‘The Killing’ – ‘Beau Soleil’: I know what you did last weekend

Senior Television Writer
06.13.11 227 Comments


A review of last night’s “The Killing” coming up just as soon as there’s a swimming pool in my ceiling…

“Maybe none of us knew her.” -Terry

On the one hand, “Beau Soleil” – like last week’s “Missing” – was a much stronger episode than we’ve gotten for the bulk of the season. With the finale only a week away, there’s precious little time for messing around, which meant the show couldn’t use its usual formula of two plot revelations bookending a whole lot of nothing. Significant things happened and were revealed this week, as we find out exactly what Rosie was up to that night, why she’d become so distant from Sterling, and get a line on who might have killed her.

On the other hand, “Beau Soleil,” only magnified many of my frustrations with the season’s long, pointless middle section. I know Veena Sud told me that they were going to decide on the killer as the season went along, but this episode at least created the illusion that they knew from the start and were just marking time with Jasper, Bennet, Belko, etc., until they got to what actually mattered.

And as with “Missing,” I felt like a lot of this material would have been much more valuable had it been presented earlier in the season. Last week told us that Sud and company waited way too long to let us get to know Linden and Holder (both as individuals and as a partnership); this week gave us details on Rosie (and Aunt Terry) that would have significantly deepened our understanding of that family – a family that was largely defined by grief and not much else – had we known them earlier. For too long, the cops have been investigating the murder of a girl the show had completely lost interest in. Rather than spending so many episodes hanging a flashing neon “Guilty” sign over Bennet Ahmed, the show would have been so much better served telling us more about Rosie herself, and about her relationship with her parents, her aunt, her brothers, etc. I’m not saying all murder victims on mystery series need to be so prominent after the fact, but when you’re spending an entire season on one case, you damn sure need to make us understand and care more about the victim than “The Killing” has let us with Rosie.(*)

(*) As I’ve said before, I think “Twin Peaks” was too tonally strange for it to be an easy one-to-one comparison with “The Killing,” but that was a show that made sure Laura Palmer was significantly present in some way long after her death. Ditto with “Veronica Mars” season one and Lily Kane. Of course, those series used flashbacks and/or dream sequences, two structural devices “The Killing” has chosen not to really employ. And that’s fine, but then Sud needed another way to make Rosie matter more than she has.

And because the show now has such an ingrained pattern of ending one episode with the killer’s identity seeming obvious, only for what we know to be proven false early in the next one, I couldn’t even get invested in the cliffhanger with Richmond. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if it were to turn out that the escort(**) had misinterpreted Darren’s talk of drowning – that he was feeling morose in the wake of his wife’s death and was pondering that as a fate he’d give himself. That final sequence was very well put-together, and yet it didn’t scare me nearly as much as it should have because this is the show that cried wolf. I will believe in no one as the killer until the final 5 minutes of the finale.

(**) Speaking of “Veronica Mars,” she was played by Alona Tal, who had a recurring role on that show as Veronica’s friend Meg.

A few other thoughts:

• We get yet another “Battlestar Galactica” alum playing a man in Linden’s life who gives her a deadline about him leaving town, as Tahmoh Penikett turns up as her ex-husband. I’m not particularly invested in Sarah’s personal life at this point, but I liked how she’s stopped trying to keep that life a secret from Holder, and then how Holder knew to step back into the office to make sure everything’s all right. It’s like they’re an actual partnership now, to the point where Linden could even banter with his former partner from the narco days.

• I worked at a newspaper for a long time, so I unfortunately had to smile at the show’s quaint belief in the power a newspaper endorsement could still hold. If only, “The Killing.” If only.

• I recognize that the emotions between Stan and Mitch are so raw, but man was I irritated by their conversation at the jail, where Mitch’s anger and mistrust got in the way of Stan just explaining about the mortgage on the house – a misunderstanding that I fear is going to again lead to grave consequences next week. Dramatic situations that depend on two characters not sharing important information that’s easy to convey frustrate the hell out of me.

Not sure if I’ll have a finale review ready on Sunday night or if it’s going to be another Monday morning affair. But we’ve hung in this long; let’s see what happens next week.

What did everybody else think?

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