“The Killing” Whodunit Mystery Solved: Killing Three Birds With One Stone


This is what I call – “The Killing” Whodunit Mystery Solved: Killing Three Birds With One Stone.”

Mayor Adams made the call to Lt. Oakes to have Holder placed as a Homicide Detective, despite his being a vice cop without any prior experience in working the murder / homicide beat.

Holder appears to be far smarter than he appears, and I never for one second doubted that he set it up so that Linden would find him to be shady, and later on, exonerate himself with that sappy confessional in the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting. Think about – Holder is not a sloppy detective – certainly uncouth and boorish at times, but not sloppy.

And yet, there he is, getting his weekly paycheck handed to him from someone in a car, in front of the police station – in plain view where anyone, most importantly, where Linden, can see him. He sets himself up as being a person of suspicion, and then when Linden follows him to his NA meeting, he makes sure to give a big long, sobbing confessional beseeching the forgiveness of his sister and nephew. Linden didn’t exactly do a stealth job trailing him to the meeting, she was about one car length behind the whole time, and when her phone rang in the middle of Holder’s NA speech, she ran out of there – and Holder had a little “good, she took the bait” smirk on his face. He knew she’d been watching, he set it up. Watch the episode again – see Joel Kinnaman’s little smirk and tell me I’m wrong. His little monologue was all done for her benefit.

Linden is a character quite easily manipulated by guilt, shame, and pitiful pleas (see her unceasing need to solve previous cases at the expense of her own personal relationships, her promise to Rosie’s grieving mother that Bennet would be arrested by the end of the night, and her subsequent feelings of remorse and guilt for Bennet’s beat down at the hands of Stan Larsen), and Holder knew this. So after making her feel thoroughly ashamed for suspecting him of being a dirty cop, and for spying on him during his NA meeting, he meets at her at the docks, makes a point of telling her that “What you see is what you get” (when it’s anything but), and then of course, the slate between them is wiped clean. All is forgiven, and the two of them become quasi-work BFF’s.

That’s when their true “camaraderie” begins. Holder’s been trying too hard throughout this story to ingratiate himself in with Linden and her son, “Little Man,” by palling around with Jack and making himself available to answer his questions (e.g. boiling vs. frying hot dogs.) He’s also been quite chivalrous in his efforts to put up with Linden’s irascible fits of temper, as well as being a shoulder for her to cry on regarding her son and his dead-beat dad, bringing her maple bacon donuts, and letting her bum as many cigs as she needs to smoke during the process. Way too convenient.

The writers have been trying to make it seem as if Holder is a little puppy dog, with a crush on Linden, but remember, Holder is a smart cookie who’s worked undercover for years; he knows how to play the game just right, and talk the talk, and walk the walk, to get what he wants. Remember how easily he manipulated the teenage girls at the high school into telling him where the kids like to party (in the basement), into getting the street girl to fess up to where punk/goth boy, Chris was, and into getting Bennet’s sister-in-law, to discuss her dislike of Bennet and his religion, and of how her sister Amber was late in coming over to her house the night Rosie went missing? Holder’s quite the master manipulator, charmer, and flirt, when he wants to be, especially with those of the female persuasion. His motives for befriending Linden, and getting her to trust him, stem from a far more diabolical motive than a silly schoolboy-ish romance fantasy.

And what about Rosie’s Super 8 movie, filmed for Bennet’s class, where does that fit into the whole picture? What is the constant butterfly theme woven throughout Rosie’s room and her accessories, all about? When Rosie & Jasper Ames were an item, and she was on the island at his parent’s weekend mansion on the waterfront, she filmed footage showing the waterfront as home to an endangered species of butterflies, whose habitat and collection was protected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (e.g. the Karner Blue Butterfly). She innocently sent the footage to the Mayor Adams’ office to let them know this, not realizing it would be the catalyst that would set into motion events…that would hasten her own untimely end.

I believe that Jasper’s father, Michael Ames, is involved in the waterfront project, along with Mayor Adams. Ames is the owner of a considerable amount of property on the Mercer Island Waterfront (as per the AMC show website), and most likely has a significant portion of dollars invested in the waterfront project, as one of its principle developers.

The mayor needs the waterfront project – it’s the platform he’s selling his whole reelection campaign on, and Ames needs the project, well… so he can rake in the dough.

The waterfront being home to an endangered species might very well derail the waterfront shopping complex development they have planned from getting underway, so they needed to bury the information Rosie brought to the surface, and in the process, it’s Rosie that got buried in a car trunk filled with water.

The waterfront project also suffers attack from the billionaire, Tom Drexler. Drexler wants to erect a stadium at the precise spot where Adams & Ames want to develop the waterfront project – right underneath Drexler’s window. Drexler does whatever he can to make sure that Richmond will get elected mayor, so he can cash in one of his favor chips and get his stadium built.

I don’t believe Richmond was actually threatening the Beau Soleil call girl when he was talking about what it would be like to drown. When he met the girl, he was most likely just a sad sap, remembering and mourning his wife’s death, because she herself had drowned in a lake after being hit by a drunk driver. We still don’t know who was driving the car when she died – most likely Richmond was, hence his inconsolable, unremitting guilt. Maybe like the Greek tragic figure, Orpheus, he tried to rescue his wife from hell (drowning), but was only able to drag himself to safety, leaving her behind.

In order to silence Rosie and the information she has about the endangered species, her murder is planned and carried out. To derail her investigation, the Adams camp place a call to police headquarters, and have Holder (a former meth-head cop with debts to repay), take over as Linden’s replacement. Throughout the investigation Holder leads Linden on one dead end after another. All the false leads and suspects who have come about so far – have been as a result of Holder’s police work. Think about it…

The cage in the high school that Holder found, led them to Chris, Jasper, Sterling, and the janitor as possible suspects. The wiretap that Holder put on Bennet’s phone led them to Muhammad and Bennet as suspects. Holder’s sponsor is the one who gives him the heads up on Stan Larsen’s previous mob connections. This later casts suspicion on Belko Royce, and Holder is the one who convinces Linden to haul in “Rat Boy” for questioning.

It’s also Holder who sees the photographs of the Larsen family above Belko’s bed, as well as the light that goes off in the Larsen’s apartment on the taxicab camera, that further implicate Belko as a suspect. Holder is the one who establishes the whole gas mileage placement that put Richmond at that out of the way gas pump. And then, when they needed photographic evidence on the tollway to establish that Richmond was indeed there, Holder conveniently was able to take himself out of the loop and say that after all the stuff he’s screwed up thus far, he really wasn’t in any position to call in any favors, so the request was called in under Linden’s badge number.

Holder knew that the photograph wouldn’t hold up in court, any decent defense attorney doing their due diligence, would be able to ascertain the cameras on the toll bridge hadn’t been in service since August. However, Holder could just blame the screw up on Linden – it was after all, her badge number used to call in the request, thus absolving him of any blame. When the case against Richmond is inevitably thrown out due to the falsified screen shot of him on the tollway, it will have been too late – Richmond’s reputation will have been ruined, and election day will have already come and gone, with Adams left as the only viable candidate. In addition Linden’s career will have been flushed down the toilet for having doctored evidence in a major investigation.

And remember as well – when Lt. Oakes flipped out about the wiretap about Bennet – guess who took the fall for that one too?? Linden. It was Holder’s idea, but remember he guilt tripped her earlier on in the season, by going on and on about how after the whole investigation was over and s**t hit the fan, Linden would be off gallivanting around Sonoma, and Holder would be left working as a security guard at the Space Needle? He knew how to work Linden in exactly the right way; he knew she could be easily manipulated by guilt, so he fed her two heaping scoops of it with a cherry on top.

Linden had seniority over Holder, so to protect him after the little pity party scenario he put forth earlier, she took the rap for placing the wiretap on Bennet, and Holder came out smelling like a rose. So nothing can be traced back to him – Linden’s been the one taking responsibility for everything, and the only ones who know the real truth are Holder and Linden. If it ever comes up, it will be a case of he said / she said, with all the fingers pointing at Linden.

The skull that was found that derailed the waterfront project, I believe, was planted there by Drexler’s people. They knew that finding bones on an Indian burial ground would put an immediate halt to the development, and effectively end Adams’ chances of winning the election. Drexler if you remember, is also the one who gave Jamie, Richmond’s right hand man, the information about Adams’ mistress who was pregnant with his love child, and this was then leaked to the media. Adams & Ames knew all this, so they finally decided to fight fire with fire, take off the gloves, and get in the ring to do some real damage (Drexler himself, if you recall, loves watching & participating in “Fight Club” style gladiator matches.) Adams & Ames decided to pull the switch, and get Richmond out of the race for good – by definitively pinning the murder of Rosie Larsen on him.

The doctored photo of Richmond on the tollway, was meant to irretrievably sink Richmond’s mayoral chances, and establish Adams’ victory.

