The Killing: What You Have Left

Rosie Larsen was finally laid to rest this week in “What you Have Left”, but no-one has found the peace they are searching for.

The Case:
Possession of cleaning solution and a weak alibi isn’t enough to bring Bennet Ahmed in, so the detectives start chatting up his neighbours. They are able to place Rosie Larsen at his apartment on the night of the dance. When confronted, Bennet’s flimsy excuse involves Rosie dropping by to return a generic English novel. But Sarah pulls footage of the dance which places Bennet at the school while Rosie was arriving at his place, so he couldn’t have been there to let her in.

But hey, as long as the cops are in the neighbourhood, they might as well do something about the creep in the apartment across the road who has been using his telescope for everything BUT stargazing. Turns out this is one time where a dirty old man’s Rear Window extra-curriculars paid off! On the night of Rosie’s murder, he watched Bennet carry a motionless girl wrapped in a blanket into his car and drive off … and he wasn’t alone! A woman was with him. The detectives surmise that it was Amber, Bennet’s wife, who was supposed to be spending the night at her sister’s house. If she arrived home early and found Rosie Larsen waiting for her husband, she could have lost it and attacked her. When Bennet came back from the dance, he would have helped her cover it up. The detectives go back to the Ahmed’s apartment and knock repeatedly but Amber doesn’t come to the door. She’s slumped against the wall in a dark corner, cradling a hammer. Okay, she may not be guilty, but this girl is not right in the head!

The Detectives:
Stephen took some recent criticism to heart and showed up for work wearing a crumpled suit that he pulled from a plastic bag in his trunk. Unfortunately he’s had the brightly coloured atrocity since he was 19 and the chief thinks, “You look like you donate plasma for a living.” He switches back to his dirty hoodie pretty quickly.

Later in the episode he meets with a friend in his car, who is likely a counselor, or perhaps an AA sponsor. Stephen makes a confession that reveals a lot about his state of mind. “It’s like there’s two of me and one of them one knows exactly what to do in every situation. The problem is that it always ends up in the same place. And then there’s the other me, the one I’m supposed to be. He’s just weak.” His friend inquires about the Larsen case and drops a big bomb on Stephen – 18 years ago, Stan Larsen worked as ‘muscle’ for the Kovarsky crime family. That’s pretty much what I suspected, but Stephen had no clue. Nothing came up in a background check because “dead men don’t press charges”.

Sarah is still telling herself that she and Jack will be on the non-refundable flight to California tonight and yet she sits at her desk starting at photos of Rosie Larsen and a pile of other missing girls. Is she suspecting that there might be a connection to other crimes or just haunted by unsolved disappearances? Jack is convinced they won’t be on their flight and she bets him 15 million dollars they will. Well, I’ll bet her an unsolved murder mystery and the remainder of a stellar TV season that she’s wrong!

The pieces of Sarah’s troubled life are falling into place for the viewers and we learn that her friend Reggie used to be her social worker when she was a teen. Reggie accuses Sarah of relying too heavily on an inner strength that could be detrimental to her. “That look, 15 years old and you already had that look on your face, the already learned to live alone look.” She’s worried that Sarah’s self-reliance keeps her isolated. Was Sarah a child from an abusive home? Perhaps her compassion for young female victims and her singular focus on bringing them justice is a battle against her own past. Reggie makes a surprising comment to Sarah before taking Jack out for a day of fun on the water: “You almost lost him Sarah, don’t let it happen again.” Interesting … I can picture a few different scenarios. Either Jack had a close call with death and that’s part of why Sarah is on a crusade for other people’s children, or there was some sort of custody battle or court decision where Jack was almost taken away from her.

The Richmond Campaign:
After weeks of waffling, Darren Richmond’s moral code finally shoots him in the foot. The principal of Rosie Larsen’s school pays him a special visit to inform him that the cops are looking at Bennet Ahmed as a possible suspect and warns him to keep his distance. Bennet is part of Richmond’s community program that supports teens and sports, which is why he was front and center in the campaign commercial. But Darren isn’t ready to back away from Bennet, make him look guilty and possibly ruin his life. Being ‘looked at’ isn’t the same as being a murderer and it’s an important distinction for Darren. Who is he if he sacrifices his beliefs? Jamie, who is back on the campaign, tries to scream some sense into him: “Who you are is five words. Dead girl in a trunk!” Jamie takes some desperate measures, including calling in Gwen’s father, the Senator, who warns Darren that as much as the party likes him, he’ll have no future if he can’t prove that he can win.

Despite all the pleadings, Darren walks right into the Mayor’s trap during their big televised debate. He’s baited into hyping his community programs and the Mayor, who has managed to find out about Bennet, accuses Darren of associating with a killer. Darren doesn’t back down and his staff helplessly watches his campaign go down in flames.

So where will they go from here with Darren Richmond? Does he still have a shot at the Mayor’s office or will the focus of his story shift? I still wonder what ‘the point’ is, but maybe it’s as simple as watching the ripple effects of a tragedy. Even people outside the family can be affected by such a horrific act. I’m still hoping for more … but we’ll see.

