The Killing Season 1-03 ‘El Diablo’ Recap

The cliffhanger of the second episode of The Killing left us at the discovery of a basement where our deceased, Rosie Larson, is believed to have spent a portion of her last night alive. The whole mystery of the episode comes from this discovery, the centre of which is a bloody mattress where various debauched things have definitely taken place. From this our triangle plot begins to branch out as it does each episode: the grieving family, the police investigation and the councilman running for Mayor. At the fore of this episode is the politician, Darren Richmond and his team who are slowly becoming more and more suspicious.

If you’ve been following the show, you know by now that Rosie was found drowned in a campaign car which belonged to the Richmond campaign. This week sees that information, which was attempted to be quashed by Richmond’s PR team, getting out into the press via an anonymous insider source. Here the paranoia among the team and their credibility is seemingly under threat. From the beginning there has been something strange going on with Richmond, he isn’t exactly squeaky clean and there are moments where he is able to blackmail people in order to get his way.

This is a man with a comfortable, charming, bonhomie exterior especially with the public but behind closed doors the man has a nasty streak. It is later found that one of his PR guys was the one who leaked the information about the car and is fired. Of course we are led to believe this isn’t true and there it is made clear that this guy is vindictive and an indication of more mystery to come with nasty things going on inside the political office.

With most detective serials however there is often a red herring, is he the man the police are looking for? Perhaps. However more luck is found within the detective investigation as Linden and Holden find deeper clues with a janitor who points towards two teenage males who were in the basement along with Rosie on the night of the murder. At this point the episode takes a darker turn into more underground territory of the city, and never has a skateboard park looked more threatening, where drugs and rape are lurking deep at the heart of the teenage, collegiate life. The discovery at the end of the episode is of a video of two teenagers, one we’ve already met, ex-boyfriend Jasper and another emo type Kris, raping a girl in the basement.

It is a horrific find and ends the episode with yet another bitter taste. The video is also very creepily shot as it’s filmed through a cell phone recording. The moment which has Jasper wearing a terrifying devilish mask is a thinly veiled metaphor perhaps of that underneath the mask, is something more evil than the Devil himself. It also allows for an explanation of why no one saw him at the Halloween party referred to in the first couple of episodes, where, ironically, the horror of the show began.

Playing a much minor role this week, book ending the episode are the Larson family. Their struggle to overcome the grief grounds the show in some emotional chord for the audience to cling to, it is realistic and it rarely dissolves into melodramatic actorly emoting, it is remarkably low key grief that is played with realism, and something that occasionally hit home for me. It isn’t an easy watch by any means and the episode if anything puts the show further and further into a level of deep grimness.

Despite saying initially that comparing the show to Twin Peaks does it somewhat a disservice due to this being more grounded in realism, this episode has compelled me to think otherwise. There are moments of this which come frighteningly close to Lynch’s masterly TV mystery. The school mates are particularly close to how the friends of Laura Palmer are depicted in Twin Peaks and the whole idea of the basement where Rosie is raped is very close to the trailer in Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me where Laura Palmer is killed.

However there is still enough in here for it to be called an original. What sets it apart from Twin Peaks is the beautifully dour, grey look to the show and the interactions between characters are played to be believed and not played as obvious character performance. The acting is terrifically good, which is to be expected for an AMC show. The cast is chosen very carefully and they got the best people for the roles as opposed for going for marquee value names. Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden is clearly one of the best female television performances of the last year and she continues her level of angst and quiet disdain but also of forceful passion. Her good cop hits most of the cilches but her performance makes it real.

The Killing is still one to watch, it maintains its high quality and despite being derivative, there is something in the character drama that makes it utterly compelling.