Episode Title: “Donnie or Marie”
Writer: Wendy Riss and Aaron Zelman
Director: Keith Gordon
Previously On “The Killing:”
Detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) have just narrowed the suspects down to two members of Darren Richmond’s election campaign: Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman) and Jamie Wright (Eric Ladin). But they’re also still on the run, and the cops come rushing into City Hall to arrest them.
Linden narrowly avoids incarceration by brokering a deal with Mayor Lesley Adams (Tom Butler), who may still be a corrupt, backstabbing sleaze, but at least he’s not a murderer. They’ll withhold the evidence that Adams doctored a photo to ruin Richmond’s campaign, he gets the cops off their back. It’s Election Day and Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) is neck-and-neck with Mayor Adams throughout the episode.
Finally off the hook, the detectives look closer at both Gwen and Jamie. They go over the evidence and find discrepancies that implicate both of Darren Richmond’s advisors. Jamie’s grandfather, who lives with him, verifies his alibi, but Gwen’s story has holes. She also needed a replacement keycard right after the murder. When Holder and Linden go to the Wapi Eagle Casino to pick up the surveillance tapes, they discover that Chief Nicole Jackson (Claudia Ferri) and her security head Roberta Drays (Patti Kim) are in a romantic relationship, and that Jackson injured Roberta’s hand in the previous episode. They also discover that Gwen has a connection to the tribe through an old photograph in the lobby.
Soon, they connect Gwen to the stolen Richmond campaign car that Rosie Larsen’s body was found in, and tear more holes in her story. In their attempt to connect Gwen to Michael Ames’ company, they learn that Jamie was actually the one with ties to the Ames family, having pushed through the only company Michael owns himself (as opposed to his wife) for the waterfront project. Although Jamie claims it was just an attempt to lure Ames away from Mayor Adams, Linden and Holder begin to suspect that Jamie and Gwen are both guilty of the Rosie Larsen murder.
Meanwhile, Mitch Larsen (Michelle Forbes) finally returns to her family, experiencing a mix or relief and resentment that she’s finally home. She has a fight with her sister Terry (Jamie Anne Allman) after finding out that her underwear is in the family laundry, and that she knows about the house Stan (Brent Sexton) bought, even though Mitch doesn’t. She also has a fight with Stan over whether or not they should move. Mitch keeps saying that no one knows what she’s going through, unaware that Stan considers Rosie his real daughter and that Terry has been working her ass off to take care of the family Mitch abandoned for most of the season.
As the episode concludes, Linden and Holder confront Roberta with information that her girlfriend hung her predecessor out to dry on a previous murder investigation. Roberta finally relents and, in an effort to save her own ass, gives them the security tapes from the 10th floor elevator. Meanwhile, Darren Richmond receives a mysterious phone call and leaves campaign headquarters to go to a house we’ve never seen before. Linden and Holder finally watch as Jamie Wright gets into the elevator to the crime scene shortly before the Rosie Larsen murder, and Jamie comes home to his grandfather’s house, where Richmond is waiting for him.
So I was right about Wright… Jamie Wright. Once they narrowed the suspects down to two, and then spent the subsequent episode focusing on one more than the other, it seemed pretty obvious that the killer had to be the other one. He had the motive, he had the opportunity, and he matches the description of the out of focus killer we saw in the very first episode of the series. He might have had help, but damn it, the dude was involved. I’ll reserve my comments and criticisms about this particular creative decision until the season finale next week, after (hopefully) all the details are laid bare.
It’s actually comforting to have an entire episode dedicated to the murder investigation, in which the drama stems from learning new information rather than being prevented from learning it. That’s good television. Not great television, since “Donnie or Marie” was preceded by the otherwise unfortunate Season 2 of “The Killing,” but at least Linden and Holder make wise decisions throughout the episode and a lot of ground is covered in the Rosie Larsen murder.
The biggest complaint about “Donnie or Marie” comes in the form of Mitch Larsen’s subplot, since her entire subplot throughout this second season has come to absolutely nothing. She left, she was sad, her family was sad, and now she’s back and they’re pissed. She didn’t come back with information or personal revelations that affect the family, she’s just back, having got whatever made her run away out of her system. Her family has the moral high ground when they chew her out. It’s actually painful to see her accuse Stan and Terry about caring less about Rosie than she does. And not in the good, inevitable drama way. It just calls attention to “The Killing’s” failure to make something out of the odd decision to remove her from the main cast throughout Season 2.
Another odd bit: one of Holder and Linden’s interview subjects accuses Gwen of using her “va-jay-jay” to manipulate her bosses… “just like her father.” It may be the most awkward dialogue of the series to date.
I’ve been saying throughout this season that “The Killing” would have to really step up its game in the last few episodes to make the last 11 episodes seem like they were worth the trouble, and while “Donnie or Marie” is certainly a strong one, it’s not so revelatory or dramatic that it forgives the failings of the season that precedes it.
If every episode of the season was this good, “The Killing” would have been a much better series. But even then, it would need to really end with a glorified bang to justify the buildup. “The Killing” has one more chance to pull it all together. I’ll be back next week to see if it pulls through, and offer one last examination of whether the series worked now that all will be said and done.
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC