me or the Dog?
  2. bribing the boys with a pet parrot and a set of nunchucks so that they prefer her grilled cheese sandwiches to Aunt Terry's?
  3. committing suicide and giving sister Terry a ready-made family whose laundry she can fold ad nauseam?
  4. agreeing with Stan to move to a new house where she can plant a butterfly garden in the backyard in Rosie's memory

Question 3

Will Gwen ...
  1. breathe a sigh of relief that Linden and Holder quit watching the security footage once they spot Jamie in the elevator, thus missing her arrival?
  2. offer a quick prayer of thanks when Mayor Adams drops dead from a heart attack?
  3. apologize to her father before her poor choices completely ruin her future in politics?
  4. finally confess that she is carrying Darren's baby?

Question 4

Will Jamie ...
  1. go quietly in handcuffs after Linden and Holder arrest him?
  2. convince Grandpa Wright to dump Darren in the trunk of another campaign car that they push into a different lake?
  3. note what good shape he must be in if, after chasing Rosie through the woods all night, he still had the energy to work out at the city hall gym at 4 the next morning?
  4. toss the handgun he found in a drawer at campaign headquarters to Darren, who blows the little punk away?

Question 5

Will Det. Linden ...
  1. wake up next to Rick in Sonoma, California, trying to clear the fog of a really, really bad dream?
  2. find herself unable to stop the bleeding from Holder's bullet wound?
  3. discover "Bob" written on the steamy mirror in Holder's bathroom?
  4. find herself doodling leafless trees on Rosie's case file?

Question 6

How many characters will die in the Season 2 finale?
  1. 0
  2. 1
  3. 2

Question 7

In the Season 2 finale, death(s) will occur by ... [Pick all that apply.]
  1. dog bite
  2. bullet
  3. heart attack
  4. asphyxiation from carbon monoxide

Question 8

Will we finally learn that Rosie ...
  1. worked for Jamie?
  2. slept with Jamie?
  3. played basketball with Jamie?
  4. maddened Jamie because she was the type of girl who ignored him in high school?

Question 9

Will Darren ...
  1. finally ask Linden, "How's my boy Jack?"
  2. lose the election by a handful of votes because Belko, Terry, and the Larsens never made it to their polling place?
  3. throw Gwen under the bus to save Jamie?
  4. win the mayoral race?

Question 10

At the conclusion of the Season 2 finale, will we find ourselves saying ...
  1. How cool and unexpected!
  2. Wow, the citizens of Seattle have really gotten screwed!
  3. Who knew a bulldog had such powerful jaws?
  4. No one would murder a girl for overhearing that!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 22

Special Message to Det. Holder

Come on! We need to get this case solved! A glazed donut? Could you please fuel your partner with something more nutritious! Linden has been conked on the head, held against her will, and drugged. The hospital fed her nothing but low quality carbs. The girl needs some protein, not a 5-minute sugar rush! A ham and egg sandwich would have done the job better.

Special Message to Alexi

Thank you for removing one viable suspect from the equation! And I'm digging this Larsen guardian angel thing you've got going on!

Special Message to Roberta Drays, Security Chief at the Wapi Eagle Casino

When will the bosses learn that they cannot count on our loyalty if they're going to crush our fingers in the door? I hope that you have information that will decimate Chief Jackson when the Feds return. Make that bitch pay!

Special Message to Chief Jackson

Oooo, girl, we just knew you liked it rough!

Special Message to Det. Linden

Look, I understand wanting to show off the city hall key card you scored to the elevator camera. But you lose the element of surprise when you flash what you found to the enemy. Now they have the opportunity to hide and/or fabricate other evidence before you return. Stop with the playground bravado and let's get this case solved!

What I'd Like to See Happen

If The Killing was just for me, I'd like to see three things happen:

Number One: I'd like the Larsens to see a glimmer of the happiness we saw in the very first episode of Season 1, before they learned that Rosie was even missing. On the one hand, the removal of Janek Kovarsky—and whatever debt he felt Stan still owed—gives me hope. But that "Bulldog" ended with Mitch sitting in what seemed like severe depression in the darkened kitchen, her "adventure"—as far as the audience knows—having resolved nothing, does not bode well. Still, if The Killing was just for me, I'd have the writers fix it my way.

Number Two: I want Darren to win the election. With less than 24 hours before the polls open and his two campaign managers now under suspicion, I'm not sure how that will happen. And even if it did, Republicans would be organizing a recall vote the next day if a suicidal victor with a murderer on staff won the office. Even so, I want Darren to win, although real life would give the victory to Mayor Adams.

