'The Killing' Clue Tracker: Do the 'Bits and Pieces' point to a serial killer?

The-Killing

Image Credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Sunday’s episode of The Killing introduced a mystery that has left me as obsessed as the matter of Rosie Larsen’s murder: Just how many Del Tacos are there in Seattle? Linden’s fiancé Rick poked at the detective’s increasingly bad eating habits as she gave more of her time and mind to the investigation. “Drive-thru at the Del Taco doesn’t count,” he said. Linden smiled at his concern. “Busted!” she said. Now, I grew up in Seattle, and I don’t recall a whole lot of Del Taco franchises. According to its website, the fast food chain – popular throughout California – only has five locations in Washington, and the closest one to Seattle is in Federal Way, which is about 20 miles south of the Emerald City. While most journalists would surmise that the show made a mistake (“Busted!”), my superior mind and golden gut – honed by years of successful investigative work (yes, a Lost reference) — tell me that that the writers wanted us to buy into the reality that Linden loooooves that Macho Burrito so much that she’s willing to drive wayyyy out of her way to get it. It speaks to her dedication… or possibly obsessive or compulsive or even addictive tendencies. Yes! That was some seriously top-notch analysis I just gave you right there! Bodes well for the rest of the column, doesn’t it?

THE KILLING CASE FILE

EPISODE FIVE: “SUPER 8″ (NO CONNECTION TO THE J.J. ABRAMS MOVIE INTENDED. I THINK.)

OLD LEADS: Last week Linden and Holder zeroed in on Bennet Ahmed, Rosie’s English teacher, as their chief suspect. They grilled him this week, and Bennet insisted his relationship with Rosie was above-board. The tonally inappropriate, lit-quoting letters? “Rosie didn’t like to raise her hand in class, so she left me notes, and I wrote her back,” Bennet said. “It was an intellectual discourse. That’s it.” The fact that she was spotted at the inner city community center where Bennet coached a Seattle All Stars after-school basketball team? “A lot of students volunteer there. Rosie checked it out once or twice. I don’t remember.” Yet Bennet could not supply a corroborating witness for his whereabouts on the night of Rosie’s murder. He said he was home by 10 p.m., but he also said he had sent his wife away for the weekend. The Bennets were having their floors refinished, and Bennet didn’t want his wife inhaling the fumes… but he claimed that the workers canceled on him, so he had to do the job himself.

NEW LEADS: The more the detectives dug into Bennet, the better he looked for the crime. His wife, Amber? She was pregnant, so it made sense that Bennet would want to protect her and the child from those “fumes.” But like Rosie, Amber was a former student, and Bennet used to write her florid, inspiring letters, too. The laborers that Bennet had hired to re-do the floors? They never came over during the weekend when Amber was away. Bennet actually canceled on them, not vise versa. Did Bennet have access to a car belonging to the Darren Richmond campaign? Yep. Richmond is a sponsor of the Seattle All Stars program, and in the episode’s final moments, we saw Bennet – a spokesman for the Seattle All Stars — participating in a Richmond TV commercial.

EVIDENCE FOR SERIAL KILLER THEORY? Let’s go back to those refinished floors. Linden also spied chemicals – including polyurethane and ammonium hydroxide — in one of the rooms under renovation in Bennet’s house. According to the medical examiner, Rosie’s hands were saturated with ammonium hydroxide.

Medical Examiner: “It was on her hands under nails, even in her lungs.
Linden:
“What’s it used for?”
Medical Examiner:
“Cleaning, flooring, making bombs. Pretty powerful stuff.”
Linden:
“Why would someone use it on a body?”
Medical Examiner:
“It does the job. Might explain why we didn’t find anything under her nails and inconclusive for sexual assault.”
Linden:
“Sounds like he’s a pro. Like he knows what he’s doing.”
Medical Examiner:
“Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done it before.”

Are we to think that Rosie’s murderer might be some kind of serial killer? Or maybe… a mob hit man?

