I’ve never seen a show quite like The Killing. The worst part about my typing that sentence is that, should Veena Sud ever read it (which she might not, because it’s on the Internet and she doesn’t really know how the Internet works), she will smile because she believes it to be a compliment. Stop smiling, Veena.
In what may well be its final episode, we finally meet the girl whom all the fuss has been about. No, I don’t mean Mayor Richmond’s sister, although I can understand why you’d think that. I’m talking about the other girl: Rosie Larsen.
Many, many minutes were spent this season trying to convince us that there was more to Rosie than the innocent, carefree teenager from that first long-ago school video. We were introduced to her secret boyfriend Alexi, the orphaned son of a mobster Stan murdered and stuffed in a trunk. We were told Rosie found out Stan wasn’t her real father and was pissed. For at least half the show, the idea of Rosie being a high-priced escort was dangled in front of us, and even after that was debunked by Pocahontas (which I am choosing to call Q’oriana Kilcher not because I’m terrible or even because I’m trying to do a weak impression of Holder, but because that is the part she played in the Terrence Malick film The New World, in which she was a three-dimensional character), we still were led to believe that Rosie was at least a little bit sexually adventurous. When Jasper said that Rosie was a virgin, we were supposed to think that he didn’t know what he was talking about, right? Even though we long ago accepted the fact that Jasper’s mouth is so sneer-shaped that he probably came out of the womb like that, the show definitely still led us to believe, every step of the way, that like Laura Palmer, Rosie Larsen led a dark double life.
But now that we see her, she seems as adorable and undamaged as can be. Her hobbies include tickling her brothers, Rod and Tod, and shooting sly looks over at her aunt Terry that say, "Isn’t it cool that we’re the only ones who know that I’m secretly a casino maid and you’re secretly a prostitute?" The family is full of smiles. Even the Seattle rain didn’t seem to start falling until Rosie died; shafts of bright sunlight stream through the windows.
Less than five minutes into the episode, we get our first mystery solved. Rosie really did look at Stan through his office window before she left home that day, just like he described to Sterling, in what we assumed was a filler scene that doubled as emotional manipulation. It’s taken me two seasons to fully grasp that on This Show, there’s no such thing as a throwaway line. Which is not AT ALL to say that every/any line is necessary or valuable or good or that there were cleverly concealed clues sprinkled throughout that would help you solve the case if you were paying proper attention. What I mean is that if something got brought up that you were positive you’d never hear about again, you were wrong.
Case in point is Ted Wright, who will go down in history as one of television’s most head-scratchingly unnecessarily eleventh hour reveals. I’m not sure if anyone finds this plot development as crazy as I do — that he wasn’t just a clichéd metaphor in a speech but also a clichéd alibi — but it’s really the sort of thing that keeps me up at night. I don’t ask for much in this life, but if anyone happens to have transcripts, preferably both audio and written, of the story meeting where he was first suggested, I will change my Twitter handle to your name.
We pick up with Ted exactly where we last left off. Richmond’s in his wheelchair, Ted Wright’s holding some beer, I’m lying under my coffee table, taking shallow breaths. There was this episode of Veep where Julia Louis-Dreyfus is falling asleep during a senate meeting and Buster/Gar/Tony Hale is watching on TV and he tries to signal for her to wake up, and Anna Chlumsky is all, "That’s not how television works." But if only it was how television worked, because then we could’ve just told Ted Wright and Jamie and Richmond that they didn’t have to even do this scene because we already know that Jamie is a bad guy now. We saw the menacing look he gave the surveillance camera. We get it. But instead we have to hear Ted Wright be all, "My grandson’s always had a rich imagination. How about a cold one, city slicker? Yee haw!" Let me ask you guys a question. Say you were a sociopathic, power-hungry lunatic intent on getting to the top by any means necessary and your only alibi on the night you attacked a teenage girl was your drunkard grandfather? Would you then (a) make up a story about that grandfather in the pep talk you gave your boss, which he then managed to work into every speech he delivered from that point on, or (b) say to yourself, "Hell, as long as I’m making up shit anyway, I should probably make up a fictional relative as well"?