Number Three: I'd love to see Linden in a position where she has the time to select a sandwich made with turkey breast on whole wheat over the "surprise" Holder has in the take-out bag, the sense to return to Nicorette instead of a cigarette, and the option of a real bed over the front seat of her squad car.

Gwen vs. Jamie

First, we're running out of time for any more false leads. Plus, Veena Sud has practically announced that the murderer is either Gwen or Jamie. [Thanks for ruining yet another surprise, Ms. Sud!] I don't think Gwen ever really got her bad girl on until this episode when she blackmails her father, so I don't see her capable of drowning a teenaged girl three weeks earlier. My money is still on Jamie "Win at Any Cost" Wright.

Word Count

The number of words Mitch has spoken this season:

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words
"Keylela" = 0 words
"Off the Reservation" = 0 words
"Sayonara, Hiawatha" = 233 words
"72 Hours" = 0 words
"Bulldog" = 0 words [An appearance, but, alas, not even a "Stan, I ..."]

Grand total = 500 words

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 21

Never Loses Suction

If I had to create an analogy for Det. Linden, I would definitely equate her with a vacuum cleaner. That girl can suck us in to her analyses of situations. Right now, we all believe that Rosie was planning to run away the night she died, her stop at the casino one long last look at the Seattle skyline.

Hmmm. Rosie had a school book bag with a couple pieces of clothing. Compare that to the duffel bag of laundry that Little Red Riding Pants, a real runaway, carried. Rosie had a clunky Super 8 camera with her. Really, who runs away with that kind of equipment? She had her casino wages to purchase something more convenient if she really wanted to record her adventure. And now Stan thinks her late-night visit to Bennet was to say goodbye? Because high school teachers just let young, naive, unconfident teenaged girls hit the road without trying to stop them?

No, I now think Linden—and Stan and Mitch—have been sucked into another misinformed analysis of Rosie's behavior. Rosie had what, enough clothes for a sleepover? She had, we think, a friendship with Mary, a reservation inhabitant. Did Mary confess everything she knew in that barbershop interrogation with Linden? Were Rosie and Mary spending the weekend together, playing investigative reporter in a situation that was way over their heads?

And do you really kill someone who catches you disturbing an ancient Native American graveyard? Would Rosie have understood the significance of exhuming some bones? Would anyone have needed to do more than take the camera and smash it? It's not as if she could 4G footage up to YouTube before they got the device out of her hands! Linden has just successfully trapped us in her Dysonality again.

Special Message to Det. Linden

Wow. Really, your fiancé Rick Felder is a shrink, someone with an understanding of the fragility of the human spirit? And he let you, despite what he knew about your past mental condition, keep Jack instead of taking responsibility as an impending step-dad and getting your son settled in Sonoma while you finished work on this case? You are better off without him!

What Got Rosie Larsen Killed

Let's say that Rosie did do, see, or overhear something on the tenth floor that got her killed. Did she ...
  1. End her lesbian tryst with the jealous Mary—who is, believe it or not, on the suspect tracker—to date Alexi exclusively?
  2. Catch Chief Jackson French kissing Security Chief Roberta Drays?
  3. See Chief Jackson, in dominatrix black leather, whipping the naked backside of Mayor Adams, handcuffed to a load-bearing strut?
  4. Record the autopsy of a Sasquatch shot in the woods?
  5. Overhear Chief Jackson ask Mayor Adams to dress as a Sasquatch for their next S&M session?

The Last Misdirect

The only thing that can lift Darren's campaign out of its 7-point deficit is news that Mayor Adams did something both illegal and really sleazy. But I don't really think anyone from the casino or the mayor's office killed Rosie. Chief Jackson certainly wouldn't chase Rosie; she has a whole loyal gang to do that kind of work for her. And even if she did send her security chief after the girl, Roberta would have buried the body deep in the woods, not have gone to the trouble of stealing a campaign car from the Richmond headquarters and sinking it in a pond. Chief Jackson was trying to negotiate with Darren just an episode ago. If she considered our councilman potentially useful, she wouldn't frame him for Rosie's death. Plus, political correctness dictates that Hollywood not contribute to the old stereotype that "Injuns" are out to harm white folk.

Mayor Adams is too old to chase down Rosie, and his campaign director, Benjamin Abani, who does look fit enough, is also the wrong race. Rosie's killer will be a white guy on the suspect tracker.

Sure, Chief Jackson and the mayor might be out to screw the citizens of Seattle for their own benefit, but in TV-logic, I just don't see them killing that girl.

