In “Ghosts of the Past,” the sixth episode of this season of “The Killing,” the line, “You care more about that dead girl than you care about your son” is said with complete seriousness. AMC–Story Matters Here, right?
Right, well, story clearly doesn’t matter enough here at AMC, because if story really did matter, then “The Killing” probably would have been as dead as Rosie Larsen a long time ago. But since story apparently does matter so much, I think it’s time I looked at what’s so wrong with the narrative of “The Killing,” since “Ghosts of the Past” exposes all of the show’s problems. In the end, it comes down to one thing–the fact that we’ve seen everything on “The Killing” before.
The episode’s title, which, by the way, is just about as trite as the show itself, most likely refers to Mitch’s storyline. Mitch has become even more obsessed with the Rosie look-alike. She’s even gone so far as to treat her to brunch and attempt to bond with her over a poorly lip-synched version of “Gloria.” The point that writer Wendy Riss is trying to make is that Mitch hasn’t gotten over Rosie’s death. Mitch can’t face the fact that Rosie is truly gone, and thus she has filled her place with this nameless girl. Now isn’t all that original?
Meanwhile, we’re forced to endure a third of this episode that focuses on Richmond. Still, nothing is happening with Richmond’s storyline. He mopes around because he’s paralyzed, and sometimes, he has dreams that a hooded Belko is still trying to assassinate him. The crooked politician aspect has been played out all too frequently on TV shows, but “The Killing” has decidedly gone the extra mile by abusing that offense even further. Unlike other shows that have attempted this type of story, “The Killing” just refuses to connect that storyline to any other part of this show. At one point, Richmond mattered to the story in the first season, when, for the longest time, we were made to think Richmond killed Rosie. But now that we know that was wrong, what purpose does he serve?
The most central part of the story—the scenes involving Holder and Linden’s search for Rosie’s killer—are still quite enthralling, actually. In “Ghosts of the Past,” the pair discovers that Alexi did not kill Rosie. (I know, big surprise there.) Alexi does, however, manage to cough up an interesting piece of information–Rosie knew that Stan wasn’t her biological father. That explains her angst in the months before her death—Beau Soleil, the casino, and everything else now makes sense. But in the end, we’re left at the same place we started–Who killed Rosie Larsen? It’s so typical of shows in this vein to do this, and it’s best that they stop, because “The Killing” has done little to make me happy with this maddening conceit.
Since “The Killing” is so deeply rooted in borrowing bits from other shows, I’m going to stick with my original theory on Rosie’s murderer and say that “The Killing” is going to follow “Twin Peaks” until the very end. (Beware: Spoilers for “Twin Peaks” to follow.)
I’m still going to say that Stan killed Rosie. I’m not going to say he was possessed by the ghost of Bob, but more often than not, it’s a family member that’s the murderer in these things, and, since “The Killing” seems to want to be such a “Twin Peaks” copycat, I’m going to hold true to my original ideas on the show. Hopefully, I’m wrong, but “Ghosts of the Past,” like many other episodes, never averted any of my expectations. It would only make sense that the show fails to stray away from tired motifs in the end, too.
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.