The Killing, “What You Have Left”

Note: I’m super-busy this week, but wanted to get down a few quick thoughts.

I haven’t written about The Killing for a few weeks. Part of that has to do with scheduling issues; I’ve been traveling the last two weekends. But perhaps more importantly, the last two episodes of the series haven’t been particularly review-worthy. That doesn’t mean I only review “good” episodes (I do write about Smallville), but mediocrity + time crunch = no review. These last two efforts weren’t especially “bad,” but they felt a little aimless and middling compared to the first three episodes.

Thankfully, “What You Have Left” is nice rebound episode for the series. This is an episode that does move the narrative and the case forward, but succeeds primarily because it has a nice, tight focus on the Larsen family and Rosie’s funeral. It’s a nice reminder that one of the things this series does best is atmosphere and vibe. There is no rain in this episode, but it still feels suffocating and depressing.

As far as the case goes, it still looks like Bennet has played a big part in the murder. Despite my issues with the last two episodes, I have liked how the series has stuck on Bennet for more than one episode without transitioning to another suspect. These last three have added new clues and subtleties to the possibility that Bennet is the killer, but the focus on him has been compelling and somewhat uncomfortable. Brandon Jay McLaren has been good at portraying a man who is slowly realizing his lies aren’t going to work. Each week, he’s been caught in some sort of lie or obstruction, but McLaren has done a nice job of making the character seem more weaselly than creepy. The reveal in this episode that his wife might actually be involved in Rosie’s murder as well is certainly creepy and I am very excited to see how that continues to play out. Of course, we know that these two are probably just pawns in a larger story. It’s only episode six. Unless this turns into 24 where Linden and Holder catch one criminal and then have to stop another one in the second half, it’s fairly certain that Bennet and his wife might have carried a body or done some damage, but they were given directives from some higher-ups. Which probably means bad things for Darren Richmond.

Those developments were nice, but I actually liked the funeral and grieving part of this episode more. I had been wondering when the funeral was going to happen (five or six days does seem a bit long to wait), but I’m ultimately glad the series waited until now if it means that it gets this sort of treatment. Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton have been tremendous all season, but both of them were fantastic here, individually and together. Sexton just slays the moments where the steely Stanley lets his emotions show, from the crying breakdown a few weeks ago and his heavy-box-moving here. These aren’t original beats, but Sexton’s raw performance makes them count. And when Stanley’s rugged past self rears its head and he decides to take Bennet for a ride, Sexton nails that part as well. There are a lot of great performances on this series, but Sexton’s might be my favorite thus far. Forbes had a little less to do this week, but did a lot with it. She looks so pale, gaunt and sick in this episode, which embodies the grieving process completely and devastatingly. And in general, the funeral sequences were dark and dank without too much overkill.

Again, I’m short on time and there’s probably more to say. But this episode came along at the perfect time and is a great reminder of how good this series can be.

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