Mitch's Fate

So Stan alludes to Terry that something was wrong at home even before Rosie's death. I'm not sure this information fits that lovely scene in the very first episode of Season 1 when Stan arrives to fix the broken dishwasher. Can a couple share the kind of humor and warmth we saw in our introduction to the Larsens if the wife is depressed, close to a mental break, or miserable with how her life is turning out? I think such a woman would have behaved quite differently to a flooded kitchen, certainly not inviting Stan to a little afternoon delight on the wet floor. Although Mitch's adventure might still provide an important insight that helps solve Rosie's murder, my hope is waning that anything good will come from her storyline. So I'm wondering if our last look at Mitch this season will have her ...
  1. Arriving home with a takeout bag from KFC
  2. Identifying Little Red Riding Pants in a police line up
  3. Standing in a California field in a swarm of migrating monarch butterflies
  4. Intentionally driving her car off a bridge or embankment into the water below—while Nirvana's "Come on Death" plays from the radio

Word Count

The number of words Mitch has spoken this season:

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words
"Keylela" = 0 words
"Off the Reservation" = 0 words
"Sayonara, Hiawatha" = 233 words
"72 Hours" = 0 words
Grand total = 500 words

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 20

I love the characters of AMC's The Killing. I love the actors who have brought them all to life. But for almost all of Season 2, in every storyline except for Stan and the boys, I find myself asking "WTF?" or rolling my eyes and saying, "That is not plausible!" or, worse yet [as I am a terrible fiction writer], rewriting scenes in my head to improve them. I do not feel swept into the story this season; I dread rather than anticipate my obligation on Sunday evenings.


Gil, a cop with shady things to hide, would not need or choose to use a detachable navigation system that recorded his every move in a city that he should know, as a result of his profession, like the back of his hand. Please. Linden should have pocketed that casino key during a moment of distraction while Lt. Carlson was suspending her at the police station. A demonstration of the shoplifting skills that she would have had the time and motivation to perfect as a runaway teenager would have made more sense. Then we wouldn't have had to listen to Holder's contrived oh-wait-I-know-this-restaurant-oh-wait-there's-a-storage-facility-in-back recognition of the location.

That Is Not Plausible!

Rosie was planning to drop out of school and run away? Rosie was taking secret 4-hour bus trips to see her biological father? Rosie hadn't been communicating with her parents for months? Who is this girl? I hate that the writers are asking us to forget everything that we know about Rosie and her family. Remember, Rosie was too shy to speak to her teacher, resorting to a penpal relationship with Bennet, too unsure to have sex with her boyfriend. But now we are to believe that she is Ms. Adventure ready to leave loving parents, clean clothes, clean sheets, a clean bathroom, to see the world with casino wages that will get stolen after a day or two on the road?

Sure, like we hear about that happening all the time—every day it's another story about a 17 year old who has left a stable home, SAT preparation, and afternoon bike rides with little brothers! And please, what teenager would lug around a heavy Super 8 camera for the adventure? You don't think Alexi with his illegal connections wouldn't have gotten her a good deal on a smaller, lighter, more convenient way to capture the trip, something that would have allowed her to upload right to a Facebook, Flickr, or Blogger account? [Really, Alexi, what kind of a boyfriend were you, making that poor girl go to a drugstore to have film developed?]


So in the middle of the day, Mitch goes to see David Ranier, Rosie's biological father and Mitch's initiator into Seattle grunge. We know it's the work week because Tommy was stomping baby birds to death in the school yard. Conveniently, though, David is home and ready to confess that when a strange 17 year old arrives on his doorstep, he advises her that before she disappears, she should at least let people know that she's running away. Oh, please. What is he, a pot dealer generating income from a basement grow house? Come on! Real adults just don't advise strange teenagers to behave like that. And dumb-ass adults who would recommend that Rosie run away don't live in perfect houses in family neighborhoods.

This scene would have been so much more powerful if David's wife was glaring from the sidelines, if David's dark-haired daughter came up to Mitch with dolls and announced, "Rosie and I played with these!" or if the wife had gotten Mitch alone for a minute to explain that she had tried to convince her husband to call the Larsens and tell them Rosie's plans. This scene would have been so much more powerful if Mitch had whispered fiercely, "You could have told her to finish her college applications instead!" Because, you know, David probably paid for that fine house with the type of gainful employment that requires a college degree.

My Guess

So I have finished "cheating" and have seen all of Forbrydelsen. And as I've said, it's like seeing a copy of the test before the exam. You know what the questions will be, but you still have to figure out the right answers.

At this point, I don't really care who killed Rosie. Last season, she seemed like a real person, and I enjoyed learning bits and pieces about her life as the investigation unfolded. I thought she was a cool kid and wanted justice for her. This season, she is just a pawn the writers are pushing around, trying to get us to buy into whatever contrived ending they have fabricated. So since I don't care any longer, let me take a guess.

