When examining a television episode, I sometimes consider whether it has increased/decreased the likelihood of recommending the show to a friend. But usually I just take that hour of television I just watched and ask, “Was that worth watching?” ‘The Killing’ is delicately walking that line right now. Additionally, as the series goes on, overall time investment relative to payoff must be considered.
This episode had some interesting developments: Pastor Mike is really Pastor Mark who was nearly arrested for kidnapping a 16 year old girl. Ray appears to be questioning his feelings about salvation and how he will be executed. He now also seems to fear death. And in the cliffhanger, Pastor Mark gets into Linden’s car and forces her to drive off.
These moments make for good TV. However it’s the scenes where characters are intended to be developing and connecting that only work some of the time. Holder gives some street smart advice to Bullet – ‘watch out for your lady.’ But we are also forced to experience another extended demonstration of Holder’s mumbling street smarts. The guard, Hugh Dillon, showing his son the gallows in an effort to connect with him, was unexpected and SO conceptually dark, in a good way. But the scene itself felt rushed and forced in. There was a scene with Linden and Holder bonding. “Sometimes what you get really isn’t what you want” was apparently a little nugget of wisdom Holder wanted to pass onto Linden. The reappearance of Linden’s ex, Cody, really didn’t contribute much, either. It seems like the intent was to show how Linden is really her genuine self now, and isn’t really capable of being a happy, normal person. Ok then, as she herself said, she was just pretending to be someone else. Bullet and Lyric hanging out on the roof expressing that they have nowhere to go, and that Bullet loves Lyric – that’s sweet but the writers have not created as much viewer concern for these two as there should be. Though the scene with Danette (Kallie’s mom) and another mother of a missing girl did work well; it gave Danette a grim glimpse into what the future may hold for her, and how the ‘maybe effect,’ the ongoing speck of hope that her daughter is alive, can be the most draining and difficult aspect.
So far in “The Killing,’ in part due to past seasons’ plot lines, there has been a lot of sentiment expressed such as ‘this better be worth it,’ ‘the ending had better tie everything together,’ and ‘let’s hope the conclusion pays off.’
But in a series payoff doesn’t just have to be distributed in the form of a great conclusion. If a series does it right, it will be issuing dividends as it goes.
The concern about how the series will end, rather than what actually will happen at the end of the season, exemplifies the problem with Season 3. Of course with any ‘Whodunnit’ series (and I’ll even begrudgingly include the series actually called ‘Whodunnit’), there will more focus on the revelation of the killer and how the final events are played out. But ‘The Killing’s overall game plan seems too focused on plot points and not enough focus is put on the characters, with Ray Seward, as usual, being an exception.
It’s as if the whole story was plotted out, with red herrings, mini-cliff hangers, action sequences, and other major events, and then the writing of the dialogue and scenes themselves were not given enough attention.
Like going on a group wine tour, hitting all the great wineries but never really clicking with the people you’re with.
What do you think? Are you seeing much return on your invested time? Is ‘The Killing’ worth watching?