The Killing: Undertow

“Undertow” – what a perfect title for this surprisingly action-packed episode. Everyone is being pulled down in the wake of Rosie Larsen’s murder. Her family is drowning, the detectives are desperately treading water, and her accused killer is being held under against his will. Heavy-handed water metaphors aside, nobody is coping very well!

The Case:
The detectives translate the wire-tap conversation between Muhammed and Bennet, which is rife with suspicious dialogue. Muhammed is worried that “they know about the girl”. Bennet assures him, “The police don’t know anything.” It should be enough to arrest Bennet, but Stephen’s judge friend refuses to sign the warrant and the case falls apart. They installed an illegal wiretap under the guise of the Patriot Act and the judge is tired of it being used to cover up sloppy police work.

Unfortunately Sarah already told Mrs. Larson that “it will be over tonight” when she called to ask if Bennet had been arrested yet. I wanted to cringe. The justice system is so unpredictable and making those kinds of promises to victims is irresponsible. Sarah has completely dropped all pretense of professionalism in this case!

Bennet is refusing to be held hostage by the accusations and he shows up at the high school against his boss’s wishes. He tells her she can either let him teach or fire him, but it wasn’t the principal’s wrath he needed to worry about. Someone has written KILLER in large red letters on the white board in his classroom. His students keep their seats just long enough for him to start reading from a text book. Then, one by one, they stand up and file out of the classroom, shooting him icy stares as they walk by.

Even Bennet’s wife has begun to suspect him. After overhearing his conversation with Muhammed, she covertly copies his number from Bennet’s cellphone and gives it to the detectives. Using the number, the detectives track Muhammed to a downtown food market where they chase him down and apprehend him. I LOVED the scene where Stephen is showing Muhammed’s picture to some random person at the market and he just happens to run right by him. I don’t know why, but it really cracked me up. Kind of a goofy farcical moment in the middle of such a serious show.

At the station, Linden and Holder threaten Muhammed until he’s willing to confess … just not to the crime they suspect him of. Aisha, the missing 12-year old girl from the mosque, has been hiding out with him for the past 10 days. He and Bennet helped her escape her overbearing parents who were arranging a marriage and planning to circumcise her. The detectives find the scared young girl at his apartment. So not only is Bennet not a killer or a terrorist, he’s actually kind of a hero!

The Detectives:
There wasn’t much character development for Sarah and Stephen in this episode. Their screen time was consumed by plot twists and discoveries in the case. But there was one nice moment when Linden covered for Holder with the Captain. He was pissed about the illegal wiretap and assumed it was an idiotic idea of Holder’s, but Linden jumped in and took responsibility. This is the first episode where it felt like they were a real team. During all investigations and interrogations they were working with each-other instead of against each-other. When they questioned Muhammed, they developed quite an effective back-and-forth.

The Richmond Campaign
Mayor Adams denies the allegations of infidelity and an illegitimate child. He plays the vasectomy card and chastises Richmond for running a smear campaign. Darren is already regretting his foray to the dark side, wishing he’d had the courage to stick to a positive campaign. Gwen begs Richmond to open up about his wife: “People want to know who you are. They see something in you that is real. Let them understand you.” He still won’t go there. If Lily died in a car crash and there isn’t some dark secret, why is he so reluctant to speak openly about it? Maybe I’m too influenced by the blog generation where people share their inner thoughts with complete strangers just for kicks. But I can’t understand why he wouldn’t share his pain with the people he needs support from.

Darren is distraught when he learns that the Somali Muslim community is being attacked in the wake of terrorist accusations and Bennet’s connection to the Rosie Larsen case. Richmond speaks to the Imam of a defaced mosque and vows to rebuild the community if they continue to support him. But the Imam and his supporters have already soured on Darren’s campaign. “Mayor Adams made the same promise years ago and you both play the same games.”

The up and downs of this campaign are really getting on my nerves. Doesn’t it feel like in every single episode, the team is lamenting that the race is ‘over’ and then pulling a rabbit out of a hat in the last few minutes? And by the next episode the campaign is back in the gutter again. In yet another ‘last ditch effort’, Richmond asks Tom Drexler for five million dollars to rebuild the Somali community; a big gesture he believes will secure him the victory. Drexler doesn’t care about people … or do-gooding … or human decency and all that nonsense. He just wants his name on a damn stadium. He does offer Darren a chance to ‘win’ his money – a basketball free throw worth five million. But if Darren loses, he has to agree to drop out of the race. Drexler is an exasperating caricature who makes me roll my eyes. What is his motivation for being such a dick? If he doesn’t want to give Darren the money, then don’t do it. Why play games, make smarmy comments and spout off about what it means to be a winner? I find it hard to believe anyone would bother with that crap. We don’t see Darren make the shot, but he returns to his office and places the winning basketball on his desk.

The Larsens:
For a few brief wonderful moments it looked like Mitch and Stan were going to bury their resentment. Mitch greeted Stan in the garage when he got home from work and threw her arms around him, telling him Bennet was about to be arrested and it would all be over. Stan looked so grateful to have his wife back in his arms. He could finally see an end to the hell they’d been living through.

But that all changed the next day when Mitch stopped by the high school to return Rosie’s textbooks and saw Bennet walking around free. She retreated back into her pain, sitting in her daughter’s bedroom seething and sobbing. As quickly as she had embraced Stan, she turned on him again and the accusations only got worse. She blamed him for Bennet’s freedom: “That man killed our child and you let him go.” I felt so badly for Stan. He looked like he’d been socked in the jaw. He saw a glimpse of a way out and then it was snatched away. He would do anything to get it back. He and Belko abduct Bennet in the back of their moving van, and this time there is no backing down. Stan throws him to the ground and beats the hell out of him while Bennet begs for mercy and swears he never hurt Rosie. While Stan is brutally smashing in Bennet’s face, Belko is behind him pounding on a large rock for some reason. That kinda threw me. What was the purpose of that? Was he trying to create added ruckus to cover up the sounds of the beating, or releasing his own anger? Either way, it was really weird. Stan was a man possessed. Bennet’s very existence is ruining his life and he was pounding him into oblivion.

Tragically, as her husband is making a bloody mess of Bennet Ahmed, Mitch is desperately trying to get a hold of him to tell him she may have made a mistake. She found Rosie’s Grand Canyon shirt in the laundry … OOPS.

So the Bennet arc, which the show has been following for the last 5 episodes, has finally come to a close. There will no doubt be fallout from the savage beating, but the detectives are back at square one as far as suspects are concerned. The only other clue they have to go by is a note they found in the Qur’an Rosie returned to Bennet – ‘Adela 11:45’. Who is Adela, and was Rosie meeting her that night?

Photo Courtesy of AMC

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