Nanna Birk Larsen, Rosie's equivalent, died at the hands of someone who, as a result of changes the writers have made, cannot be the killer in the US version of the story. That's okay because the revelation of the Danish killer was not satisfying. He had to make a long speech in the last episode explaining what happened and why he did it. I was yelling, "That's not motivated!" at the TV screen the entire time.

I assume that we won't be satisfied with Rosie's killer either. I assume that he, too, will have to make an unsatisfying speech to explain his behavior. If The Killing uses Forbrydelsen as inspiration for the revelation, then Jamie is the killer. What, you say, sweet Jamie who doesn't even touch alcohol? He couldn't possibly be the killer! Well, that's exactly how I felt about the murderer at the end of Forbrydelsen. No way! He [I'm trying not to ruin it if you haven't seen it] couldn't have sat at the Birk Larsens' dining table just a few minutes ago without a single guilty twitch if he had been the one to rape, beat, and drown Nanna [Nanna is savaged in Forbrydelsen].

So back to Jamie, remember that he plays to win.

My guess is that something like this happened: Jamie has known about and covered for Darren's sexual dalliances the ten years that they've worked together. Jamie hears—maybe from Benjamin Abani, his counterpart in the mayor's office [I never really understood their fight at the gym]—that Darren has accidentally killed a young woman during sex. Jamie arrives to find a "dead" Rosie. Jamie assumes that Darren did in fact kill her and, wanting to cover for his boss, disposes of the "body," not realizing that Rosie is in fact alive. Because Jamie pushes the car into the water, he is technically her killer—although I assume that someone from this tiresome casino storyline chased her through the woods, knocked her unconscious, and tied her up.

I'm picking Jamie because Morten Weber, his counterpart in Forbrydelsen, did believe that Troels Hartman, the idealistic Danish politician, had killed Nanna and then covered for his boss, jeopardizing the investigation. What would be a really cool ending is if Jamie isn't arrested [Morten, as a precedent, never faces consequences]. Darren and the audience discover that Jamie is the killer but someone else pays, maybe someone who looks guilty but dies before we know for sure. Darren has to live with the fact that Jamie thought he was capable of killing but still wanted to see him elected mayor.

If I'm wrong, then I'm looking forward to seeing if my ending isn't better than what the writers have dreamt up. [I don't currently have a lot of faith in the writers.]

Word Count

The number of words Mitch has spoken this season:

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words
"Keylela" = 0 words
"Off the Reservation" = 0 words
"Sayonara, Hiawatha" = 233 words

Grand total = 500 words even—Wow, I guess we won't get to see Mitch again until the season finale since she nearly doubled her dialog in "Sayonara, Hiawatha."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 19

The Truth Is Out There

Why is it that every time Linden is screaming for her partner, I hear "Mulder," not "Holder"? It must be all of those flashlights bouncing around in dark, wet woods. Will we discover the frozen remains of an extraterrestrial on the tenth floor of the casino hotel? Are NASA engineers dismantling a UFO behind the locked door? Did the case that caused Linden's first mental break end with a young child abducted by intergalactic visitors while Linden watched helplessly, her arm shielding her eyes from the faster-than-light propulsion system on the space craft?

Have It Your Way

Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden and Q'orianka Kilchner as Mary
Why would Rosie scrub toilets with skin-blistering chemicals? If she wanted low paying service work, why bother with the long ferry commute? I'm certain a McDonald's or Burger King was within biking distance of home!

And why would Rosie bother depositing her under-the-table cash wages into a bank account? Interest rates are currently so low, saving isn't worth the trouble—unless Tommy and Denny were little thieves pilfering her cash to buy candy and video games. She should have just kept the money in the sock drawer in her bedroom.

Was Rosie really a maid/waitress working for Chief Jackson? Or should we doubt even that piece of information about our murder victim? All the chair twirling and those evasive eyes don't make Mary a believable witness!

Business Sense

Why would Stan, someone who must have spent his entire working life dealing with people who tried to get more work out of the moving company than the initial estimate allowed, not know that $12K of reward money would lure out the crackpots and crazies?

Although the scene with a woman ready to break out a crystal ball to contact dead Rosie in the spirit world was heartbreaking, Stan's willingness to entertain this type of person seemed more a plot device than real character development. The writers just needed motivation for him to ignore the blinking light on the answering machine once he got home. So who left the message, Terry or Mitch?

Super Powers

How does Holder, beaten so badly that he can't save himself from death from exposure, manage to get to the airport where Linden is putting Jack on a plane to Chicago? At the hospital, I didn't even see a saline drip for rehydration in his arm!

You Can Fix Anything with a Pregnancy

When Gwen said, "I'm late [long pause] for a meeting at the ad agency ...," was she about to admit that she's pregnant with Darren's baby!?!

