by Alex Greenberger
Shocker–this week’s episode of “The Killing,” entitled “Sayonara Hiawatha,” isn’t too horrible. I found that the cliffhanger, in which we find Linden being whacked in the head with a flashlight on the Indian Hotel’s tenth floor, was less surprising than the fact that the episode was any good at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed the last twenty minutes of “Sayonara Hiawatha” because they were surprisingly suspenseful, and also because they had nothing to do with the show’s extraneous characters. By that, I mean any character that isn’t Holder or Linden. The last third takes place almost exclusively in the casino and hotel, and with the exception of a scene of Holder pretending to be drunk to distract the Indian police force, solely consists of a long dialogue between Holder and Linden.
For once, it feels like the writers have cut to the chase with “Sayonara Hiawatha,” considering the fact that the final ten minutes of the episode are a) devoted entirely to solving Rosie Larsen’s murder and b) concerned with action rather than the promise of action. Linden finally gets to the tenth floor in this one, and, as Linden exclaims through a series of excitement-induced hyperventilations, “This is the place where it all started.”
Linden discovers that Rosie saw Ames, Chief Jackson, and a third man discussing something on this floor that she wasn’t supposed to have heard or seen. Basically, Rosie became entangled in a series of events that were completely unrelated to her. In other news, I’m still angry about the way the Beau Soleil connection, or lack thereof, panned out. But ignoring the show’s previous mistakes, it seems that with “Sayonara Hiawatha,” the writers of “The Killing” are gearing up to finally tell us who killed Rosie Larsen in the next four episodes. Veena Sud has stated that Rosie’s killer will not be revealed until the end of this season, but if the remainder of the season promises as much suspense as the last third of this episode, I don’t mind waiting.
Still, the rest of the episode is a little drab, as per usual, but this week, it feels excusable, as I now realize that it’s all build-up for what very well may be a great season (or should I say series?) finale. The Richmond storyline finally appears to be at least beginning to connect to the Larsen case, though I wish the pacing would improve a little. I now see that the writers need Richmond as a device through which the Indian and Seattle police force tensions are mediated. We get very little of that in this episode, but any link to the main portion of the narrative is a good one for the Richmond part, which has felt like a dangling, half-baked arc up until this point. I’ll take what I can get for now.
Any change for the Larsens is good right now, too, though unfortunately, “Sayonara Hiawatha” seems to show little improvement in their characters. At one point, Mitch calls Stan to tell him the information she discovered by visiting her old flame, David—that Rosie had told him of her plans to run away to California on the day before she was murdered. Just when it seems that Mitch or Stan might make amends and get back together, nothing happens and the phone call ends. I’m not exactly rooting for Mitch and Stan’s reunion, but I’m getting tired of their separation. Let’s face it–this season’s next four episodes may very well be the last few for the entire show. It’s time to wrap it up nicely, and that means closing up this whole situation.
Still, the emotional scenes with Stan in “Sayonara Hiawatha”—those involving Stan and his sons’ disappointment in Stan’s fathering—are emotionally trying. They are possibly some of the best scenes of mourning “The Killing” has seen yet because they feel a lot less unnecessarily weepy than most of the first season. (For comparison’s sake, juxtapose that sequence with an earlier one from this episode in which Linden cries because she finds Jack’s coat. Linden’s scene is slapdash writing; Stan’s scene is surprisingly effective because it feels essential.)
So maybe very little ended up happening for the first two thirds of “Sayonara Hiawatha,” but it seems that the last third has put “The Killing” on a good track for at least a decent finale. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m not only watching these next few solely to find out who killed Rosie, because with the last third of this one, “The Killing” is becoming something more—the atmospheric pulp drama it was always meant to be.
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.