HBO’s new fantasy saga Games of Thrones has been praised for being a grim and gritty politically charged allegory about power-mongering scoundrels living in a verdant if climatically dreary land. It’s a good show – but I prefer to spend my Sunday evenings watching AMC’s The Killing, which tackles similar themes, but in a more real-world if similarly weather-challenged setting… a setting that just happens to be my hometown of Seattle, where wintry (rain) is always coming. I am also a sucker for murky murder mysteries about pale, haggard-looking people with guns and umbrellas – at least, more so than frisky, frothy fantasies about pale, haggard-looking people with broadswords and fur coats. But that’s just me. Beginning this week, I’ll be making like Gil Grissom and sifting through the clues of The Killing in hopes of solving the TV season’s most riveting mystery: Who killed Rosie Larsen? (Yes, I’m playing fair: I have only seen the episodes you’ve seen.)
THE KILLING CASE FILE
EPISODE FOUR: “A SOUNDLESS ECHO”
OLD LEADS: Was the “El Diablo” video a mucho red herring?
While interrogating skater junkies Jasper and Kris, Seattle detectives Linden and Holder learned that the girl in the boys’ Halloween rape-porn wasn’t Rosie, but a drunk Sterling rocking Rosie’s witch wig and posing as Rosie. Seems the two girls had a falling out, and Sterling made the video to embarrass her now-distant friend. “She changed so much” after breaking up with Jasper, Sterling said of Rosie. “She wouldn’t hang out. She’d disappear during fourth period. Tell her mom she was spending the night when she wasn’t.” Sterling also admitted that she grooved on the boys’ attention, however perverse – attention that Rosie usually got. I was unclear on this point. I’m going to say that the “sex” in the video was staged. The blood? Sterling’s nose. Prone to gushers, the girl had an attack during the lurid prank.
NEW LEADS: Sterling had some genuinely useful info for the detectives. She noticed that Rosie began going… well, somewhere after school via a city bus. Holder hopped aboard the 108 and learned from one of the drivers that Rosie used to ride it to the end of the line, to a rough-and-tough inner city section of Seattle. Trusting his street gut, Holder checked out a community center – a pro-Darren Richmond enclave, judging from the campaign signs on the wall. He learned that the people who worked there knew Rosie – and one of Rosie’s Fort Washington teachers, the devoted Bennet Ahmed, who coached an after-school basketball team.
THIS WEEK’S COOL NEW CLUE: Just how close were Rosie and Bennet? While searching Rosie’s room anew, Linden found letters from the teacher hidden inside an illuminated globe. One of them began: “Dear Rosie: You’re an old soul trapped in a young body. Go beyond the limits of what you know even if you’re afraid. Try everything. Feel everything, if only once.” The letter included a quote about “the silence of a sleeping city” that read, in part: “There are all kinds of silences … Whatever the mood or the circumstances the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.” The passage comes from British aviator Beryl Markham’s 1942 memoir West With The Night.
FROM THE “EVERYONE HAS A SECRET” FILES
LINDEN: We’ve been encouraged to believe that our gum-smacking gumshoe heroine tends to get somewhat obsessed when it comes to cases involving murdered girls. We got confirmation of this via a loaded comment from fiancé Rick – but we didn’t get much more in the way of elaboration. But what did you make of that kid’s drawing in Linden’s box of packed-up work stuff, showing a coffin in a forest?
HOLDER: He’s got “the itch,” too. This can’t be good.
STANLEY LARSEN: Rosie’s father secretly bought a house before Rosie’s death for his family. Also, Stan seems to hail from a mob family and may have done some dirty work for them in his younger days. Ditto his buddy and employee Belko. When he suggested whacking Darren Richmond, Stan made it clear: He didn’t do that anymore.
GWEN EATON: Needing an infusion of cash to fund a media blitz for Darren’s floundering campaign, the candidate’s chief political advisor and lover quietly sought help from her father, a senator (Alan Dale, a.k.a. Charles Widmore from Lost). Her goal: Scoring a meeting with an insufferable, sports-loving fat cat with a grudge against the mayor. The senator agreed – though he revealed that he was aware of his daughter’s hush-hush romance with Richmond and did not approve.