Word Count

The number of words Mitch has spoken this season:

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words
"Keylela" = 0 words
"Off the Reservation" = 0 words

Grand total = 267 words—If words were pennies, I made more money in savings account interest this month than we heard dialog from Mitch. We do have a new picture for tomorrow's episode, so I guess I'll be counting words for next week's post. It looks as though Mitch hasn't yet had to pawn her wedding ring for gas and snack money!

Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 18

Didn't You Expect ...

When Sterling returned Rosie's locker contents to Stan, didn't you expect them both to look up to find Mitch standing in the doorway, tears in her eyes?

And when Gwen and Jamie offer a reduction of Stan's impending prison sentence in return for his reading a statement exonerating Richmond, didn't you expect all three of them to look up to find Mitch standing in the doorway, her face flashing with anger?

And then when Stan learns of Terry's involvement in Beau Soleil and throws her out of the house, didn't you expect to find that Mitch had heard the whole confession, magnifying the horror of Terry's behavior?

Or even when Richmond himself visits Stan, didn't you expect to see Mitch's fingers curl around the handlebars of the wheelchair as she leaned down to offer a push inside? [Well, no, even I didn't expect that, but it would have been nice if Mitch had made the appearance.]

But really, when Stan goes off script at the press conference, didn't you expect to transition to a television which, as the camera pulled back, revealed Mitch listening to her husband getting all passionate about justice for his dead daughter? That time, I really did expect to see her.

Special Message to Jack

Look, if you're going to engineer the escape from child protective services, then you should be high-fiving its success with your mother, not curling up in a fetal position and pouting in the passenger seat as the two of you speed away.

I Got a Bad Feeling

I am worried about Holder surviving the beating at the casino. You see, despite my promise to myself, I am watching Forbrydelsen before The Killing has officially ended. It's like getting the test questions in advance of an exam. All I can say is that I was so worried about Mitch that I just had to see if a similar meltdown had happened to her Danish counterpart, Pernille. [If you're worried too, I'll let you know that like Mitch, Pernille beds a businessman that she picks up at a hotel, and Theis, the Stan character, gets robbed by some young thugs as he wanders Copenhagen in a drunken stupor. So Mitch's troubling behavior is not straying too far from the original story.]

Jan Meyer, Stephen Holder's original incarnation, is still alive [and finally likable] by episode 15 [where I currently am], but having visited the Forbrydelsen IMDB page, I notice that Meyer appears in only 19 of the 20 episodes and is not part of the second season. Yikes. I hope they're both okay. I love Holder, and I'm starting to develop some fondness for Meyer. Having to deal with the deaths of both this coming week would be hard.

Word Count

The number of words Mitch has spoken this season:

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words
"Keylela" = 0 words

Grand total = 267 words—If words were dollars, we'd be stalled worse than Max and Caroline trying to save enough money to launch their cupcake business!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 17

Oh, Writers!

Terry's breakup with Michael Ames was lame. So was her explanation of their deep and meaningful "connection" when Linden and Holder interviewed her yet again. Plus, for us to buy Jasper's confrontation with his father, we first needed a scene showing what Mrs. Ames or Rosie meant to this self-absorbed young man. Otherwise, Jasper doesn't really have a reason to leave his champagne-soaked skip day to track down Dad, a man not afraid to use his fists.

But I do want to compliment you for a couple of zingers that made this episode bearable. I loved when Holder announces, "Yo, you're, like, becoming A Beautiful Mind with that board, Linden," and when Gwen tells Darren, "Well, call me if [Jamie] tries to breastfeed you."

Thanks, Jasper!

Despite their interview with you, I think the cops still believe that Rosie was a prostitute—or at least sleeping with someone too old and too powerful for her. Oh, well. They'll come around eventually. I do want to thank you, though, for inspiring my new favorite catchphrase, virgin dork, a descriptor for unsophisticated teenage bling. You know, pink, rhinestones, butterflies. "Oh, I can't wear that shirt. The color is too virgin dork" or "Oh, that print won't work with your décor! It's virgin dork!" I have a feeling I'll be using the expression all summer.

Hey, Linden!

When you asked Stan if he had had any problems with Rosie the months before her murder, and he answered, "Me and Rosie were always good," your next question should have been, "What kind of problems was she having with Mitch?" Come on, let's get this thing solved! Even I am losing patience!

And another thing, I assume that even cheap motels have a cleaning staff, so before you get all spooked about a picture on the refrigerator, consider for just a moment that housekeeping might have innocently stuck it on the freezer door, thinking that you wouldn't want your kid's artwork lost under the bed or ruined by a bucket of melting ice. The poor maid wouldn't have known the significance of that crayon drawing!

