Who killed Rosie Larsen? Place your bets now (TV commentary)

Last week’s penultimate episode of “The Killing’s” (8 p.m. Central Sunday on AMC) second season and the “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” arc placed a lot of emphasis on two members of the Richmond campaign as suspects: Gwen and Jamie. But I think that’s a distraction technique by the writers.

There are two types of mystery shows: The type where we are allowed to follow the clues to our own conclusion (old-school shows like “Columbo,” “Perry Mason” and “Murder, She Wrote” were often of this type, as were some episodes of “Monk”), and the type where the clues and what they mean are revealed simultaneously, so we aren’t allowed to get ahead of the characters (the “Law & Order” franchise, “Medium” and most modern cop and law shows fit this category).

Despite being a serial, “The Killing” is also generally in the latter category, which is why I think the key clues that lead to the real killer have not been revealed yet; they will be revealed in Sunday’s finale, at which point we’ll enjoy an “a-ha” moment and then Linden and Holder will get their man or woman (or both).

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t guess who killed Rosie Larsen. It just means our guesses will be based more on the narrative flow to this point rather than specific clues. “The Killing” has done a decent job of having Linden and Holder go down many wrong paths (the teacher in Season 1, Richmond at the end of Season 1, and — I assume — Gwen and Jamie in last week’s episode) while still allowing us to understand why they took those paths and still respect their cop work. Sure, in a real-world context, the three weeks they’ve investigated the Larsen murder would look like the height of bungling incompetence (both in the bureaucracy of the police department and the cop work of our heroes), but I’m willing to give “The Killing” a little “24”-style leeway in terms of the absurdly compressed timeframe.

“The Killing” holds together due to the connective tissue between all the characters. Gwen, for example, is connected to her dad, who is connected to Mayor Adams, who is connected to the Indian casino, which is a key location on the night of the Larsen murder. Jamie was at the casino that night as well. And speaking of Jamie, his grandpa (whom Richmond, inspired by Jamie’s story, has been using as an example of blue-collar work ethic in his campaign speeches without having met the guy) was introduced in last week’s final scene as not being everything Jamie made him out to be. I think that as we get to know Jamie’s grandpa in Sunday’s episode, we’ll find out he has connections to other characters on the show.

Anyone on this continuum of character connections could be the one who murdered Rosie Larsen.

But I would submit that — due the nature of a compelling TV narrative — none of the people who have been suspected of the murder so far, or any of the people overtly portrayed as bad guys, are the actual murderer. That’s why I’m crossing off Richmond, Gwen and Jamie from my list of candidates, plus the incredibly slimy operator of the casino, plus the absurdly slick mayor. I also would’ve eliminated as a likely suspect Stan’s mob boss, although he was offed earlier this season, making him very unlikely to be the murderer based on the TV tradition where we get to see the detectives collar the bad guy.

I think the murderer will turn out to be someone we know well, but who has some unknown elements. So it probably won’t be any of the main characters — Linden, Holder and Rosie’s parents (although, among these, Mitch is the most suspicious due to her sabbatical immediately after learning of her daughter’s death). However, I think it could be a recurring character.

Consider Terry, Mitch’s sister. We know she was involved with the prostitution ring that Rosie also got caught up in — although, tellingly, that line of inquiry was set aside by both the detectives and a briefly angry Stan — and it’s also been hinted that there’s a bit of a spark between Stan and Terry. Terry has ostensibly been helping the Larsens because she’s family and it’s the right thing to do, but suppose she harbors jealousy of Mitch’s family life?

It’s also worth considering the son of the man who Stan killed in his mob days (even though the kid was investigated and cleared earlier this season). He’s such a cipher of a character that I don’t even know his name. But he did kill Stan’s mob boss, and although he might’ve benefitted personally from that, he also helped out Stan big time, and that suggests a potential twisted emotional connection with the Larsens. Perhaps he was jealous that Rosie had a father, so even though he should despise Stan, he also wishes Stan was his father.

