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A View to THE KILLING: "El Diablo"

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Thursday, April 14 2011 and posted in Reviews

The world of "The Killing" just gets darker with each new day.

Well, that was...disturbing.

While the first two hours of THE KILLING took on an irrepresible air of grey foreboding, "El Diablo" takes the show into a near-opaque darkness.  To whit, the episode features prominently a scene of Detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder watching a cell phone video of our murder victim Rosie Larsen (or so we're led to believe – we see the victim's wig, but not her face) getting raped by two classmates (who take turns wearing a devil mask, just to throw one more ghastly detail in there), both of whom are now murder suspects.  Mind you, this comes after we already know that Rosie drowned while tied up in the trunk of a car that was then submerged in a lake, and that she lost her fingernails while frantically trying to claw her way out.  Hopefully, the show has moved on from the "retroactively putting a teenage girl through hell in her final moments on this mortal coil" phase of the proceedings.  To top it all off, the only reason the cops find this video is because a group of kids in Rosie's high school, only about two days removed from hearing about her death, are gathered around watching it, hooting and hollering and absolutely enjoying it.  It just makes for a horiffic world for the series to take place in. 

An odd side effect of all this darkness in the investigation side of the story is that Holderep3-stephen-holder-sarah-linden is starting to look like a shimmering beam of light.  He has somehow gone from chief weirdo to the least disfunctional aspect of the show (apparently, he doesn't smoke pot to ply teenage girls for information, he uses something called "NarcScent," which apparently does exist).  There's still a lot more to be revealed about him, both in terms of character and plot.  His needling of Linden about her anxieties over her work keeping her away from her son is pretty amusing ("My mother never had dinner with me, and look how I turned out."), and he even gets a mysterious phone call moment, which adds to the heaps of foreboding and intrigue that are stuffed into every corner of this show.  It just feels like everyone is up to something, even the most minor of characters. 

For example, The Darren Richmond campaign.  There's still a lot of time spent with Richmond, as well as his two campaign advisors, Gwen and Jamie.  Only we find out that one of them is implicated in strategy leaks to the opposition campaign (the incumbent mayor looking for re-election, and who's totally shady as well).  While this is all going on, the viewer is wondering exactly what Darren Richmond has to do with Rosie Larsen's murder.  Her body was found in a car belonging to the campaign, but since that car was reported stolen before Rosie was killed, the only connection we know about  – for now, anyway, is that there is no connection.  The show continues to stick with the campaign storyline for a reason, though, but figuring out what role it will play in the narrative for the next ten episodes (other than giving the press something to ask about) is pretty difficult.  Something more than backroom politicking may be needed soon, though, since this section of the story just isn't that compelling on ep3-darren-richmond-gwen-eatonits own, and it really isn't carrying its weight in the overall scheme of the show.

The Larsen family, meanwhile, is still trying to cope with the loss of Rosie.  As it was last week, this is the best part of the show.  Cop shows rarely focus on the grieving family in their stories, so it's great to see that side of things given so much screen time.  The sadness of the household is so palpable that even chocolate chip pancakes are heartbreaking.  While father Stan is trying to pick up the pieces and stay strong for his two young boys, mother Mitch is completely despondent.  After learning that her daughter drowned, Mitch submerges herself in the bathtub, gaining a small glimpse into what Rosie experienced at the end of her life.  It results in an explosion of emotion that is very affecting and so achingly played by Michelle Forbes.

The mood and atmosphere of THE KILLING really doesn't let up in its third episode.  If anything, it cranks it up and really leans on it for most of the storytelling.  It's dreary and it's depressing, but for all of the unnecessary sensationalism introduced right at the end of "El Diablo," the series is still rather compelling.   The investigation has reached the point where enough false leads have been eliminated that clues are now leading our detectives somewhere.  But will viewers want to go there with them?

Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch

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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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