You know, I was so disappointed in the contents of Mitch's box, that I don't really care what's in your personnel file. But I'll bet we get a whole episode about your past meltdown before this season is over!

Yo, Mitch!

Chelsea Ricketts as Tina [Little Red Riding Pants] and Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen on The KillingRosie was a good kid. She was smart. She had good priorities for a teenager. She was an artist who could see things differently. If she had lived, her palette would have expanded beyond pink. You're not going to find answers or forgiveness from Little Red Riding Pants, who obviously did not grow up in the relatively sane and stable Larsen home and probably has good reason—an abusive step-father or an alcoholic mother—not to call home.

A girl who threatens teachers with lies about sexual harassment, who believes one poorly executed pirouette qualifies her for the Cincinnati ballet, and who robs you blind is severely damaged. She is not your Rosie!

I'm sorry that your youth as an environmental activist metamorphosed into wife and mother, but your letter to Rosie's father indicates that you made a conscious decision to follow the homemaker path. So call Stan. He can settle the motel bill and gas up the station wagon. Get on home. We need that big confrontation with Terry that has been brewing since last season.

Word Count

How many words of dialog has Mitch spoken in Season 2?

"Reflections" = 0 words
"My Lucky Day" = 0 words
"Numb" = 22 words
"Ogi Jun" = 0 words
"Ghosts of the Past" = 108 words
"Opening" = 137 words

Grand total = 267 words, not enough for even a freshman composition!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 16

The Kiss

What do we know about Stan? He's a doer, not a talker. Time and time again, we've watched him act without hesitation or concern for the consequences. Need information about Rosie's whereabouts? Grab her ex-boyfriend by the throat. Want to get the family on track? Pack up your dead daughter's room and erase her existence from the house. Cops not getting you justice quickly enough? Kidnap the suspect they're considering and bash out his brains. That Stan went seeking intimacy with the resident adult female fits the instinctual impulses that compel him.

I am not judging you, Papa Bear. If life and its complications had gotten as rough on Roseanne, Dan Conner might have looked for comfort in Jackie's arms. [Ew.]

I do wish AMC would plug the leaks about what's to come. I didn't like learning that Rosie's murder would be solved at the end of the second season. And I don't like knowing, even before the next episode airs, that the kiss is as far as the Stan-Terry connection goes.

Special Message to Mitch

I understood a road trip to, as my father puts it, "blow the cobwebs out." But you're not traveling, are you? You're just parked at that motel. Are you waiting for someone?

Now let's talk about Little Red Riding Pants. On the one hand, you were creeping me out stuffing her with all that sugar. I kept flashing to the blind witch in the woods fattening up lost children before she roasts them in the oven. Your easy fictions about your family made me question where your mind is.

On the other hand, though, you know better than to give a desperate runaway with a big, impulsive boyfriend the number of your room at a poorly maintained motel. Yeah, make it easy for the two of them to rob you! And this is TV, so you won't come back to a room in disarray. Oh, no. We'll have to watch Little Red Riding Pants first trick you into opening the door and then her boyfriend knock you to the carpet, demanding to know where the money is. Should such violence occur, I hope that they shake out that damn box you brought with you so that we finally learn what's inside.

The Box, Again

What's inside Mitch's mysterious box?
  1. Terry's love letters to Stan
  2. X's love letters to Mitch [X = Rosie's biological father]
  3. Art supplies
  4. Dead, crispy monarch butterflies
  5. A gun

Special Message to Alexi

What kind of a boyfriend are you? You can track Stan like a hunter after a bear, but you didn't bother to sneak onto the ferry to discover what Rosie was doing? Shame on you!

I'll Have the Fish, Please

I think I preferred last season's string of red herrings to Season 2's endless look at how parents mess up their children. I have sympathy for Det. Linden and Alexi because of their experiences in child protective services. That Jasper has to contend with an abusive father makes me dislike him a little less.

But I don't understand Jack's father being upset with his son's care. Det. Linden has not been ignoring Jack for the 14 months that The Killing has existed, just the 2 ½ weeks of Killing time, and for much of that, Jack was under Regi's care. I am sorry that Terry doesn't get the same kind of approval from her parents that Mitch does, but Terry is an adult, and her parents aren't to blame for her own bad choices.

And we can't forget Rosie's bedroom. A teenager truly unhappy with her family would have decorated the walls with celebrities who offered fantasy escapes from her horrible existence. But Rosie chose pictures of family and friends, indicating that she had a good home life. So why would Rosie have a problem with Stan not being her biological father? And why would her good mother abandon the still living children so callously? The explanations had better be worth it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 15

Shaking the Box

Seldom do I play with the online extras for my favorite TV shows. A series should stand on its own, and I should get everything I need from the actual episodes. If in The Killing, for example, a real clue about Rosie's murder existed exclusively in the interactive version of her bedroom, I'd feel cheated as a viewer of the show.