Linden and Holder have meanwhile discussed among themselves what Jamie’s evil surveillance camera face could mean and have also come to the conclusion that yep, he did it. They call Richmond’s cell phone but he left it in the car. Because of course he did. This. Show.
Jamie and Richmond go to Richmond’s office (which a lot of you guys have pointed out is already in City Hall to which, I say, excellent observation, I’m proud to have you on my team). There’s a poster on the wall for Billy Campbell’s upcoming psychological thriller, which I’m assuming are the same posters Jamie was freaking out about last week, when he heard they were getting torn down. Jamie does a speech about how a fire destroyed all of Vancouver back in the day but then, like a phoenix, it rose from the ashes. It makes me feel especially uncomfortable when Veena Sud tries her hand at "real" writing. Jamie says he got a text from his guys at the polls, which threw me off maybe more than anything I’ve yet seen on this show. Look who’s a big boy, sending text messages all of a sudden. Forget Rosie, Jamie is the one who's been living the double life. Punching out teenage girls, orchestrating shady deals, and now he’s clearly been taking online technology courses at night.
Richmond confronts Jamie about the night Rosie died. Jamie tells him it was the perfect plan. All they had to do was bury the Indian bones at the casino and Richmond would’ve won! I was originally planning on writing a Scooby Doo joke here, but Andy Greenwald already beat me to it on Twitter. If only it weren’t for that pesky Greenwald!
Since we’ve been so beaten down by this show, it’s been hard to believe that Jamie actually did do it, despite overwhelming evidence last week (but not in any episodes prior) that he did. So it did come as a shock when we hear Jamie describe confronting Rosie that night. He and Nicole Jackson and Michael Ames had been meeting up as usual. They don’t do a "on three, go team Corruption!" cheer exactly, but they might as well have, since I’m convinced This Show could’ve taken place in a junior high just as easily. (Although then there might have to have been young people on. Shudder.) Michael Ames says, "I want off this damn island already" and that makes us, the viewers, think of Lost and how much we miss it and how we’d take its happy-go-lucky, just-making-this-all-up-as-we-go-along plot over this one any day.
Jamie’s the last to leave and as he does, he HEARS A CELL PHONE RING. Just like last season, when Linden snuck into Holder’s NA meeting and didn’t silence her phone. Or just like when she was about to leave Richmond’s house but then she hears the e-mail ding that was heard around the world. The fact that Veena Sud chose to use this device again, after all of us making fun of it with such relish, really makes me think she doesn’t care about her audience at all. And I don’t think I need a sinister elevator surveillance tape or a non-disabled relative to prove it.
Jamie follows the ring and there’s Rosie Larsen, saying all the things you probably don’t want to say to a scary stranger. Like, "I didn’t see anything, I swear." Here’s the thing, though, what exactly did she see anyway? I mean, didn’t it just look like a bunch of grown-ups discussing business to her? I guess she recognized Nicole Jackson and Michael Ames, but she wouldn’t have any idea who Jamie was, right? Or even if she did, so what? Unless the three of them sealed their land contract deal by sacrificing a baby goat, how hard could it have been for Jamie, a man who specializes in coming up with spin, to make up a story about what they were doing? At the very least, he could’ve told her about Ted Wright. That old yarn always works!
Instead, what happens is that Rosie drops her Super 8 camera and since Jamie’s online classes haven’t gotten to present-day computers yet, he sees it and thinks that that must be what an iPhone looks like. He thinks to himself, "iPhones are what people use to film cops pepper-spraying students and citizens fighting for democracy in Egypt. Whatever this girl filmed she could post on Scenevid and before you know it there’d be 500 views and Richmond’s campaign will be sunk. She must be stopped." So he punches her.
