Episode Title: ‘Sayonara, Hiawatha’
Director: Phil Abraham
Writer: Nicole Yorkin & Dawn Prestwich
Previously on “The Killing”:
“Sayonara, Hiawatha” opens with Detective Holder (Joel Kinnaman) sneaking into the precinct to try to steal Rosie Larsen’s key, so he and Sarah Linden (formerly “Detective” Sarah Linden) can investigate the mysterious 10th floor of the Wapi Eagle Casino. But the evidence, he’s told, has already been moved to county.
Linden spies Gil Sloane (Brian Markinson), Holder’s old Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, leaving the precinct and putting something in his trunk. As you can imagine, they suspect a cover up and approach Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) for his help in gaining access to the casino, since he has connections to Nicole Jackson (Claudia Ferri), but their efforts are rebuffed. As they leave, Linden tries to guilt Richmond into doing the right thing.
The evidence never made it to county, leading Holder and Linden to suspect Sloane has hidden it. Holder appears at Sloane’s apartment to threaten him, but it’s all a diversion so Linden can steal the GPS from his car. They track his movements to a storage locker and after a lengthy search find Rosie’s key to the Casino.
Meanwhile, Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) is called his sons’ school, where Tommy (Evan Bird) has been suspended for killing baby birds. This leads to an argument as Stan stakes his sons home. The words “I hate you” are spoken on both sides. Later, Stan reconciles with Tommy, and assures his sons – who are starting to think that everyone’s going to leave them – that he’s not going anywhere. Also meanwhile, Mitch Larsen (Michelle Forbes) finally visits David Rainer (Jonathan Cake), who is somehow unaware that Rosie has been murdered.
He reveals that Rosie had been visiting him and asking questions about her mother’s past. He also says that she was planning to go away on a long trip to California to follow the migration of the Monarch butterflies. Before Mitch leaves, David asks if Rosie is his daughter, and she lies. Finally, she calls Stan and tells him what she’s learned, and asks about her sons, but no closure comes of it.
On the political side of things, Darren Richmond, once again interested in running a clean campaign, refuses to make a deal with Nicole Jackson that would allow her to develop tax-exempt businesses within the city limits, but does try to get Linden and Holder access to the casino in the process. He fails, and Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman) resorts to blackmailing Mayor Lesley Adams (Tom Butler) with the story that he raped her when she was 14, threatening to tell her Senator father. Adams feels distinctly unthreatened, telling Gwen that her father already knew all about it.
At the end of the episode, Linden finally breaks into the hotel after their informant, Mary, fails to show up to assist them. Holder creates a distraction and she heads up to the 10th floor, putting together Rosie’s frame of mind on the night she died and finally locating a piece of evidence, a city hall key card that could implicate Adams’ campaign, and possibly Adams himself. Before she can acquire it, she is attacked in the dark.
Watching “Sayonara, Hiawatha,” the best episode of “The Killing” so far this season, has only made the series’ flaws clearer. This show was at its best in Season One, when every episode was focused as much on the murder investigation as it was on the secrets that the investigation unearthed. In other words, all the things that made “Twin Peaks” so great, apart from all the earthy quirk.
There’s an exquisite tragedy in the good-natured ignorance of David Rainer (although how he’s gone for weeks without hearing the news is questionable), and a subversive, horrifying thrill in the revelation of Gwen’s molestation, and her father’s potential involvement. As horrifying as it is, the plot point represents the kind of operatic storytelling that once defined a series that has since plummeted down a rabbit hole of conventionality.
For weeks now I’ve been saying that for “The Killing” to avoid turning into an absolute debacle, the series would have to pull out all the stops in the finale. “Sayonara, Hiawatha” is an encouraging step in that direction. With Linden out of a job, and Holder given suspiciously little to do now that he’s off the murder investigation, our heroes are at last free to do whatever they want to solve the Rosie Larsen killing, finally tying the show’s A-story back in with the political subplot which seemed to be spinning its wheels for weeks and weeks. It didn’t quite come together, but simply seeing Linden and Holder asking Darren Richmond for help was such a refreshing piece of forward momentum that it felt like The Avengers finally getting together.
Also appreciated was the renewed emphasis, and forward progression, of the Larsen family’s attempts to deal with Rosie’s death. Tommy’s been heading for “Dexter”-ville for a while now, and “Sayonara, Hiawatha” deals with his increasingly troubling issues with some fairness. And it’s nothing short of a relief that Mitch Larsen’s subplot finally has something to do with the actual plot of the show. Giving her some time to act out and make questionable personal decisions was fine, but stretching it over half the season was interminable.
On an unrelated note, I’m not going to accuse the makers of “The Killing” of anything as crass as racial insensitivity, but two episodes with Native American puns in the title, combined with the now-prevalent plot thread of tying a reservation to a criminal conspiracy and violent murder, is getting a bit much. As long as the showrunners can resist naming a future episode something like “Trail of Fears” I think they can wash the stink off, but there’s being cute and then there’s being a dick about it.
With the disparate plot threads finally coalescing and some of the more interminable storylines finally at a close, it’s easy to hope that “The Killing” has regained its footing and is gearing up for a satisfactory close. But let’s not go nuts yet. One highlight in an otherwise underwhelming season does not a renaissance make. But with a little luck the showrunners have finally realized where their missteps were taking them, and are at last free to conclude the Rosie Larsen murder in a satisfactory fashion. Let’s wait until next week before we invest in celebratory fireworks.
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC