Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Killing: “Numb”

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The title “Numb” suggests a Larsen-heavy episode, and Mitch rightly returns to the fold of the show, if not Seattle. But she doesn’t actually have much screentime, and almost none of it tells us anything about her beyond a simple update. Turns out she’s been driving across the Pacific Northwest. Tonight, she brings a guy from the bar up to her hotel room. She’s so sad, and he could not care less, because this is The Killing. Eventually she says her first and, if I’m not mistaken, only words of the season so far: “I don’t want you to go. I want you to stay.” It’s marvelous what Michelle Forbes does with such nothingness. We pan out to reveal the watchful stickers adorning a box of Rosie’s stuff as if it means something. Mitch is also seeing Rosie-like apparitions, but just when you think Lilly Kane might punch this place up, nope, it’s just some girl following awkward stage directions. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

Meanwhile, Stan reenacts season one, this time with Terry. They have a domestic spat that is up there with Dawson crying, where Terry resents Mitch for walking out on her family, even temporarily. Stan says, “She needed to go, Ter. She wasn’t happy.” “Happy? Who the hell’s happy? Are you happy? ‘Cause I’m sure as hell not happy.” In case it wasn't clear from the rest of the show. The press are leaving the Larsens alone now that Richmond’s no longer a suspect, which suggests a whole lot of cynicism completely divorced from the past decade or more of true crime stories, but it’s almost stylistic the way The Killing insists on its adolescent gloominess. Stan’s criminal investigator reveals to him that Rosie was alive in the trunk of the car and only died after it hit the water, prompting both to agree that Stan ought to kill whatever red herring they decide killed Rosie. What could go wrong?

Linden has the heft of the episode, though she’s not really earning her keep. She’s an investigator who doesn’t ask questions, she’s a single mother incapable of juggling basic domestic tasks with work like it’s ‘90s talk radio, and I’m pretty sure she’s not even legally employed in Seattle any more. In a sequence that rivals The Good Wife for comical technophobia, Mireille Enos is playing it beautifully naturalistic on the phone with a police buddy, all humdrum and boring: “I can’t open the attachment.” Without missing a beat, he says, “Click on the button that says ‘Download Attachment.’” We see her screen, with a gigantic blue button right where you’d expect it to be. “Okay, it’s working now.” Mireille Enos is alternatingly awkward and formidable, but Sarah Linden is a complete mess.

Linden’s tracking down her leads of the moment, Rosie’s backpack and the tattoo of the other person in the old footage of Rosie. She tries to see if Stan recognizes the tattoo, but he won’t even look, because he’s still upset that shoddy policework got his best friend killed. The “yada yada yada” was implied. Just before Linden can get what she needs from the shoe store that houses the Beau Soleil servers, the place goes up in flames, and she has a surprisingly lucid moment, ordering the canvassing of the neighborhood’s security cameras. That attachment she has trouble with reveals a Larsen company van arriving at 2:34 A.M. the night of the fire, and who should be driving but the employee attached to the arm branded with manga. If only Stan had looked at the photo! That tattoo is a character named Ogi-Jun, whom Jack gets briefly excited about, recounting the saga of Ogi-Jun avenging his father in war against his former sensei, before the Lifetime music reminds him that he’s not supposed to show enthusiasm around his mother. At least their relationship seems to be improving steadily.

Linden and Holder take a more writerly tack. It seems Belko’s death and Linden’s rejection have caused Holder to reassess some of his choices, so he’s spending time at N.A. and trying to see his kid for a few short minutes. It could be touching, and for a moment it is, but this whole universe is one big raw nerve, so none of the little horrors stand out. Later, he pays a visit to a drug dealer glaringly named Logic. They get riled up, and Holder says, “I’m a cop you stupid son of a bitch. I was working your ass.” Logic tells him, “Even junkie cops need dealers.” He offers a crack pipe, the music starts to squeal, and Holder looks tempted. Suddenly, he smacks the pipe out of his hand and wrestles Logic to the ground of his trashy low-rent domicile. Logic’s mom, a not particularly athletic woman on oxygen, comes out to help, and Holder throws her aside, too. It’s all very high art. Holder swipes a bag of something before leaving, and ends up walking in the middle of the highway when Linden comes to talk him down at the end. “I know you switched the backpack,” she says by way of making amends. Now may not be the time to discuss the forged photo, but I hardly think protecting the backpack from the all-seeing corruption at the police department compensates for the dead and paralyzed bodies in Belko’s wake.

This weekend David Simon spoke about the theme of corrupt Baltimore in his interview with Alan Sepinwall, specifically touching on the idea that a corrupt institution isn’t as scary as an institution working perfectly that encourages or at least has room for behavior at cross purposes with its goals, like it’s never heard of Isaac Asimov. Which is a long way of saying the conspiratorial Seattle Police Department in The Killing isn’t exactly some evil monolithic force. But as Linden’s former lieutenant tells her just before reluctantly handing over the backpack that turns out to be Holder’s decoy, “Half this job is about doing what you’re told. I need my pension, Sarah.” Later, firemen tell Linden there were no computers found at the arson site, and it’s unclear whether the servers were swiped early or if the firemen are giving her a line that would help their own careers in lieu of solving a crime. The arson, it turns out, was an electrical fire. “Faulty wiring. Rain didn’t help.” So The Killing does have a sense of humor. For some reason it doesn’t rain at all during “Numb.” That’s part of why season two feels slightly different, less emphatic and clear-cut. It’s not more complicated than season one, but it’s finally reflecting that complexity in its structure.


Finally, we have the Richmond campaign. Gwen’s father Charles Widmore books her a position with Senator Farrelly’s campaign in Washington D.C. at her behest, so she’s off that night. Jamie’s busy trying to make unfunny dialogue seem believably chuckle-worthy, which isn’t too distracting. He does run a political campaign after all.  And Richmond struggles with paralysis, thinking he feels the heat of sunlight on his legs while having no idea his catheter is full. He’s also flirting with a nurse who says she voted for him. These people are really into their local elections. And we close on the blunt image of a campaign button Richmond stabbed into his own thigh, the blood slowly oozing out. He’s numb. The Killing has that effect on people.

Stray observations:

  • It’s Day 16 of the Rosie Larsen investigation.
  • In a press conference overheard from Richmond’s hospital room, the mayor cannily spins Richmond’s exoneration into a story that’s still pretty murky. He refuses to answer one question, and then someone asks, “What about the waterfront condo?” I don’t remember the specifics, but last year, I was sure that the titular killing was ordered by the bigwig developing the condo. Then I thought it was too obvious, again for reasons I can’t remember, but it does seem to be the only other story Seattle cares about.