But that box that Mitch has in "Numb" is so enticing that I finally visited the bedroom to see if I could spot it among Rosie's possessions. This interactive feature appears to capture the bedroom that existed before the family realized Rosie was dead. Bennet's letter is still hidden in the globe; a worried message from Sterling is still on the phone.

I can't find the box anywhere—although Rosie wasn't the neatest teenager, and it could lie beneath the heap of clothes on the floor, under the bed, or in one of the drawers that, despite my insistent clicking, won't open.

The contents must be important and not necessarily Rosie's. All we can do is wait and wait until "Christmas" arrives and pray that, once the lid comes off, the box doesn't contain yet another bulky sweater so many of the female cast seem to favor.

Taking Inventory

How many situations have rocked Stan and the boys' world since Mitch left? Well, if Mitch is avoiding TV news, she doesn't know that her husband's best friend tried to assassinate Councilman Richmond and then was himself gunned down. She missed the delivery of Rosie's bloody book bag. She's unaware that her surviving children are freaking out and, despite his impressive size and baseball bat, Stan himself is fearful enough to arrange mob protection with its considerable debt to Kovarsky. And can't you imagine the earful that Detectives Linden and Holder would get if Mitch knew that they suspected her daughter of prostitution!

With all of this additional stress in Stan's life, you would think that he would need his helpmate, but Stan seems unconcerned with Mitch's absence and sympathetic to her need to vanish. Obviously, he knows something about his wife that we don't. Now what could that be?

Special Message to Gwen

Okay, you surprised me and made your flight to DC. Now get back to Seattle, girlfriend! As your phone call to Jamie revealed, you are so obviously not over Darren.

If last season we wallowed in the Larsens' grief, then this season we're immersed in your boyfriend's paralysis. People, in general, avert their eyes when they spot folks in wheelchairs because that complete loss of mobility and sensation is so horrifying. We think to ourselves, "No, please, not that for me. Please."

It's hard wanting to avert my eyes through one third of an episode every Sunday evening, so we need that boy back on the campaign trail. We need a feel-good moment! Mayor Adams needs to pay for making Darren look guilty for Rosie's death and inspiring Belko's meltdown. You can help. Book a seat back to Seattle now!

Special Message to Det. Linden

You have now spent enough time on this case to realize that the murderer won't be a typical suspect. As you and Holder go chasing after Alexi Giffords, please realize that he is just a boy who got his heart stomped by a pretty young thing, not someone who has the brains or power to pull together the three threads of The Killing. The pencil slashes on Rosie's portrait are not Alexi anticipating revenge against Stan for his father's death; no, those slashes are just a young man trying to erase his feelings for the woman who wouldn't reciprocate.

I've avoided calling you incompetent because I understand that the audience has more information than you do since we get insight into the other characters' lives when you're not present. But lately I'm beginning to worry that all the wrong trees you've barked up, all the blind alleys you've gone down will so destroy the Larsen family that Stan will end up jailed [scenes keep foreshadowing him caged], Terry dead, Mitch who-knows-where, and the Tommy and Denny in foster care getting initiated into your experiences as a child!

Rosie was depositing money into her aunt's account. Maybe Terry didn't know that Rosie was the person making those deposits, but she certainly benefitted from the money appearing. Please go question Terry more carefully!

Special Message to Jasper Ames

Skulk all you want in the background, your face pinched and your brow knitted. We're not biting that the detectives overlooked you as Rosie's real murderer. Your father, on the other hand, has had our attention for quite a while. Do you have something to share that the police should know? You don't strike me as the kind of morally upright young man who would risk losing the perks of his father's wealth to help get justice for Rosie. Surprise us! Spill what you know!

Michelle Forbes on Mitch Larsen

Need more Mitch than AMC is providing on The Killing this season? Try this very short interview at YouTube:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Killing :: First Thoughts :: Night 14

When Will We Learn?

How often has The Killing fooled us because we so willingly embrace stereotypes? Last season, we jumped on Jasper as Rosie's killer because, well, all wealthy young people are sexually depraved. Doesn't everyone remember the Paris Hilton sex tape? Then we jumped on Bennet, the high school English teacher, because, hey, all public school employees are perverts preying on our children. Didn't an LA teacher just get arrested for feeding semen-glazed cookies to his elementary students? Next, we jumped on Councilman Richmond because, you know, all politicians are promiscuous sleazebags who operate above the law. We can just ignore the thousands of elected officials who do their jobs without becoming household names for inappropriate acts. And at the end of the first season, when we overheard Holder thanking the mysterious stranger for the photo, we jumped to the wrong conclusion about our lovable detective because, gosh, all junkies are untrustworthy—that's why we don't want that rehab facility built in our neighborhood.