HOT NEW CLUE: While insisting he had no motive for killing such a beautiful soul like Rosie, Bennet produced proof of just how beautifully soulful Rosie was: The girl had made a super 8 film for a class project – a series of images from Rosie’s everyday life that expressed a poetic way of looking at the world. Monarch butterflies. Graffiti. The Space Needle. A seaplane. A pink bicycle. We also got a glimpse of someone else in Rosie’s life – an unidentified girl. Perhaps the most intriguing image was the one that was most abstracted. It appeared to be a company logo reflected in rippling water, thus distorted. Linden had several frames of the film printed and blown up. Do you think one of these images holds an important clue to the case?

BURNING QUESTION! BENNET AHMED: Killer or Red Herring? I say: Red Herring. But a lot of people disagree with me. According to AMC’s “Suspect Tracker” (a really cool resource), 20 percent of participating fans think the teacher murdered Rosie Larsen.

RANDOM OBSERVATION! With its Pacific Northwest locale and moody score, The Killing evokes Twin Peaks, minus the Lynchian affectations and mystical mythology. (But Linden’s Del Taco fixation does remind me of Dale Cooper’s coffee-and-pie passions.)  In fact, it seems to me that with Rosie Larsen, the writers of the show are riffing rather knowingly on Laura Palmer. The iconic murder victim of Twin Peaks was also a bright, promising student full of secrets. But the investigation into those secrets revealed that Laura Palmer was full of darkness. Rosie Larsen’s secrets reveal so much light. If Bennet is to be believed, Rosie was an idealistic and gifted young woman, “curious” and “hungry” and “different” from all the other kids who can “barely stay awake in class”; per his characterization, I got the sense that perhaps Rosie felt embarrassed and self-conscious about the qualities that made her unique in the eyes of her teacher. She wanted to fit in…  yet she wanted escape, to move to a place where she could reinvent herself, or more specifically, to live out the person she really was. (Remember that tidbit that was mentioned in the pilot but hasn’t been revisited: Rosie had been researching colleges – out-of-state colleges – but she was reluctant to tell many people, including her father. Why?) Laura Palmer was used to indict the phony, corrupt culture of her time and place by making her phony and corrupt, by rendering her victim and participant. Rosie indicts the phony, corrupt culture of our time by being revealed as an antidote for it. Laura was icon for an ironic, cynical culture. Rosie is an icon for a time that’s tired of irony and cynicism.

Or not. Just stuff I’m thinking about.

FROM THE “EVERYONE HAS A SECRET” FILES

HOLDER: Received an envelope full of cash from a guy in a car. Then Holder put the envelope in a mailbox in front of a house. The curtains were open, and Holder saw an adult (a woman, I think) and a few kids. He took a long, longing look, then walked away. Holder’s wife and children? Many fans think Holder killed Rosie and that he’s working the case to both cover his tracks and make a name for himself. Not buying it.

GWEN: Did I get that right? Did we learn that she was sleeping with the hotshot director she originally hired to shoot the Richmond commercial?

JAMIE AND MAYOR ADAMS: Jamie figured out the mole in the Richmond campaign wasn’t working for Mayor Adams but councilwoman Ruth Yitanes, who has a habit of subverting and manipulating other Seattle politicians. Jamie also went drinking with the Mayor  – a nauseating outing in more ways than one. The Mayor revealed himself to be a toxic racist with glib disdain for Richmond’s “rainbow coalition” of “black, fruits, whores and drug addicts.” (Hard to believe the people of Seattle actually elected this guy.) He also declared himself politically bulletproof; his waterfront project had helped him amass a wealth of capital from the city’s rich power players. Jamie wasn’t a drinker, so he got soused pretty quickly, and during his inebriation, he belched out this line: “Richmond is an idealist. Ethics this, fair play that. It’s all bull—-. You win, you win; you lose, you go home. Let me tell you something, Mayor. Politics is war. If you step in the ring, you better like the taste of blood. And if you don’t, you better step aside for somebody who does.” Jamie – playing mole for Richmond — may have been just saying what he said to get cozy with Adams. But it also betrayed Jamie’s ruthlessness – an idealism gone jaundiced and jaded. I think Jamie believed every word he said – but the untenable tension within him is that he doesn’t want to. Little moments like that just further convince me that Jamie is Rosie’s killer, especially given how they seem to be connected via the thematic blah blah blah of my “idealism” riffing. I was also struck by this conspicuous line, uttered by the Mayor’s non-drinking aide, commenting on Jamie’s booze-sickened pallor: “You feeling all right? Frankly, you look like a dead person.” That was loaded.