Jamie tells Richmond about how he had to fill up his gas tank or whatever, and she got out of the car and took off through the woods. In the scene at the construction site, the gash on Rosie’s head looked pretty gnarly but now that she’s running so fast, I realize that a third mystery has been solved. It’s not the hospitals that are magic in This Show, it’s the air. All that rain must have special healing properties, just like on Lost! Michael Ames you’re never going to get off the island! Even if you do, you’ll feel so empty inside that you’ll just want back on. (Side note: Bennett must have asthma or something that makes him unable to breathe the air in properly. Because we all know that dude is still walking around in his neck brace.)
Then there’s a brief interlude while AMC shows us a clip from a real American movie classic, the original Omen. "Everything I did, I did for you" says Damian’s babysitter, who weirdly looks a lot like Jamie. Then it’s back to This Show. Richmond, by the way, doesn’t seem nearly as upset as he should when he finds out about Rosie. He’s definitely just as upset about how it led to him ending up paralyzed, which really sets Jamie off. He tells Richmond that he’s nothing but a cheating, whoring, wife-enabling-to-die loser. Which makes Jamie not only a murderer, but also a real dick. And also, if he thinks all these things, why has he devoted his life to making sure Richmond took over the world? (As long as they could snag Olympia, there’d be no stopping them.) If it’s not an integrity issue, which it clearly is not, why didn’t he just go work for the scuzzy guy who was already mayor when he had the chance?
Linden and Holder get a tip that the campaign car’s been spotted at Richmond’s office. They race up the stairs behind Gwen, whom I guess Linden deputized on the way over. (Sorry, Gwen, Linden isn’t po-po anymore, so that bubble gum wrapper badge she gave you is no good.) Jamie points Richmond’s gun, which I have no memory of, at Linden. But before he can take a shot, he’s brought down by Holder. Because he luuuuuvs his lady partner, Holder and Linden sitting in a tree, etc.
What follows is a series of scenes that really makes you question why exactly that is. If you thought Linden was moody when she was on the trail of a killer, just wait until you see her after she’s found him. Holder doesn’t react much better, what with his slamming of tables and so forth, but Linden won’t be happy until she hears every sad detail of Rosie’s final moments. I’m sure she’d say it’s because Rosie died alone and so someone should bear witness, but watching it makes me feel like Linden is one of those people who collects serial killer memorabilia.
I’m just going to wrap up the Richmond plot right here because I seriously can’t take it anymore. Gwen tells him he doesn’t have to write a press release yet, because why would the press care that his campaign manager killed the teenage girl that they had already lost interest in finding the killer for? Especially now that it is the day after the election, which was the artificial countdown for caring that This Show had established. He goes to visit his wife’s grave, just like in the first episode. (It’s not the wisest move when Veena does bookend stuff like that because it just makes you think, Well, was it really necessary for anything to have happened in between these two episodes?) He tells Gwen he wants to move on, and she smiles in as much as it’s possible for her plastic face to do that, but it turns out that what he meant by that is he has decided to be evil now, just like Jamie always wanted him to. He arranges for a meeting with Nicole Jackson and Michael Ames even though he’s already won the election and kow-towing to them feels unnecessary. Then the show has the balls to do this Godfather move where Richmond shuts the door to his office on Gwen. Okay, that’s it for those guys. I will never be able to eat a bowl of richdark chocolate ice cream with almonds again.
We’re about halfway through the episode at this point, and I wasn’t sure if they were going to devote the rest to opening up a new case or dragging out Rosie’s one until the bitter end. I will say that during the police station scene where Holder and Linden are watching Nicole Jackson be interrogated I wrote, "I was really hoping it was Terry" in my notes. I wrote that NOT because that would’ve made any sense but because everyone else was just so boring and Terry was more of a trashily entertaining Hand That Rocks the Cradle kind of option.
It’s one thing to daydream about such a thing, while watching a show like this and trying to keep your faculties intact, and quite another for it to be true. We all watched it, right, so I can fast-forward to how Linden and Holder figure out what went down? To be honest, it’s been so long since they weren’t obsessed with that casino that I can’t even remember what the deal was with the broken tail light. I just know that it’s a major clue that hasn’t been talked about in a long time.
