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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Manipulation & Bullies On AMC's The Killing: 72 Hours & The Bulldog

Like a dream: Linden slowly awakens, feels a bump on her head. Notices bars crossing the windows. She rises from a hospital cot. her movement at first appears unnatural, almost alien. Her pace quickens down the hall to a locked doorway and on the other side we read "Psychiatry Acute Ward."

Linden was knocked out after breaking into the 10th floor of the casino.  Chief Jackson claims Sarah tried to kill herself and now Linden is on suicide watch. We could see the breakdown coming, but who knew Sarah would actually be hospitalized under false pretenses? Through this episode Holder  makes every attempt to have her released: he makes demands on Lieutenant Carlson; visits Regi, but she refuses to help insisting this is what Sarah needs. As the episode unravels and Holder begins putting two and two together regarding the Waterfront Project, he manages to convince the Lieutenant to have Linden released, which can only be done by her doctor. And here, most clever I think on the part of the writers, we see Rick, Sarah's fiance come to the hospital and sign the papers ("She know I'm here... I"ll help get her out, but I can't be involved anymore. She's your responsibility now.) Dr. Rick Felder. Throughout the hospital scenes Sarah's ability to use manipulation as a strategy for survival becomes more evident and by the time Felder arrives we as viewers can see how easy it was for  him to love her. 

At first Sarah is belligerent, wanting only to accomplish one goal: leave the hospital and continue working the Larsen case. Dr. Carey is "...not here to keep you against your will..." and she works very hard to retrieve information from Sarah, tap into her deeper emotional being that causes the unhealthy obsession she's developed with the Larsen case, and one from her past. The mysterious drawing we've seen since the beginning: the treeline. Questioning continue on both sides as Dr. Carey slowly draws out a response here or there, connecting Sarah's cases to her own childhood:

"Why do these two cases mean so much to you?"
Impatient pause of silence.
"I've been cooperative, I've answered your questions and now I'd like to know when I'm getting out of here."
The doctor suggests taking a break, but Sarah is angry: "No- you said all I had to do was talk and then you'd let me go."
"Well, I think you need to stay here for a little bit longer."
"How much longer?"
"Possibly through the end of the week. You need to rest, eat, get into a normal routine."
"You can't keep me here. I did what you asked. I answered your questions, and now I need to leave."
"It's not a punishment to be here-"
"You can't keep me here! I need to get out of here right now. You lied to me...don't you touch me... what are you doing.. you promised me... I shouldn't be here."

Between intermittent dialogue Sarah is carried out of the office by hospital staff. Here, we see the breakdown occur: she is trapped, cannot work on the case, but it is possible that her own childhood memories are coming into play here; the abandonment she felt by her mother and discovered by child protective services alone in that apartment. It's almost as though she is that child again, but also speaking for the other children she has met along the way either living or deceased; their cry too: "You lied to me... don't you touch me... what are you doing... you promised me... I shouldn't be here."

After dinner, Sarah is more willing to speak to Dr. Carey, but whether she does this to appease the doctor or because she wants to talk, is unreadable. She talks about the Larsen case, which Dr. Carey connects to Adrian, the little boy who continually drew the treeline picture when Sarah found him. And then Dr. Carey brings up Sarah's mother.
"Sarah, maybe, what they went through is something you relate to. Have you ever thought about that?"
"What? I told you why it matters." (The change in Sarah's tone here signifies manipulation; she appeared passive, spoke quietly with a shaking voice, but suddenly turns solid and cold without warning.)

"Let's talk about your mother. Why she abandoned you."
"You sit there in that chair across from me thinking you'll get to the heart of it. That you can help me, that you can save me. You must feel good thinking that. Justifying your little life like that."

As they continue to discuss Sarah's past, a hospital worker comes to the door. Once the opportunity to leave arrives Sarah shuts down, weighing her options quickly and again, she rises, exits the room, walking quietly; she has escaped her memories and no longer needs to reveal anything. When she sees Rick it is possibly one of the saddest moments of the series. As Sarah comes down the stairs, the Linden we know well in her usual jeans, sweater and winter coat, she sees Rick signing the papers at the desk window. Her eyes widen, he smiles at her slightly and signs the papers as her hands touch the glass, reaching out to him. By the time she enters the lobby Rich is gone. We see her glance about the room, her face sullen, the dark cavernous circles beneath her eyes quiver with a chance of tears, until her face falls on Holder. They exit and it's back to 'normal.

And that brings us "The Bulldog."



Last week's episode, Bulldog, is a testament to the word "boss." Characters flex their  intimidation muscles with threats and determination: Linden and Holder get the federal warrant through a request to Gwen, which she successfully obtains by threatening her father by going public with Mayor Adams' sexual assault all those years ago. Mayor Adams invades Richmond's campaign office, revealing to Darren that he knows where he was the night of the Larsen murder and if he doesn't resign, the Mayor will reveal how "weak" Darren was to attempt suicide and he'll never practice politics again. Perhaps the greatest threat of all, Yanik's visit to Stan's place and his threat against Stan's family if he does not take someone out on Yanik's behalf. 

"I learned from the best."
                            -Gwen Eaton

Thanks to Gwen, the federal warrant is granted. Linden, Holder and the FBI enter sacred ground and head to the casino's tenth floor to start digging and uncover the single piece of evidence that may be the final link between politics and the Larsen murder. Last week left us with the image of contractors working in the room, pounding nails, laying plywood.  Linden directs the FBI to tear up the floors. As Chief Jackson looks on exhibiting anger and confidence that nothing will be found, Linden finds the key card, but admits nothing. One of the best scenes of the episode is when Chief Jackson is shown the security tapes and  we see Linden holding the card up to the elevator camera, smirking all the while as she places it into an evidence bag. In Holder's car they discuss the limited options they have in using the card to gain justice, but they can't get the blood on the card tested, or turn it over the the Seattle Police; Linden began the play in the elevator, revealing her findings and now, with the election in 24 hours, and the Mayor's threat against Darren to back out of the race or else, the biggest curiosity is, who does the card belong to?

"You have until 9PM to withdraw from the race. Or by then the whole country will know what a coward you are."
                       -Mayor Lesley Adams

During the course of tonight's episode, Mayor Adams shows up at Richmond campaign headquarters and reveals to Darren that he is aware of Darren's whereabouts the night of the Larson murder.  Darren tells Gwen and Jamie that he's going to withdraw from the race. Darren explains where he was that night, that he tried committing suicide. After Jamie storms out of the office, Darren tells Gwen "I wasn't planning to do anything."  Later at the rally, Darren Richmond dispels all rumors on his whereabouts the night of the Larsen murder:

"Most of you know that I had a brush with the law recently... I was released because I had an alibi, which was sealed..." Although Jamie believed this announcement to be political suicide, it actually presented Darren as more of a human being than the Mayor ever could be.  "Everyone of us has stood on the bridge, at one time or another." The act of giving up, but then realizing your purpose and why  life must continue upon finding the strength in your weaknesses. At the end of the episode we see that the key card does not open the Mayor Adams' office, but someone else that will not be revealed until next week... however, we know from the contents of the office that it belongs to someone working the Richmond campaign. Is it Jamie? Gwen?  The idea of someone in the Richmond camp playing both sides was presented in season one through the email communication that connected Eutanis' nephew to the Mayor. Now, we see a far deeper cut and previews for next week suggest Linden is either going to Mayor Adams to make a deal "We have a common enemy" or she too, will play both sides, roll the dice, see where guilt rises from the water..

"If anything happens to me, I want you to take care of the boys... you're good with the Ter- and they love you. You're a natural."

                                   -Stan Larsen

Janik Kovarsky, Alexi and another Russian mob cohort shows up at Stan's place. Janik dismisses his henchmen, telling them to take Stan's dog for a walk. Janik demands that Stan kill someone and basically threatens to kill Stan's family, even their new bulldog, if he doesn't follow through with the kill. A devastated Alexi overhears Stan admit that he killed Alexi's father on Janik's orders, foreshadowing what is to come. Later, after a brief scene in the park, Stan leaves Terry with the boys, dressed in their Halloween costumes, stating his wishes if anything should happen to him. We know Stan leaves for the kill. He waits for the victim outside the man's home and heads to the rear of the car where he sees a baby girl in the backseat, a reminder that this is where it all begins- each character a product of their own environment. With defeat, Stan begins to back away, but the victim sees Stan's gun in the sideview mirror.  Stan beats his head against the steering wheel, telling  him to get out of Seattle and never come back. Next we see Janik get in his car after watching this scene between Stan and the target unfold. A gun immediately goes to the back of Janik's head and guess what, it's not Stan, but Alexi. He takes revenge for his own father's murder and kills Janik. Stan is free (not from the law) or so we hope, but what will happen to Alexi?

Suggested meal: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, corn, a roll and a slop of gravy eaten very quickly.

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