The Larsens:
I cringed and had to look away during the very first scene of the episode, in which Rosie Larsen’s body was being prepared for the funeral services. They really didn’t show much, just the mortician brushing Rosie’s hair, hooking a necklace around her neck and folding her hands on her chest. But there was one awful shot of him snapping fake nails onto Rosie’s mangled fingertips to replace the one she clawed off in her desperate attempt to escape from the trunk. Powerful shot, but I couldn’t force myself to look at it full on.

As the Larsen family is preparing for the funeral, they are steeling themselves for the emotional ‘punch in the gut’ to come:

Favourite Moments:
– Stan and Belko are clearing out their workspace to make room for guests at the wake. Stan keeps lifting these massive boxes on his own, one after the other, despite Belko’s offers of help. As if putting his body through physical pain might lessen his emotional trauma.

– Mitch stands in front of her closet shuffling through dress after dress, needing to pick something yet knowing it couldn’t matter less. Her sister finally chooses something and helps Mitch put it on, dressing her like a little girl and telling her she looks pretty. There’s real comfort in being nurtured and taken care of when you’re too exhausted to take care of yourself.

– Mitch and Stan get into an argument about when Rosie gave Stan the cufflinks he’s planning to wear to her funeral. It started off as a sweet reminiscence about Rosie as a little girl, proudly presenting her father with a gift. But it turns heated when they can’t agree on how old she was and whether the cufflinks were a Christmas or Father’s Day present. Personally, I thought this was the most heartbreaking moment of the episode. They were locked in a contest about whose memories of their dead child were fresher, stronger, more real. Neither of them wanted to be the one to forget. Of course they broke down in tearful apologies, but the cracks are starting to show.

– Mitch coming down the stairs in her black dress as Stan waits for her at the bottom to escort her to the funeral. It was a chilling echo of those ubiquitous prom scenes where the girl descends the staircase to meet her handsome crush, excited for the best night of her life. This is the kind of nightmare date that everyone dreads.

It was really effective that the funeral services were not shown and even the burial scene was silent, short and understated. All of the focus was on the pain surrounding the event, rather than the service itself. The Larsens kept the funeral just for family and friends and it felt like a private moment that even the viewers weren’t invited to. Out of respect for the Larsens, we were kept at a distance.

There were a couple of touching moments with Rosie’s brother Tommy. As the men carried Rosie’s casket into the church he says, “Dad, can I help?” and the men make room for him on the coffin. At the burial site, as the family prepares to leave, Tommy angrily crushes a large bug in the dirt. He had no control over the death of his sister or the pain of his family, but he can play god in the life and death of a creepy crawly.

The tension escalates to nail biting levels at the wake when Belko receives the phone call he’s been waiting for from his source at the police department. Belko walks over to Stan and whispers in his ear, “He says it’s the teacher, Bennet Ahmed, the black guy standing behind you right now.” Bennet is indeed in attendance, snacking on some food and talking on his cell phone. I was expecting an angry confrontation, screaming accusations, punches – Stan being dragged off of Bennet by bystanders. But instead Stan walks over to Bennet and starts to circle him in a calm, predatory fashion. It was so eerie, I actually got goosebumps and if I were Bennet, I would have started running right then. Instead Bennet puts down the phone, shakes Stan’s hand and offers his condolences again. Stan offers to give Bennet a ride home, and Bennet protests, but Stan says he’d be doing him a favour because he has to get some air. And so they leave the wake together. Absolutely nothing good can come of this!!!

The one thing I found out of place in this episode were the scenes with Mitch’s sister, Terry. Jasper’s (Rosie’s rich ex-boyfriend) parents came to pay their respects and she rushes over to say hi to Jasper’s father with this goofy grin on her face. He and his wife just turn away coldly and don’t acknowledge her greeting. So was Terry having an affair with him or something? Wounded by his rebuttal she starts smoking and chugging wine. She cruelly snaps at Belko who is minding Tommy and Denny and making sure they eat. “You do realize you’re not part of this family right?” So far we know next to nothing about Terry and the wake just didn’t feel like the right place to start exploring her character flaws. Her prominent place in the end of episode montage, as she sat along crying, was weird.

Side note: I hate to say it, but I’m getting suspicious of Belko. He’s so close to the Larsens, practically a surrogate member of the family. At the burial site he was the only person there not directly related to Rosie. Is he TOO close to them? Are there any jealousy and resentment issues he’s struggling with? Did he have an unnatural attachment to Rosie that he took too far? I’m staying away from the’ suspect tracker’ on the AMC website because I don’t want too many outside thoughts in my head while I watch these episodes. But I do like to speculate every once in a while. 😉

When Stephen Holder tells Sarah Linden that Stan was a hit man for the mob, she freaks out. She realizes that he’ll go after Bennet if he finds out he’s a suspect. She tries to call Bennet to warn him but he left his cell phone at the Larsens’ house. The detectives burst into the wake and discover that Bennet left alone with Stan.

Sarah throws on the siren and goes after them, but it may be too late. Stan has long since passed the exit to Bennet’s home and he’s silently driving further from civilization with while Bennet isn’t sure what is going on or what the hell to do about it. Man is Stan scary!

Best cliffhanger so far!

Photo Courtesy of AMC

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