However…

BELKO ROYCE: Belko – Stan’s buddy and employee, who last week suggested that they re-embrace their old mob goon ways and whack Rosie’s murderer once they find him/her — discovered that the Larsens’ oldest son Denny was trying to hide the fact that he was peeing the bed. We saw Belko change the sheets for Denny and even hook the boy up with new pajamas, as if filling in for Denny’s absentee parents… or helping the kid with a cover-up. “I used to wet the bed until I was 17,” Belko said. It was very touching. But bed-wetting throughout adolescence happens to be a behavior found in… serial killers. (Trust me on this.)

A GRIEF, OBSERVED

What sets the show apart – what makes The Killing more than just a (really good) murder mystery – is the attention it pays to the Larsen family as they grapple with Rosie’s death. The microscopic examination of their grief is intense, sometimes hard to watch. “Super 8″ was all about the little moments – the bits and pieces of everyday life — that can evoke huge emotions that can overwhelm you if you let them. Everywhere Mitch Larsen turned, she saw a reminder of her daughter, and those reminders stopped her in her tracks and dragged her into despair. “It gets better,” Richmond told her during an encounter at a supermarket, his “wisdom” a lesson learned from the experience of losing his wife. Mitch turned away, without asking the two questions I wanted her to ask: When? And why not now? Stan tried to hold strong, but seeing Rosie in her dress at the funeral home broke him. He sought out Belko and told him he had changed his mind about pursuing a street justice solution to Rosie’s murder. (Bennet Ahmed, your days are numbered.) I loved the scene where young Tom stole money from his sleeping parents and walked to the store in his pajamas to buy milk for breakfast – a bowl of Rosie’s fave cereal, Bits and Pieces. Denny chastised him; eating Rosie’s food was off-limits. He was going to rat out Tom to Mom and Dad. “Go ahead,” Tom said. “They don’t care about us.” Chilling. A killer moment.

Hmmm…

Bits and pieces of Rosie’s murder  + “Bits and Pieces” (Rosie’s fave cereal) = Serial killer?

Belko’s looking good right now, isn’t he?

@EWDocJensen


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  • david

    BELKO ROYCE is my main suspect. His name also fits with the clue in “rosie’s room” that mentions someone named “b”. The main thing that strikes me about him is that he seems to be a “pro” based on hints of mob background and his general creepiness around the Larson’s. Seems like he would be happy to be the man of that family, ala The Stepfather (yeah, John Locke reference there).

    • Lucy

      Except that his character was the killer in the danish version and the shows writers have said they’ve changed the killer for the american version.

      • Redeyecat

        Thanks for the spoiler Lucy! (yes that is sarcasm)

      • Bette

        LUCY ! Thanks for nothing.
        … Saves me watching the original version.

      • Diogo

        What a SPOILER, Lucy!!! You just told us who WON’T be the killer! Please, shut up, retarded!

  • Kate

    I think you have the brothers confused, I think the younger one is Denny and the older one is Tommy.

  • Anya

    1. This is really well-written. SOMEbody was an English major:)
    2. I hadn’t considered Belko, but he’s on my radar now. I thought his comment about wetting the bed until he was 17 was just made up to make the kid feel better.

  • woman in black

    Great article. Can we expect another weekly Doc Jensen segment? Please??

    I for one think that it’s Linden’s husband-to-be, Rick Felder (Callum Keith). That’s just because he’s so awesome! He was such a slimeball in Battlestar Galactica and Californication, I think it just fits he’s gotta play a big role in this series as well. Just make’s sense. He’s being looked over by everyone, even though he’s actually a bigger name than most people give him credit for.

