Detours can prove to be warranted in a drama, or they can be a distraction. This episode offered a mixture of both. The Killing has done a fair job at balancing the multiple storylines of an investigation, a political race and the emotional strain on a family. Sometimes there have been lulls, and last week’s episode unfortunately set this one up as one of those episodes that will halt the momentum of AMC’s drama.
“Off the Reservation” spends the opening act searching for Holder, who was left for dead by some of the Chief’s henchmen on the reservation. While it built tension, all it added up to was proving that the tribe, namely Chief Johnson, has something to hide. Whether it deals with the Rosie Larsen investigation or another crime they’re covering up remains to be seen until later on in this episode.
The plot veered the show away from its goal, but not far enough to cause a distraction. In fact, the biggest distraction—Linden’s not-so-amazing mothering skills—was solved in this episode. Last week it really dragged down the entire episode, and while it lingered in the background the majority of this one, it ended with her sending Jack to his father’s care in Chicago. Perhaps it was supposed to be an emotional turning point for Linden, but the entire storyline has been watered down so much that it didn’t come with that impact it should have.
Aside from those two diversions, the rest of the episode moved the series forward, but still failed to capture the momentum it was building a few weeks back. There was some interesting development with Richmond’s campaign. There was a sense of justice watching him call out the Mayor for faking the tollbooth photo that caused the councilman to be arrested and subsequently shot. At first I was a bit wary that the Mayor had anything to do with the false photo. It seemed almost certain, but the show tends to throw a wrench in what we think is legitimate. However, the Mayor’s reaction goes to show that he is crooked. Just how crooked he is should be answered in the upcoming episodes as the second season heads into the latter half of its episode numbers.
Perhaps the most crucial piece of evidence that holds the key to solving Rosie’s murder turns out to be…a key. Very symbolic, yes? But it works. We don’t know exactly what the hotel key will lead to, but we do know it’s to the 10th floor, which is currently under construction.
I was glad to find out that Rosie wasn’t a prostitute in the casino, but was a maid and sometimes worked the floor—that’s why she dressed kind of slutty. She really was just a sweet innocent teenager, and it just makes her death all the more tragic.
While the episode started weak and eventually found its footing, it ended on a just as weak a note. Why would Darren Richmond have a gun in his briefcase? To take his own life or to take revenge on the mayor? Either way, both choices seem out of character.
We’re officially past the halfway point for the second season and The Killing has done a better job of feeding us pieces of information this time around than when they forced red-herring twists into the last five minutes of every episode. Whatever that hotel key unlocks will be the final major piece to the puzzle, and it looks like we’ll find out sooner rather than later.