But then the writers cleared all these men of the suspicions we harbored. We learned, after that vicious slap from Mr. Ames, that Jasper was himself a victim, not the victimizer. And we discovered that Bennet was operating from high moral [if not legal] principles as he hustled a living girl out of his apartment the night Rosie died. Councilman Richmond might have bought himself a hooker, but he is, we remember, unmarried, and when the news breaks, he won't have to ask a wife to make that stand-by-her-man appearance beside the confessional podium as he apologizes to his constituents for the indiscretion. And Holder, we find out, was just an unsuspecting go-between, not entrenched in the conspiracy to discredit the councilman.

Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen in The Killing
So in this new season, the writers are going after the girls. We are still convinced that Rosie is a prostitute because, c'mon, all teenage girls are sluts. And now we've watched mother Mitch bed a textbook rep to reinforce the idea that apple Rosie hasn't fallen far from the family tree. [Well, we didn't actually watch the sex happen, and we should have learned from previous episodes not to trust what we don't see, but there was the more relaxed drag on the cigarette as she stares out at the motel pool ...]

Are we going to fall for these stereotypes too? I am absolutely convinced that Rosie was not a prostitute. Did we see her profile getting erased at the end of "Numb"? No. I also don't think that Kovarsky lied to Stan. I do believe that Kovarsky burned down the shoe store and destroyed the evidence of Beau Soleil's existence. You hire the mob for that kind of job! I'm sure that the councilman wasn't the only high-profile member of Seattle society who would have frequented the service but wouldn't want that fact revealed—and would have the money to disappear the business. But I am also sure that Kovarsky shared the truth with Stan and didn't, despite his high ranking this week on the Suspect Tracker, kill Rosie.

Veena Sud identifies with Rosie! So Ms. Sud is not going to have had our murder victim sneaking off to earn extra cash hooking so that the girl could buy more butterfly stickers! Something else got Rosie in trouble.

Off the Path

Since this episode began with Mitch's first glance of Little Red Riding Pants hitchhiking on the side of the road [way off the route her mother would have advised], let's take a detour ourselves from some common assumptions.

We assume that the box Mitch has brought with her is Rosie's, but is it? Rosie liked her possessions pink and emblazoned with butterflies. Could that box belong to Terry instead? Does its travel motif have any connection to the shirt Terry was wearing in "Numb," the one sporting the names of major world cities? Did Mitch discover why Rosie was depositing money into Terry's account?

Or does the box belong to Mitch herself? Has Rosie's death reawakened a life that Mitch could have had if she hadn't gotten pregnant with Rosie? Does Little Red Riding Pants remind Mitch not of Rosie but of herself at that age?

And what about that tattoo? We're not getting another pink Grand Canyon T-shirt confusion, are we? Apparently, Ogi Jun is a Killing creation. So how popular is the character in this fictionalized Seattle? Is he the tattoo to have? Is Stan's beefy moving guy [Rosie's type?] just one of many men getting inked with this character?

Special Message to Gwen

We expect you to board a plane to DC about as much as we expected Linden ever to make her flight to California. You now know that Darren didn't kill Rosie. Maybe he can explain the Beau Soleil account. Give him a chance! You had five pictures in the Season 2 cast gallery, so we know that we're not going to lose you this soon into the new season!

Special Message to Det. Holder

Look, your partner is going to need your help to solve this crime. You're a smart guy. We all cheered when you handed off the wrong book bag to the evidence lab. But as you and Linden get closer to the truth, the enemy will want to take you out, and there's no better way than to have you arrested for drug possession. So please throw out the meth you stashed in the car astray! I'm begging you!

Special Message to Councilman Richmond

Billy Campbell as Councilman Darren Richmond, The Killing
I just discovered a new photo of you in the cast gallery. And in this one you're standing! Look, I don't want anyone to remain paralyzed. But I loved the realistic way the writers handled your denial of your condition in "Numb": how a hot nurse handling your penis during the catheter change didn't register, how you "felt" the doctor's touch when he didn't have a hand on you, how you began to accept after sticking yourself with the campaign button pin. All of those scenes did an amazing job communicating the horror of your paralysis. If, however, you miraculously regain feeling, then I'm going to feel betrayed because I don't think that's the reality for most people whose spines get severed. I can't imagine how a real paralyzed viewer will feel by this flight of fantasy. Here's hoping that we get another explanation for why you're upright in the new photo.