Episode Title: “Keylela”
Directed by: Nicole Kassell
Written by: Dan Nowak
Previously on “The Killing”:
Episode 2.07 opens with Detectie Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and her son Jack (Liam James) staying over at Detective Stephen Holder’s apartment. Jack seems happy in this environment, but Linden is preoccupied with the whole “threat” thing. Holder asks if the picture attached to her refrigerator, which motivated the move in the first place, has any relation to Linden’s mysterious, possibly mentally-unbalanced past, but Jack’s mum remains mum. Outside the window, we see that the mysterious figure who has been watching them is in fact Robert Drays (Patti Kim), the security chief at the Wapi Eagle Casino.
Over breakfast burritos, Linden spies a book in Holder’s possession about monarch butterflies, and begins to speculate that Rosie Larsen might have witnessed something she shouldn’t have while filming their migration at the Native American reservation. She also gets a call regarding Rosie Larsen’s last known phone message, which was most likely recorded at a construction site. Linden and Holder plan to investigate the reservation, with Holder drumming up intelligence at the casino while Linden investigates the grounds where Rosie might have seen something she shouldn’t have. Along the way, they argue over Linden’s mental health.
Linden doesn’t get far in her half of the investigation, running into Nicole Jackson (Claudia Ferri), the manager of the Wapi Eagle Casino. She tells Linden the story of a Native American girl who died because of her curiosity, then reveals that in real life, the girl was merely assaulted by the White Man. She drives Linden off the island and warns her not to come back. Linden returns to her hotel to find Jack accompanied by Child Services agents, who are concerned with how much time Jack spends alone. Jack escapes out the bathroom window, and Linden runs off with her son, jeopardizing her custody.
Holder’s adventures lead him to seek prostitutes within the casino, in the hopes that they will lead him to the construction site. After getting rebuffed by an older call girl… er, woman… he finally gets the help he needs from a homosexual prostitute, who indicates that construction was underway on the tenth floor of the casino. Along the way, Holder encounters a maid (The New World’s Q’Orianka Kilcher) who offers him a book of matches with a time to meet up the next day scribbled on them. As she departs out the elevator, she says something about Rosie’s backpack. But before Holder can track her down, he’s apprehended by casino security. They take Holder out to the woods and beat the crap out of him, while phoning Linden to make sure she gets the message.
Meanwhile, the Richmond campaign is finally off and running again. Gwen (Kristin Lehman) and Jamie (Eric Ladin) confront Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) to convince him to publically exonerate Darren Richmond in each exchange for political favors, lowering his upcoming prison sentence. Stan refuses unless he sees the offer in writing, and Gwen and Jamie admit to Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) that they were bluffing all along. Richmond apologizes to Stan for the deception and encourages him to make people care about Rosie’s death for reasons beyond selling papers. Stan, having thrown his sister-in-law Terry (Jamie Anne Allman) out of the house for her involvement in Beau Soleil, ultimately shows up the press conference anyway, and while he never actually says anything about Richmond not being the killer, he does make a statement about wishing to find the person who murdered his daughter, and the disgusting behavior of the paparazzi.
We may need to replace “Dark Linden” with “Dumb Linden” at this point. We still don’t know the nature of her mental instability, beyond an obsession with a murder victim, but it’s causing her to do increasingly idiotic things. Conspiracy or no conspiracy, dodging Child Services and running away with a child who’s supposed to be in protective custody goes beyond “renegade” and lands smack dab in the middle of “Why the hell would you do that?”
Linden’s psychological issues, combined with the very real conspiracy against her, have made her behave in ways that are increasingly pitiful. It’s a bold choice, but without knowing exactly what’s causing her to behave this way, it’s easy to judge her harshly and get distracted by her illogical decision-making.
As for the episode itself, “Keylela” moves the casino subplot forward while ignoring most of the rest of the investigation, giving the show a very episodic feel that makes it a little forgettable compared to the rest of the series. Highlights include Holder’s awkward prostitution moments (he really lucked out with Alona Tal last season, didn’t he?) and a refreshingly lighthearted early scene with Holder and the Lindens acting like a de facto family, but aside from Q’Orianka Kilcher’s introduction the episode doesn’t seem to introduce any new elements to the investigation. The casino is still bad and full of prostitutes, but we either knew or suspected those things before. “Keylela” plays like an excuse to end on a life-threatening cliffhanger, which the series would benefit from if it weren’t for a lack of forward momentum.
There’s just not much to say about “Keylela.” It feels like “The Killing” is once again spinning its wheels, which isn’t something you should be able to say about a serialized narrative with only a handful of episodes to go before the finale. The episode is light on humor, almost devoid of revelation, and while it obsesses less with some of the more annoying aspects of the series, like Richmond’s rehabilitation, it just doesn’t stand out in the mind. It’s the kind of television episode you can watch while doing a crossword puzzle or sweeping the living room. Background noise, which desperately needs to crescendo into something actually worth paying attention to.
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC