Episode Title: "Bulldog"
Writer: Jeremy Doner
Director: Ed Bianchi
Previously on “The Killing:”
Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is out of the hospital and focused entirely on getting into the Wapi Eagle Casino. Again. They decide to pursue a federal warrant, but they’re going to need help. Cut to inside the Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) campaign headquarters, where the candidate has pulled within two points of his competitor, Mayor Lesley Adams (Tom Butler), who has just learned that someone from his office was leaking info to one of Richmond’s campaign managers, Jamie Wright (Eric Ladin).
Jamie and Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman) need a last minute boost to raise Richmond’s chances, and it comes in the form of Linden and Holder, who ask for their assistance in obtaining a Federal Warrant to take down Mayor Lesley Adams, whom they suspect is involved in Rosie Larsen’s murder.
Gwen takes the initiative and asks her father Senator Eaton (Alan Dale) to pull some strings and make the warrant happen, but he doesn’t want to jeopardize his relationship with the Indian reservation. So she blackmails him, threatening to expose his complicity with Mayor Adams’ sexual assault when she was fourteen. Mayor Adams visits Richmond and threatens to expose his suicide attempt if he drops out of the race, which Richmond decides to do before telling Jamie and Gwen what he was really doing the night Rosie was murdered.
Meanwhile, Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) finally gets an offer on his house, which could solve many of his financial problems. Terry Marek (Jamie Ann Allman) stumbles upon the crime scene photographs that crime boss Janek Kovarksy (Don Thompson) gave Stan earlier in the season. It turns out they haven’t come cheap: Janek arrives at Stan’s business and forces him to kill his employee, who in the previous episode gave vital information to Detective Holder regarding the attempt to sabotage the waterfront project. Stan refuses, but is forced to consider the prospect when Janek oh-so-subtly threatens to kill his family.
Linden and Holder arrive at the casino with a federal warrant and proceed to break into the floorboards of the room where Linden had previously found the City Hall keycard with Rosie Larsen’s blood on it. It’s not there, and as they leave Holder wonders what they’re going to do next.
Linden produces the keycard, telling Holder that she didn’t trust the precinct to hold onto the evidence (even though breaking the chain of custody could jeopardize the case), and that she’d just be warning the suspect they were coming. Nicole Jackson (Claudia Ferri) and Roberta Drays (Patti Kim) watch the security footage of Linden and Holder leaving, and see Linden holding up the keycard to the camera and smiling. They make a call.
Stan weighs his options but ultimately goes to his victim’s house and waits outside until he gets in his car. Stan walks up to him wielding a gun, but stops himself when he sees a baby in the backseat. Stan roughs the guy up a bit and tells him to get out of Seattle before Janek has him killed. Cut to Janek getting in his own car, and a gun being pointed to his head. Janek assumes it’s Stan, but it turns out to be Alexi Giffords (Tyler Johnston), who kills Janek, finally getting revenge for his father.
Linden and Holder drive to city hall, unaware that Mayor Adams has ordered Lt. Erik Carlson (Mark Moses) to have them followed and arrested. They manage to lose their tail, but Carlson confronts them outside of city hall. Linden tells Carlson that the investigation is implicating Mayor Adams, and that the new political regime won’t take kindly to his underlings.
They go inside while Darren Richmond tells his supporters about his suicide attempt, rather than dropping out of the race. As Stan returns home to find his wife Mitch (Michelle Forbes) waiting for him, Linden tries the keycard at the Mayor’s office… and it doesn’t work. She walks down the hall and uses the card to open Richmond’s campaign headquarters as the camera zooms in on our final two suspects: Gwen Eaton and Jamie Wright.
Detective Linden likes to tell her less-than-cooperative persons of interest that the case is all about young Rosie Larsen’s murder, not their own problems, but that isn’t strictly true, is it?
“The Killing” began – and initially thrived – by using the murder investigation to explore the secrets of a teenaged girl who had plenty of them, but as season two rolled on we discovered that Rosie Larsen has almost nothing to do with her own murder. She saw something she shouldn’t have, and now she’s dead.
If Linden and Holder hadn’t investigated her secrets and discovered that she worked at the Wapi Eagle casino, they wouldn’t have found that much out, but as the series wraps up it’s just turned into just another familiar political conspiracy with little or nothing to do with the reason why “The Killing” engaged us in the first place. The only thing keeping Rosie alive in the audience’s minds for several episodes now has repeated cutaways to the Larsen family still dealing with the fallout from her death, but that fails to capture the “Who is Rosie Larsen?” spirit of the series.
As such, even though “Bulldog” is by all accounts a strong episode of the series, the direction “The Killing” has taken in season two prevents it from making as strong an impression as it should have. The episode also has some weird holes in it. No doubt Linden enjoyed rubbing the evidence in Paula Jackson’s face, and initially it was a fist-pumping moment of victory for the audience as well, but coming as it does merely seconds after Linden justifies her questionable decision by saying she didn’t want to alert the murderer in advance, we find out that she already did, and was cocky about it.
A smaller goof, though no less distracting, was Janek Kovarsky’s death. He’s in the front seat of his car and assumes the person in the back seat is Stan Larsen. But the front seat of the car has a god damned mirror pointing backwards, meaning he should have recognized Alexi right away. All they had to do was not set the scene in a car and the problem would have been solved. What an odd, silly choice.
But enough of that, let’s focus on the final two suspects: Gwen and Jamie. I still maintain that Richmond could also be a suspect, since the timeline for the murder might still allow his tangential involvement, at least, but “The Killing” seems to think his alibi is airtight, so let’s run with it. Gwen and Jamie both have motivation to sink Mayor Adams’ campaign by ruining his waterfront project, but beyond that Gwen’s behavior doesn’t seem to support her involvement.
You could argue that her devastation at betraying Richmond in season one could be due to the fact that she loved him, she had just discovered that he cheated on her, and she was wracked with guilt for falsely implicating him to save herself. But if she was really at the Wapi Eagle casino, and if she really lost her key card there, would she have gone to the trouble of blackmailing her father just to help detectives find evidence that could destroy her life, career and the campaign? I rather doubt it.
Which leads us back to Jamie, who was originally introduced as a man who would do anything to win. The man who stood by Richmond’s side while he was in the hospital out of loyalty, or perhaps dogged frustration that the candidate he committed murder for was paralyzed because of his own actions, which were almost for naught. The man who did nothing to help Linden and Holden get their federal warrant. The one character who, until now, never seemed like much of a suspect. The man who, if this episode is any indication, is clearly the killer, unless “The Killing” pulls one last-minute switcheroo and decides that Gwen is either the dumbest murderer possible, or that Richmond was really the culprit. And correct me if I’m wrong (I deleted the episode), but in Episode 2.08 “Off the Reservation,” didn’t Jamie push pretty hard for Richmond to get into bed with the Indian reservation?
For a political conspiracy series, “Bulldog” is a pretty great episode of television, a few poorly conceived dramatic beats aside. But it’s moved about as far away from its roots as possible by making Rosie Larsen feel unimportant in her own murder investigation. That’s a bit of a tragedy, but at least things are picking up and, if you’re as frustrated as I am, the season is nearly over.
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC