Episode Title: ‘Ogi Jun’
Writer: Jeremy Doner
Director: Phil Abraham
Previously on “The Killing”:
‘Ogi Jun’ kicks off right where ‘Numb’ left off, with detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) going through Rosie Larsen’s backback for clues. They find little of interest… for now. This episode’s all about finding the owner of the manga tattoo found in Rosie’s home movie footage, and it stays pretty focused on that task.
A stakeout leads Linden and Holder to quickly catch up with the plot, connecting Stan Larsen’s (Brent Sexton) new work force with Stan’s old mob boss Janek Kovarsky (Don Thompson). Back at the Larsen home, Tommy (Evan Bird), is turning into a holy terror, sassing his frazzled aunt Terry (Jamie Lynn Allman) and locking his terrified brother in the trunk of the family car. As the episode progresses, Stan deals with Belko’s funeral arrangements and learns that Tommy is getting bullied in school over his sister’s death. Stan proposes an unexpected but practical solution: punch the biggest bully in the face. Take that, The Bully Project.
The Janek connection leads Linden and Holder to the FBI, who inform them that Stan was released from the mob on the condition that he perform one final hit. They track down the victim’s widow, who seems vindicated that Stan’s daughter was murdered. After an interlude with Linden, who learns her ex-husband is suing for custody of their son, Linden and Holder ask Rosie’s high school friend Sterling (Kacey Rohl) for information on the tattooed man. It turns out that he used to stalk Rosie across from her house, and that he spent time in prison, and that Sterling never thought to mention something that creepy after her best friend was murdered.
Following the trail to a juvenile correctional facility, Linden and Holder interrogate the tattoo artist responsible for the Ogi Jun, who identifies the recipient as Alexi Giffords. Giffords spent years in foster care, which makes Linden particularly moody throughout the episode, since she also grew up “in the system.” (She knows about candy bars and everything.) Giffords now lives three blocks away from the Larsens. They stake out his apartment and go through back channels to look at his juvenile record, which legally speaking is closed. Apparently, this is Linden going “rogue.”
During a routine cleaning of his trucks, Stan discovers lighter fluid and wiring, and swiftly comes to the conclusion that Janek was behind the Beau Soleil arson job. He confronts Janek and accuses him of killing Rosie, which is a bit of a cognitive leap but at least he’s catching up, while Giffords (Tyler Johnson) quietly sneaks away in the background. Holder chases Giffords down the street and loses him. Meanwhile, Linden acquires Giffords’ file and discovers that he’s the son of the man Stan Larsen killed. The episode ends with a search of Giffords’ apartment, in which Linden discovers a hand-drawn picture of Rosie, scratched out. It’s not as ominous as it sounds.
And oh no, we didn’t forget: Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) spends another episode dealing with his disability, putting Jamie (Eric Laden) through the ringer and sitting through the “sympathy” of his rival, Mayor Lesley Adams (Tom Butler), before accusing Adams of setting him up to the police, and by extension getting him shot.
‘Ogi Jun’ is the first episode of the second season that doesn’t feel like it’s trying to undo the events of the first season finale, so it moves at a brisk pace and the investigation actually winds up in a different place than where it started. It’s is a refreshing change of pace, and indicates that “The Killing” may be getting back on track, but it’s hardly a series highlight. You know you’ve got problems when the cliffhanger to the episode involves finding a drawing of Rosie Larsen in the suspected murderer’s apartment, like it’s some kind of shock that he knew her. It’s a far cry from some of the season one highlights, like getting arrested in a human trafficking dungeon or, you know, shooting one of the series’ leads.
The murder mystery is very focused this week on two leads, Stan’s hitman past and the finding the man with the manga tattoo, two subplots that come neatly and satisfyingly together at the conclusion. The Larsen family is becoming a soap opera though: Stan’s secret past, Mitch’s infidelity and Terry’s secret life of a call girl are getting so elaborate that their subplot feels increasingly contrived. Initially, the Larsen’s were a welcome addition to the show, dealing naturally and emotionally to the death of their daughter. That’s the kind of thing most cop shows do away with in a scene or two before getting on with the procedural aspect. Now, only the two Larsen boys seem clean from overplotting, since the odds of discovering that they’re wanted by the CIA or used to operate an illegal S&M club seem pretty darned low.
Which brings us to Darren Richmond. If the Larsen family is a soap opera, poor Billy Campbell must be trapped in a TV movie of the week, going through all the familiar – and admittedly empathetic – motions of turning away his friends, blaming other people for his problems (with some cause, in this case), and dealing with the shame of his newfound affliction. While the Larsens are getting implausibly melodramatic, at least their stories are moving forward. Richmond might be trapped in a hospital bed, and understandably unmotivated to do anything that doesn’t involve self-pity, he needs to at least metaphorically get off his ass to save his subplot from becoming a drinking game. (Meaningful glance? Drink. Lashing out at anyone trying to help him? Drink.)
While the side stories are getting a little too far up their own butts for “The Killing’s” good lately, having Holder and Linden back together again is a treat. Their “Good Cop/Distracted Cop” routine elicits some welcome chuckles, and the sexual tension is minimal but appreciated. Whiny Holder is a lot better than Broody Holder, and Proactive Linden is a blessing compared to Paranoid Linden. The events of ‘Ogi Jun’ qualify as actual police work, although Linden’s going to have a lot of red tape on her hands if anyone discovers that she illegally opened her suspect’s juvenile records.
As for where we stand with the murder suspects, it’s important to remember that at this point Rosie Larsen’s actual murderer is not the point of the series. With this many dangling plot threads, there’s no way that a mere “that guy did it” is going to satisfy anyone. It’s conceivable, though unlikely, that Giffords was the actual triggerman, but the conspiracy at foot – which may have begun before or after Rosie’s actual murder, don’t forget – is a separate entity that will need to get sorted out by itself, and probably only after the actual culprit as been identified. A lot of people are upset that the murderer isn’t going to be revealed until the final episode of season two, but if nothing else, “The Killing” is currently working overtime to keep us occupied before and after that fateful scene occurs. ‘Ogi Jun’ was a step in the right direction, but an episode with few actual highlights, making it a pleasing piece of the whole but hardly a stellar night of television on its own.
Photo Credit: Cate Cameron/AMC