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A View to THE KILLING: "What You Have Left"

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Monday, May 02 2011 and posted in Reviews

Everybody has their secrets, and a new wrinkle develops in what we thought we knew.

Everybody's got their something.  One thing The Killing has spent a lot of time doing is piling on mysterious backstories for just about anyone who happens to  walk past a camera.  There's just layer upon layer of secrecy that gets let out in drips and drabs.  Were it not for all this, the show probably wouldn't need thirteen episodes in a season. 

Look no further than Rosie Larsen's high school principal, who's warming up to Darren Richmond because of the impending school board elections.  Then there's Rosie's Aunt Terry, who gets boozy at the funeral reception, let's out a breathy, flirtatious "Hi!" towards Jasper's father (it goes unacknowledged) and snaps at Belko ("You do realize that you're not part of this family, right?") who seems only to want to help before scurrying up to Rosie's old room to light a joint and feel sad.  But it isn't just the side characters who have things to hide.

Take, for example, our two investigators.  Sarah Linden, who totally swears this time forep6-sarah-linden-2 real she's leaving for Sonoma tonight, even going so far as to facetiously bet her son "$15 million" that it's going to happen this time.  That's going to be tough to pay off.  In any case, we find out exactly who Reggie is to Linden, and why she keeps her kid with her.  It turns out Reggie was Linden's social worker.  And she "almost lost [her son] once."  Reggie warns Linden not to let it happen again (there's that pesky "it" again).  Holder, for his part, has his own thing.  There was that pile of money last episode, and now he gets a mysterious bald guy to talk about his insecurities to.  Obviously, no word on who he is, but Holder seems to treat him like a mobile therapist on call.  Oh, by the way, baldy here happens to know someone else's big secret: he tells Holder that Stan Larsen used to be muscle for the Polish mob. 

So now we have an idea of what used to go on back in "the old days."  Frankly, seeing the intense manner in which Stan does, well, anything, it should come as no surprise that he has a violent criminal past.  So how come the cops didn't know about this before?  Because, as bald-o puts it: "Dead men can't press charges."  So Stan has killed in the past.  This would probably be the biggest revelation of the episode, were it not for the newest development in the investigation (oh yeah, there's something going on in the here and now).  Bennet, the English teacher, doesn't seem as guilty, but is still implicit in the murder.  Now his wife, who may be unstable and seems to come from a racist family, is the top suspect.  Too bad Stan doesn't know about this, because by the episode's end Belko's contact at the school has pointed the finger at Bennet, and now he's absconded with the teacher. 

epg-terry-marek-mitch-larsen-stan-larsenBennet being tied to the murder is really an inconvenience for Richmond too.  He has this shiny new TV spot, where he's cozying up to Bennet, and now he has to pull the ad since he can't be seen getting chummy with a possible murderer.  Adams, of course, somehow finds out about Bennet, and uses it as ammunition in a televised debate.  As a result, the debate doesn't go well for him.  This scene is really useful since at the beginning of every episode, there's always some lip service paid to the fact that the association with Rosie Larsen's murder has been seriously hurting the campaign.  However, it never really felt like that was the case.  It never came across to the viewer just how the campaign was being affected.  It was always some throwaway line from Gwen, and that was about it.  The debate is the first time it was ever made clear that the Rosie Larsen murder could indeed sink Darren Richmond.

On a purely technical level, "What You Have Left" is the absolute best-looking episode of the show so far.  It was directed by Agnieska Holland, who started out making beautiful films in Europe before bringing her wares to American shores.  She's been directing television for the last few years, and her episodes of any given show (The Wire, Cold Case, Tremé) are always the most visually distinctive.  She fills "What You Have Left" with so many gorgeous shots and camera moves that it really takes what was already so visually strong to a whole new level.  This is a show that could absolutely use Holland's deft directorial hand.

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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