The Killing: El Diablo

In “El Diablo”, it’s been less than a week since Rosie Larsen’s murder and everyone is feeling the painful ripple effects of the tragedy.

The Richmond Campaign
Councilman Darren Richmond’s campaign is in shambles and the press is having a field day with the news of his link to the murder. He’s feeling like a patsy because he played fair with the cops and they screwed him. Detective Linden assures him that the leak didn’t come from the department. Darren becomes intent on locating the mole in his staff, who not only put a black mark on his campaign but cost him an important endorsement by blabbing to the press.

The investigation turns up convincing email evidence that points to Jamie (one of his top campaign guys. I’m not sure his exact role … probably campaign manager or communications guy or something) and Richmond’s chief of staff/booty call buddy Gwen is more than happy to label him a traitor. When confronted, Jamie vehemently denies his involvement and accuses Richmond of thinking with his pants rather than his brain. He swears he’s being set-up and not so subtly points the finger at Gwen.

Richmond’s story isn’t entirely holding my interest at this point. It’s hard to care about a politician’s bid for office with all of the other weighty emotional plots. But I am intrigued by his character. There’s something shady about his past, but he’s been exhibiting a strong moral centre. He refused to use his wife’s death to garner sympathy and his staff has to twist his arm to get him to play dirty. There was a great moment when Jamie suggested he send flowers to the Larsen family as a gesture to regain public support. Richmond just stared out the window and remarked, “No flowers. Flowers Die.” Really made me curious about what makes him tick.

So far I can’t determine the point of his story. If someone in his campaign is the killer it would be too obvious at this point. But if it’s nothing more than a red herring then why are we wasting time on it? I’m hoping a clever, unexpected connection will be revealed later.

The Detectives
After the “The Cage” discovery the detectives begin to suspect the school janitor. He drilled himself a handy little peephole to spy on kids in The Cage and has the unfortunate hobby of showing his junk to young girls.

When they corner him at his apartment he jumps out of a third story window to avoid them. He REALLY did not want to chat about his creepy pastime! But even sleazebags can have airtight alibis and he was sleeping it off in the drunk tank at the time of Rosie’s murder. Luckily he managed to get some quality peeping time in earlier in the evening and was able to identify a kid he saw ‘partying’ with Rosie in The Cage. From his hospital bed he points to Kris Echols’ picture in the yearbook and croaks “El Diablo!”

Kris Echols is a drug addict and a runaway who happens to be best friends with Rosie’s privileged ex-boyfriend Jasper. He also hangs out at a local skate park – a haven for teen rejects and drop-outs – only a few blocks away from where the Richmond campaign car was stolen. When Rosie’s teacher (the same one who kept reappearing in the first two episodes) is anonymously emailed a sex tape of two boys taking turns with Rosie (I didn’t want to study it too closely but it appears that she’s either being raped or is too drugged-up to realize what’s happening) Kris is featured in a starring role. The other boy is wearing a Halloween monster mask – El Diablo! He pulls it off and we can see that it’s Jasper!

Sarah Linden is unable to tear herself away from the case, despite the fact that her fiancé is impatiently waiting on her in California. She keeps threatening to leave but seems trapped in Seattle by more than just her captain’s pleading. She and her son are currently staying on a friend’s (Reggie – who we know nothing about) houseboat. I would bet on a serious tragedy in Sarah’s past. Despite her aloof mannerisms, she’s internalizing the case on a deeper level than empathy. And she’s such a sullen character – even when she’s talking to her fiancé or her son she never seems truly happy. Her half-smiles don’t quite reach her eyes.

In the last scene of the episode she sits alone at her desk, haunted by the flickering images of Rosie’s sex tape playing on her computer.

The Larsens
Of course, no one is suffering more than the Larsens as they struggle to exist in the midst of their worst nightmare. Their grief is excruciating and yet uplifting in some way. It reminds you that humanity is both awful and beautiful. The fact that such pain exists – that we love so deeply and feel loss so profoundly – is what connects us. And there’s something infinitely comforting in that fact. Watching this show reminds me of how I felt while reading “The Lovely Bones”.

The Larsens’ story is told through the small meaningful moments we experience when we’ve lost someone we love. They are gone but the empty spaces they leave behind feel massive and insurmountable.

-Mitch curls up in her daughter’s bed and passes out – the desperate sleep of heartbreaking exhaustion.

-Stan agrees to make chocolate chip pancakes for dinner at his son’s request, as if indulging the children he has left will quell his pain slightly.

-Rosie’s little brother Tommy asks Stan “How did Rosie die?” But when he sees the pained expression on his father’s face he says, “It’s okay Dad, you don’t have to talk about it.” How touching is it when your kids realize you need them to be stronger than you?

-Mitch wakes up to the sound of Rosie’s voice on the answering machine and for a split second she appears confused, as if maybe she’s just waking up from a bad dream. She stumbles out into the hallway, kneels beside the machine and continues to play the message over and over.

-Sarah has just informed Mitch and Stan that Rosie’s cause of death was drowning and Mitch is staring quietly and desperately out the window. Sarah has to ask them whether it’s possible Rosie was using drugs and for the first time in the conversation Mitch turns and looks right at her, saying “no” in a passionate and determined whisper; defending her daughter’s honour.

-Tommy is setting the table and accidentally sets an extra place for Rosie. There’s an awkward silence as Stan looks down at the plate before Tommy apologizes. Stan quietly tells him to leave it.

-Mitch is taking a bath and she submerges herself beneath the water. Is she imagining what it was like for Rosie as she drowned? She comes back up sputtering and gasping for air and starts to sob over the edge of the tub.

Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton are brilliant in their roles! Mitch is a zombie who feels like she should be helping her husband but is barely managing to function. Stan is forcing himself to be the rock, but is teetering on the edge, with barely concealed rage simmering beneath the surface.

Next Week:
Kris and Jasper are going to be spending some quality time in the hot seat. There’s no way we’re discovering the killer this early in the game, but are either of them concealing a crucial piece of information?

Photo Courtesy of AMC

3 thoughts on “The Killing: El Diablo

  1. I think the sex tape was on Jasper’s phone. The teacher took it away at the beginning of class then Jasper left the room chasing after Sterling then found it later when the phone rang. I think. That was a little muddled.

    Nice recap. I hope this episode didn’t turn off too many people. It was necessary to move the story along, but I didn’t feel like it had the same pull as the first two hours.

    I’m hooked, but we might have lost some of the more Ritalin deprived folks out there.

  2. Yes! I erased my recording and then realized I didn’t quite understand what happened with the phone and the sex recording. That makes way more sense. Thanks!

  3. I have always felt Richmond killed her. He changes when he is faced with his wife’s death and Rosie died on or close to the anniversary of her death. I think Rosie met him and was having somewhat of a relationship with him. She has the same music in her collection and laptop as what he plays at his home (Alanna Cherote). There is the photo of her shaking his hand (he denied even meeting her). Her taking the bus and going to one of his rally sites..or whatever it was called.

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