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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Killing spies "Orpheus Descending"

The Killing: Season One [Blu-ray]     AMC's The Killing ends their first season with "Orpheus Descending." In the episode, Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) pinpoint Councilman Richmond (Billy Campbell) as the mysterious online personality Orpheus, and then link him as the killer in the Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay) case. Or do they? Before the credits roll, Holder tells an unseen person that the fake photos of Richmond work, while Linden realizes that the evidence isn't on the up and up. But she's on a plane out of town. Will she get off? To add to the suspense, as Richmond is getting into a car, Larsen family friend Belko (Brendan Sexton III) pulls a gun on him at point blank range.

     Reaction has been mixed on this episode, and most of the negative ones are from loyal viewers upset that there is no real closure to the Rosie Larsen case in this episode. The Killing has already been renewed for season two, but after patiently waiting for three months, assuming the identity of the murderer would be made apparent by this episode, some people feel cheated. All that is certain is there is a lot of grey area, not everything is as it seems, and at least one character considered fairly trustworthy may not be.

     The negative feedback is wrong. It's a brilliant story, and dropping in a few last minute twists at the end only excite the appetite for season two even more. The entire first run is so well written and acted that there is a level of trust in the writers at this point to eventually satisfy the audience beyond reasonable doubt. Or, if that doesn't happen, it's more realistic, as without being a witness to the event, it's never known one hundred percent what happens. But it's more likely the show will finger the real killer, as mentioned in a promo for season two.

     Sadly, not many people have the patience to sit through thirteen slow moving episodes, and it's a testament to The Killing's quality that it hooks as many fans as it does. While it may have lost a few with the vague ending, hopefully even more will be brought into the fold once it gets out that The Killing does not tolerate laziness in its viewers. It makes not only the characters, but also the people watching at home, work for the truth. The story is not an easy one, and a solution is not to be had, even after thirteen episodes.

     One thing relatively predictable is that Belko will not succeed in killing Richmond. Rosie's father, Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton), is already facing charges for nearly beating to death a man wrongfully accused of the evil deed. Richmond is probably not the killer, as evidence against him is not real. It doesn't seem likely that Belko will go through the exact same thing. If there's one thing The Killing doesn't do, it's repeat itself. But I could be wrong. Maybe that's the beauty of going down that path. A similar situation with drastically different circumstances and results.

     For season two, only three main characters have been revealed in the press to have signed on at this time. Holder and Linden will be back, which seems like a no-brainer. Obviously, Linden will not go through with her move to California permenantly, as with the Rosie case still open, her obsession will not be sated. Whether she gets off the plane immediately following the final seconds of "Orpheus Descending," or is haunted by the unsolved mystery for months at her new home, she will return to Seattle to continue to work the case. Given her personality, it's a solid conclusion.

     Holder is still deeply connected with Larsen, too, though his motivations are more murky. Those who have come to adore him as a hero may root for Holder to have the best of intentions in using a fake photograph. Holder and Linden are sure Richmond is their guy, so unable to get the footage he needs, Holder could have forged the shots to put away the man he believes is a bad guy. It's not a smart or noble move, but it's one that may be forgiven by the audience, if not the police department.

     Another option is that Holder is paid off or blackmailed into providing those doctored photos to his boss. While blackmail may fall into the same category as the above theory, bribery definitely would not. Holder is on a strict budget. He may want the money for drugs, which would be a huge disappointment. He may have powerful friends in high places. He may have some personal connection to the real killer, and have a reason to hide the truth. The possibilities are endless, and only season two will uncover which is correct.

     The third character booked to return is Rosie's aunt, Terry Marek (Jamie Anne Allman). What this means is anyone's guess, but it will likely connect to her clan. Stan's story has been emotionally moving, and it will satisfy many to see it continue to play out. As the season ends, Mitch (Michelle Forbes) leaves Stan. Will Stan be with Terry, as their bond seems a little too close for brother- and sister-in-law? If so, sympathy for Stan may fade. Or maybe with Mitch gone and Stan in jail, Terry is the family member the police will work with as they figure out who really killed Rosie.

     "Orpheus Descending" is a brilliant play, with lots of unexpected occurrences and loose ends. While it does not deliver what everyone wants, it continues the series in the same vein it carries with consistency throughout season one. Keep in mind, the original version of The Killing has a twenty episode first season, so there is still material to mine. Toss a second case in to go along with Rosie, and it can be just as dense as the first season. I, for one, cannot wait for the second season, which will likely air spring 2012.


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     If you've missed any episodes of The Killing, catch up with Amazon.com's Instant Video, from which all episodes, including this week's, are now available.

Article first published as TV Review: The Killing - "Orpheus Descending" on Blogcritics.

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