So Linden and Holder go over to the Larsens to deliver the news about Jamie. I have no doubt Linden would’ve been very sullen while doing so and would’ve probably pulled Mitch aside and been like, "Isn’t it such a bummer that we don’t know exactly what her screams sounded like as she was dying?" But Mitch and Stan are out somewhere, probably sitting in the car talking about the day before Rosie left. Terry says it's bad timing because they’re about to move, which is confusing, because wouldn’t this last bit of closure coming now be in fact perfect timing? Oh but wait, Linden spots Terry’s car, which has a broken tail light.
They go upstairs where they find Terry crumpled up on Rosie’s bed. We finally see, through flashback, what happened on the night she died. And it is so satisfyingly campy and ridiculous and nonsensical that I felt torn about what exactly the emotions I was feeling were. I mean, in a way the show did outdo itself but again, it was in that just so terrible, "What were you thinking?" kind of way.
This is why Rosie Larsen died: Jamie, after repeatedly punching an innocent girl in the face, gets cold feet about actually killing her. He calls up his secret business partner Michael Ames and asks him if he’ll do it instead. Michael is about to fly to Las Vegas with his prostitute girlfriend Terry, but he still stops to hear Jamie out. He and Jamie get into a fight where (like Rosie) he says all sorts of things you would never say in that moment. Like, "I’m going back to my wife and starting over. She’s [Terry] a nobody." Terry hears this and in her broke, co-dependent brain thinks to herself, "I have the greatest plan. I’m going to kill this girl myself in order to make my boyfriend happy? Or my boyfriend’s friend happy? Or maybe I’m not sure who it’ll make happy, but I’m just going to do it and figure that part out later." So she gets out of the car wearing those stiletto heels from season one, puts Jamie’s car in reverse and sends the girl in the trunk into the river, while the girl screams in terror.
The thing is, Terry didn’t know. She didn’t know. She just didn’t know, Mitch! She didn’t know that the girl was Rosie. She never would’ve committed a careless murder if she had known. Mitch and Stan are in the room by now and Stan tries to kill Terry, but then Holder almost strangles Stan in an attempt to stop him. Two percent of me enjoyed watching this scene, but only because I was able to convince myself that I had turned the channel and was watching Single White Female instead. But in any rational sense, this plot twist was absolute nonsense garbage.
Terry gets taken away. Linden gets her badge back. She and Holder sit in the dark and then another cop comes in, turns the lights on, and is like, "Um, why are you guys sitting in the dark?" Stan and Mitch breathe in the magic air and are able to miraculously recover from the truly traumatic blow they were just dealt. They sleep like babies until Rod and Tod wake them up and tell them that a videotape came in the mail.
It’s the film that was found in Rosie’s camera. Presumably it was sent by Linden, after she no doubt made a copy for herself. I’m also assuming it was shot by Alexi, which is why she looks so especially happy. Nothing like hanging out with the boy whose dad was killed by your dad. She flashes a series of cards at the camera that is a message to her family. She wants them to know that she loves them and that they are the greatest and she isn’t in fact the least bit mad about Stan not being her dad, but she’s still planning on, I guess, hitchhiking to California where she’s going to live among the butterflies. I guess she has never met any other mildly overachieving teenager in America who just waits to go for college study abroad programs to get all this stuff out of their system. She’ll have so many more opportunities as a high school dropout. Rosie smiles and waves at the camera and then jumps onto a bench so she can’t be closer to the sky, which is as free of dark clouds and heavy raindrops as Rosie Larsen is free of secrets. The Larsens watch their daughter and smile, and then Mitch probably goes and makes them all grilled cheese with crusts cut off. Because let’s face it, other than the fact that Terry turned out to have killed her daughter, she was a real help around the house.
As for Linden, I hope you don’t get back in that car, even though I know you will. If there’s a season three, will you at least kiss Holder? It isn’t too much to ask after everything you’ve put us through.