by Alex Greenberger
I suppose starting a review with the ending of an episode isn’t necessarily the best way to begin, but I think that the 50 minutes that precede the last sequence of “Bulldog” are far less important than what happens in the end of the episode. And wow, what a sequence. I won’t say that often for “The Killing”—that any sequence of the show ever has a “wow” factor—but the last ten minutes of this episode were pretty spectacular.
In fact, I don’t talk enough about what “The Killing” does right because I’m too busy bashing it for moving at a lethargic pace. But “Bulldog” was different. Even though “Bulldog” is just as flawed as any other episode of the series, it’s still a shining specimen of what “The Killing” can do very right when given the right circumstances.
I will say this much—“The Killing,” and “Bulldog” especially, always manages to keep me guessing. I really thought I knew where this episode was going as I watched it. I really did think that Linden walked out of that casino without a shred of evidence. I was pretty sure that Stan was going to join the mob again under the pressure of Janek. And I certainly thought Richmond was dropping out of the race, and even that his alibi about having attempted suicide on the night of Rosie Larsen’s murder was true. But I was wrong on every account. I love a good mystery show that can surprise me.
So maybe “The Killing” has yet to truly blow me away with any of its twists, but for what it’s worth, I can even sometimes predict what crazy stuff is going to happen on “Breaking Bad,” but I can’t do the same for “The Killing.” I think that says something about the strength of this show’s narrative, which is unfortunately fatally marred by the writers’ inability to speedily tell it.
The last ten minutes are exemplary of the aforementioned unpredictability that I’m talking about, and that’s partially due to the way it’s shot. Most of the last ten minutes are spent on Richmond’s speech. We think he’s going to perform political suicide by admitting his attempted suicide, and to some extent, we’re right, but his campaign isn’t over—he’s still in this race. But, as we find out through a series of poorly edited cutaways, the bloodied city hall security card that Linden found didn’t open Mayor Adams’ door, but rather, it opened Richmond’s, which means that Richmond’s alibi is false and that he is still a suspect.
The reason I was led to believe it would, in fact, be Adams was because of a shot in one of the cutaways. There’s one really beautifully executed shot just before Linden attempts to swipe the key card in which an image of the shadows of Linden and Holder reflects on a glass window that Adams and his men are behind. It’s a fairly classic noir shot, one that’s a visual way of saying, “Cuff ‘em, boss,” though this is, as I have stated, false. It’s a pretty intelligent way of re-imagining a noir conceit and of revealing a plot detail.
There are, of course, some less elegantly executed sequences in this episode. Mitch’s return to Stan is told through one shot, which, I guess, is really all “The Killing” needed, but still, it feels much too matter-of-fact for all the time spent on Mitch this season. And Alexi shooting Janek? It’s believable, I suppose, but that, too, feels like the easy way out.
Yet no episode of television is flawless, of course, and you have to give credit where credit is due, especially on a show like “The Killing,” where the writers continue to constantly make mistakes. “Bulldog” gives me faith that the two-part finale that begins on Sunday may be a fitting end to this whole investigation. You know, “Bulldog” even makes it feel like the commercials aren’t just hyping up the finale when they say the killer’s reveal will be “the moment we’ve all been waiting for.”
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.