DARREN RICHMOND: The desperate mayoral candidate accused true believing campaign manager Jamie of being the leaky mole in his campaign and fired him. But in a twist, we learned that Jamie’s termination was a ruse – a set-up designed to get Jamie working for Mayor Adams and subverting his campaign. Darren told Jamie that he didn’t suspect his savvy if tactless operative of being the one who tipped the media to union organizer-turned-politico Ruth Yitanes’ endorsement: “If you wanted to screw me, you would have found a smarter way to do it.”
I’m thinking Gwen was the one who leaked the endorsement – but for good reasons, at least in her mind. The fact that we got a scene where we saw her go behind Richmond’s back to broker a donor meeting told us that she’s not above playing risky games and pursuing reckless tactics to get her man elected, and my guess is that leaking the endorsement to the local paper was one of those maneuvers. Her goal: To earn a favor from the reporter to whom she whispered the scoop. I’m guessing she’ll use that credit in the next episode or two.
HAVE YOU NOTICED… The recurring basketball motif? Darren loves playing roundball – and played it during a photo-op for his education program. The deep pocketed sports nut now funding Darren’s ad blitz had a hoop in his apartment and jokingly challenged Richmond and Adams to settle the race with a game of one-on-one. Bennet Ahmed coaches that rec league b-ball team. All of this is rather ironic, given that not long ago, Seattle’s longtime NBA franchise, the SuperSonics, relocated to – of all places – Oklahoma freakin’ City. (If Richmond really wants to get elected, maybe he should make landing a new SuperSonics franchise for the Emerald City a top priority.) What does all this mean? Following the bouncing ball…
THIS WEEK’S ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE THEORY!
Right now, my money is on Jamie as Rosie’s murderer. Remember what Richmond said: “If you wanted to screw me, you would have found a smarter way to do it.” Translation: Jamie is a brilliant tactician, and I think he used those Machiavellian smarts to help his candidate secure the election. Here’s how I imagine that it all adds up:
+The mayor’s waterfront mall project has some secret, criminal connection to the mob – specifically, Stan’s mobster relatives.
+Stan tried to keep his mob past a secret from his family, or at least his kids. But I’m thinking that…
+Somehow, someway, Rosie learned about her father’s mob roots, and more, discovered the family’s current connection to the waterfront mall project. She told Bennet about it, because she probably told Bennet everything. Perhaps they were lovers. Ick. But it’s possible.
+Bennet did something foolish: He tried leverage Rosie’s family secret by sharing the info with Jamie during a Richmond campaign event at the community center. Bennet’s pitch to Jamie: Ruin the Mayor Adam’s re-election chances by using the info to expose his mob ties. Bennet hoped that in exchange, Richmond would keep the community center funded when he became mayor – and/or perhaps give him a post in his administration.
+But bleeding heart Bennet isn’t so slimeball-ish at heart. Soon after making this proposal, I’m thinking Bennet’s guilty conscience got the best of him and he expressed his regret to Jamie.
+However, Jamie – as ruthless as he is idealistic – had no intention of not exploiting the information that Bennet had given him. So Jamie killed Rosie. (I know, I know: HUH? My theory needs more work. How did he know Rosie? Why so homicidal? But this feels right to me. So roll with me, at least for a week.)
Now, Jamie intends to do two things:
1. Frame one of Stan’s mob-linked truck drivers for Rosie’s murder
2. Use his new position with the mayor to plant evidence establishing a link between the mayor’s campaign and Rosie’s murder
What Jamie wants Seattle to think is:
1. That Rosie was a brave girl who intended to expose her mob family’s link to Mayor Adams
2. That the Adams campaign conspired with the mob to neutralize her
3. That the mayor-mob conspiracy tried to smear Richmond by linking the campaign to the death via the car
ESTIMATED CHANCE THAT MY THEORY IS CORRECT: 100 percent… this week. Obviously, my theory is contingent on a lot of missing pieces of clue stuff and testimony not yet in evidence. We must have many more twists and turns to go before we get to The Right Answer. I look forward to the journey. But what do you think, my fellow detectives? Who do you think killed Rosie Larsen? Post your theories below – or share them with me at @EWDocJensen