    • Lucy

      I concur, great article. Linden’s fiance is a great guess. there are so many options but if it turns out to be Bennet, I will be very disappointed as it is so obvious!

    • Toni

      I agree – I think he is being so aggressive to get Linden to quit her job and I think it is because he knows she would be the only one who could realize he is the murderer. I believe he is a serial killer as well and that will come out in future shows.

    • Tom

      Really? The Harper’s Island killer? They wouldn’t, would they?

  • Babs

    This is my first comment on EW.com ever, even after being a devoted Doc Jensen LOST reader, but this show has got me hooked! My gut right now is telling me to look into the expensive heels found with the body. Whose heels were they? I don’t think they are Rosie’s, they look too big. I think maybe Jeff’s Jamie Theory is on the right track, but instead of Jamie trying to get Richmond ahead I say maybe Gwen has a role. Just a thought…love this feature!

  • papoon

    Umm, why is no one talking about the severed head (from a mannequin?) that shows up in Rosie’s film? The clip shows up about 3 beats after Linden says, “Maybe she saw something she shouldn’t have seen.”

  • Breckster82

    from what i understood it seemed like the young, hip director was an old flame of gwen’s.

    i don’t think it’s bennett, if only for the reason that it seems too convenient and early in the season. the show is making it easy for us to get to that conclusion.

    belko rubs me the wrong way.

  • Hillary

    my husband and I, both having lived out west and enjoyed midnight Del Taco runs, also debated the existence of Del Taco in Seattle. Perhaps Linden lived outside of Seattle proper, after all it is expensive and a lot of cops don’t actually live in the cities they work . . .

  • Pam

    I am sooo glad Doc Jensen are recapping this show. I honestly was not a big fan of his Lost recaps because they were so detailed but here I want that level of detail.

  • paulthezag

    As a Seattlite, I can vouch that there are at least 3 or 4 Del Tacos in the city limits.

  • Megh

    I also think it’s too early for Bennett to be the killer. I think we’re going to be led down a lot of wrong roads before we find the right one.

  • Mike

    Haha, only you Doc, would try to make her frequent trips to Del Taco more than just a fast food diet. Love it!

  • Sean

    I noticed the Del Tacos thing too, and I was thinking maybe they just got the name wrong… there’s a local chain called Taco Del Mar with locations around the city. Either that or lazy/time-pressed writers who just assumed that Del Tacos were around in Seattle.

    • Txmama

      They should have used taco time and then it would have been authentic!

  • Kevin

    The killer is gonna be Callum Keith Rennie’s character. He’s too good of an actor to only be getting one minute of screen time each week. Near the end, it’ll be revealed that it’s him. Said that on day 1.

    • Toni

      Plus, if this show gets renewed another season and Linden stays as main character, they will need to change their relationship. Either they break-up so she won’t move to Sonoma; (2) Rick moves back to Seattle because he realizes she can’t give up her job: or (3) He will eb the killer and she will eitehr arrest him or kill him.

  • Brian

    If you want to talk Twin Peaks similarities, you have to mention the scene in the pilot where Mitch finds out about Rosie because she’s on the phone with Stan when he sees them pull the car out of the pond. A pretty much note-for-note remake of the scene from the Twin Peaks pilot when Sarah discovers something had happened to Laura because she’s on the phone with Leland when the cops come. Both scenes end with a close-up on a photo of the young girl, as well.

    That was the scene in the pilot that charmed me the most. I was expecting a rip-off, and didn’t get one. But that one scene was a nice way to pay homage while being tonally distinct.

    Also, I’ve gotta disagree with your analysis of Laura Palmer as a “willing” participant in a phony/corrupt culture. The point of Twin Peaks was that a young girl in a seemingly idyllic little town was destroyed by the forces of darkness surrounding her. It was years of sexual abuse/torment that led her to become the coke-addicted homecoming queen.

    In short, back up off my Laura or I’m going to have to come back here next week and prove you wrong again.

    • Madd

      I have to agree with you on this one. I thought that the prequel movie (and “Laura’s Diary”) showed Laura’s actions stemmed from the abuse she went through.

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