I also am intrigued by the (admittedly out-there) notion of Linden’s fiancé, Rick, being the killer. At the end of Season 1, when many people believed the killer would be revealed (because AMC was not at all clear on whether it was a one-season show or an ongoing show), a friend of mine suggested that it would be cool if it was revealed that Rick’s pressure on Linden to drop the investigation and move to Sonoma wasn’t entirely based on his desire to start fresh with his wife and stepson. Perhaps he wanted her off the case because he was the killer. Rick has been entirely dropped from the narrative now, but keep in mind that each episode represents one day, so it’s only been a couple weeks since he was heavily involved in the story.

I also think that, even though Jamie and Gwen probably aren’t the killers, the detectives’ thoughts about there being one male and one female killer (the male being the one who aggressively beat up Rosie and the female being the one who passively drowned her in the lake) might still hold water. It’s just that the man and woman in question aren’t Jamie and Gwen, but another duo altogether. That gets me thinking about possible combinations: Terry and the mob-hit kid, perhaps? Regi and the detectives’ former lieutenant? Rosie’s former boyfriend and best friend?

Those are just a few random thoughts. I hope that the reveal of Rosie Larsen’s killer will be a “Wow! Didn’t see that coming, but it makes perfect sense in retrospect” moment. But even if it’s a letdown, I gotta give “The Killing” credit for spinning a fine web of intrigue so far. We’ll get our answer on Sunday, but in the meantime, share your guess in the comment thread on who killed Rosie Larsen.

John Hansen's GravatarHere’s AMC’s suspect tracker for those who want to dig deeper into the suspects and viewers’ theories: http://suspecttracker.amctv.com/breakdown.php
# Posted By John Hansen | 6/15/12 9:53 PM

Seth Stringer's GravatarI think Terry’s got the most motive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ames was involved. But …

Upon reviewing all the evidence and the behind-closed-doors conversations, I gotta believe Gwen had a role in the murder. From turning Richmond in to police to meeting with the mayor in secret to losing her key card, she’s my prime suspect. But I love your “Scream,” two-murderers twist. So I think we’ll find out her senator dad helped out. If not him, I’ll go with the mayor as an accomplice.

Going more out on a limb, it’d be awesome if one of the following were the killers: Bennet Ahmad, I know he’s no longer a suspect, and his wife, Mitch and Stan, or Rick.

# Posted By Seth Stringer | 6/17/12 10:31 AM
John Hansen's GravatarAfter reading lots of good theories on The Killing Suspect Tracker on the AMC site, I’m going to guess Rick will be the fourth person in the elevator, and he’ll be the male killer. Then the female killer will come from that other group of conspirators; I’m going to guess Terry. So at some point, they’d have to explain a Rick-Terry connection, which hasn’t been done so far. Maybe Jamie’s grandpa will explain that at the start of the episode. I figure by guessing two way-out-there suspects, I can get half credit if one of them is correct. I definitely think there are two killers, and many more people who didn’t commit the crime but were involved with the circumstances surrounding it. I mean, even at this point, there’s no disputing that Gwen, Jamie, the Indian casino bigwigs, Terry and Michael Ames were at least peripherally involved.
# Posted By John Hansen | 6/17/12 11:37 AM
Seth Stringer's GravatarYou’re right in that there’s blood on so many hands, but tis the world of shady politics (as if shady even needs to be mentioned as it goes with the territory). If Rick’s the killer, I deserve a Lakin-Kehde-no-look-pass assist. Of course, you’d get the Jared Dey putaway for putting the finishing touch on it. And man would Terry be a great second killer.
# Posted By Seth Stringer | 6/17/12 1:10 PM
John Hansen's GravatarYeah, you mentioned Rick late last season and I thought that would’ve been a great twist that would never actually happen. But then after reading some of the Suspect Tracker theories, I’m practically convinced that he must be the killer. Some fans do such good research into the details of each episode that they almost qualify as spoilers. But of course only the Killing’s writers know who actually did it, and we’ll find out tonight. I think it’ll be good stuff.
# Posted By John Hansen | 6/17/12 1:17 PM
Seth Stringer's GravatarBothering me is why Rick would let Linden out of the psych ward if he was the killer. He knows the case is dead without her.
# Posted By Seth Stringer | 6/17/12 1:56 PM
John Hansen's GravatarI’m guessing because Holder needed him to get her out or something? And he reluctantly agreed so as not to give himself away? But yeah, there’s some holes in that.
# Posted By John Hansen | 6/17/12 7:37 PM