However, at the end – when Holder said, “He’s going down” I believe the writers wanted us to assume that the “he” that was being referred to was Richmond, but I believe that Holder was actually referring to Tom Drexler, in that Drexler’s stadium wouldn’t be going up as a result of Richmond no longer being a contender in the mayoral race.

I find it a bit too ironic that the home & personal lives of certain characters (especially those who’ve been held up as suspects) have been shown; Sarah Linden – her difficulties with her fiancé and her son; Darren Richmond – his penchant for moody blues and scotch; Bennet Ahmed – his pregnant wife & devotion to his faith; Belko Royce – his bedroom at home that’s been frozen in time & his arrested development at the hands of an elderly lingerie-clad mother; Gwen Eaton – her dalliances with Richmond & silent musings over his true character as she stares off into space; and Tom Drexler – and his proclivity for basketball, boxing, and underage babes.

Other characters, have been shown on the periphery, at a removed and purely professional distance – leaving their whereabouts during their off-duty hours entirely out of the scope; Stephen Holder (we know he’s got an affinity for meth, pork rinds, hoodies, and waxing philosophical about JC & Buddha, but who is he really? Where does he live, what’s his backstory, what’s his personal life like?), Mayor Adams (we know he likes to frequent country clubs and knock up his interns, but who is he when he’s at home and alone?), and Michael Ames (we know he likes to slap his son around, and judging from the awkward exchange he had with Terri Larsen at Rosie’s wake, he’s most likely a former john of hers, but he’s been conspicuously absent after that.) I believe the writers show us what they want us to see, to lead us off in a different direction, but the real truth lies in what they aren’t showing. The key to the mystery is in the unfilled gaps, not in the plethora of information and plot twists they’ve painstakingly crafted, all of which serve to bounce us around from wild goose-chase after another, but nowhere nearer to cracking the case.

Whenever the writers of this show try too hard to make someone look guilty (Bennet with the letters to Rosie, Gwen with leaking info to the media, Belko with the photos above his bed, Jasper and Chris’ sex video, the pedophile janitor & his peephole), it’s only to throw the viewers off; this show likes its red herrings. They’re trying too hard now to make Gwen and Richmond both look guilty, and Adam’s look nice (by giving Gwen the pictures of Richmond and all his affairs, under the guise of someone who’s watched her grow up and who cares about her.)

The whole thing is just a pissing match of power, greed, and dollars, involving Mayor Adams, Michael Ames, and Tom Drexler. Rosie Larsen and Darren Richmond just got caught in the way, and Holder’s the facilitator working to try and make sure the Adams/Ames camp gets what it wants. So by killing Rosie and pinning it on Richmond – three birds have been killed (Rosie and her info about the endangered butterflies, Richmond’s chances of winning the mayoral race, and Drexler’s hopes for building the waterfront stadium), all with one stone, or rather, one drowning.

So who actually was the henchman who did the deed and waterlogged the car trunk and killed the Larsen girl? It doesn’t really matter. Maybe it was Holder, or maybe it was Adams’ campaign manager, Benjamin Abani, or maybe it was Jasper Ames, working under direction from his father, or maybe not. But what’s more important is why Rosie Larsen was killed, and how she fit into the whole scenario.

Just my two cents. I could be wrong, but I’ve tried to tie up all loose ends with this theory, and my gut tells me I’m on the right track.

Thanks for sticking with me this far and reading my “Killing Three Birds With One Stone” theory.

Thoughts? 🙂

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24 thoughts on ““The Killing” Whodunit Mystery Solved: Killing Three Birds With One Stone

  1. good work, detective!

    The Waterfront project is this plot line that looms in the background and only the most observant viewers have figured out its significance and how it ties everything together. I, myself did not see it or even figure out the possible motive for killing Rosie

  2. Very well done! I will tune in next season to see how the waterfront development project connects with Rosie’s fate. I agree that Rosie’s film has some greater importance….intrigued with the possibility you advance here. Left wondering, though, if Rosie could have stumbled upon information not previously available to local naturalists. That seems unlikely. With that said, you might turn out to be right. I look forward to learning more about the bigger pic. Thanks!

  3. This is excellent. I really tried hard, committed to re-viewing the first 12 episodes even with Holder in-mind as a plant, and I did not get this far. I kept trying to determine a “one-bird with one stone” plot, with either Adams’ camp or Drexler’s camp pulling all the dirty strings. I guess you still arrived at one side deciding to stoop to killing Rosie Larsen, but the triple-purpose satisfactorily puts all three threads to rest. Now admittedly, I did not see the thread about Rosie and the butterflies… I thought she had filmed Monarchs (not endangered, as far as I know), and that the endpoint was the film itself.. Did they actually tell the story of her sending a tape to the Adams campaign, or is that where you may be stretching a bit?? Top notch work though!! So far, your theory has my #1 vote.

    • I think it’s a great story, but really far fetched. Holder is too likable to be that character you describe. And the butterfly theory just sounds silly.

  4. This is the best theory BY FAR. But who cares? The writing was so bad. No show makes me hate moe. Add you being right, i get hate for show + admiratn for you, but my detesting does not dissipate. I will posit that the title “The Killing” is a double entendre on “making a kiling” and somebody is profiting from rosie larsen’s death. So, butterflies it is. Still, hate. But apprciate your effort!

  5. This is awesome – maybe you should be a writer on the show… You could fill in all the elaborate twists we need that tie together nicely in the end and make sense…unlike what the current bunch of scribes have done. But whatevs – thanks for the story, nice read.

  6. I take it you don’t want to just actually know who it is from the Danish version? Since it seems like they’re changing around very minor details but primarily following the same plot.

  7. excellent work! I may watch the second season now, just to see if you’re right. If you are, at least it makes for an intriguing plotline, rather than the writers’ botched attempt at intrigue.

  8. Bravo! I think this is top-notch TV writing. I wasn’t disappointed the murder mystery wasn’t wrapped up but rather they didn’t wrap up ANY storylines and lacked internal logic that just made for bad writing. Good on you for wrapping this up so neatly! I think you may really be on to something Veena Sud didn’t even see…

  9. I think it is far-fetched that politicians would scheme to murder a teenage girl just because she taped a movie about endangered butterflies. She can’t be the only one to approach the campaign with an agenda. The cover-up I can totally see, but the motive still remains a mystery. And what about all the money she was depositing?

  10. I hope the writer’s of AMC’s The Killing read your post and implement it in Season 2’s scripts!

    Someone forward this post to Veena Sud quickly! 🙂

  11. Interesting and well-written. But Linden isn’t present when Holder calls his sister and leaves a voice mail about helping a friend. If the NA story about stealing the coin was made up, he would not have made that call.

  12. Also, Holder delivers the doctored picture of Richmond to Linden and Lt. Oakes in Oakes’ office. No way that doctoring can be pinned on Linden.

  13. If you’re right, I liked this plot when it was called “The Pelican Brief” (and “Enemy of the State,” for that matter).

  14. This is awesome – very very thurough. You should send this in to Veena Sod, the showrunner and see what she thinks. Either you’ve solved the case, or they;ll take you on as a writer for the show. Too bad though, I don’t think they get paid very much, so don’t quit ur day job… but still very good plot youve put together.

  15. Nice slethuing. I will tune in now next season to see if your analysis is on point. If so – this would be a real break from season one that dragged us over so many places and led us no place. Keep the blog updated if possible, and we will see what happens. You could be on to something good here.

  16. No way is Holder the baddie you described… if he is, I iwll be so freakin pissed. He’s the only character I like on the show. I hope your wrong.

  17. Fabulous. Thanks- I reckon you’ve more or less nailed it.
    Still would like to know who did the actual deed- don’t reckon it was Holder. Maybe Ames.
    But it’s still speculation, hey?
    Will watch again, though, just so I can watch for all the clues you got, and I missed!

  18. Hi Everyone –
    I’m author of the “Three Birds With One Stone” post. I just wanted to thank everyone for taking the time out to read my theory regarding the motive instigating the whole chain of events, and the culprits and henchmen involved in carrying out the plan to execute Rosie Larsen.

    I wrote the post a few months back, and I apologize for not checking in or responding earlier. But here I am now – and I wanted to let you know I appreciate the feedback. And for those of you who enjoyed reading what I had to say – thanks for your kind words 🙂

    I can’t wait for the premiere of Season 2, sometime in 2012 – we’ll find out then if I was on the mark, or if I was completely off base…

    Until then – hopefully we’ll all find some other way to fill our Sunday nights, and enjoy the rest of 2011… Ciao!

  19. The escort girl told Holder to go to a certain street corner in order to find out who Orpheus was. When Holder got there and saw the posters of Richmond, his expression of disbelief and shock wasn’t put on for anyone – there was no-one (i.e. Linden) there to see his reaction to discovering the identity of Orpheus. He clearly didn’t know how far Richmond’s involvement went.

    Or he did and it was just a case of the writing on this show being awful.

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