The Killing Premiere Recap: 'The Light at the End of the Tunnel Is a Train Speeding Toward Them'

the-killing-season-3-premiere-recapHolder’s rocking suits and studying for the sergeant’s exam. Linden has food in her kitchen and laughs freely in the arms of her handsome young lover.

But don’t be fooled: While more than a little time has passed — and been relatively kind to our central protagonists — between Seasons 2 and 3 of AMC’s The Killing, the forecast remains gloomy with a chance of showers, homicide, downward spirals and crippling obsessions. Also, nobody’s actually given up smoking (despite their breezy lies to the contrary). And really, while these behaviors might be bad for our Seattle crime-fighting duo, they sure do make for compelling viewing, no?

In other words, whatever your feelings about the show’s much-maligned second season — personally, I thought it was still pretty addictive — its latest two-hour premiere, “The Jungle”/”That You Fear the Most,” promises to restore AMC’s back-from-cancellation underdog to must-see status.

Let’s cut to the recapping, shall we? First, a little check-in on what our heroes have been up to since we last saw ’em:

Linden’s Island Life | Linden’s no longer working homicide, instead having found minimum-wage employment working security on a ferry boat to and from the Seattle-area island she now calls home. Jack’s still living in Chicago with his dad, but there’s a new young man in her life — a sexy coworker named Cody — which allows for the premiere’s funniest exchange, Holder imagining a “Can Jack come out to play?”/”Jack’s not home, but would you like to come in?” scenario that leaves even Linden cracking up.

Call Him Sgt. Holder? | Holder’s done away with his undercover-dealer drag and gone all Justin Timberlake: “I be on my suit and tie, suit and tie s***.” (Lookin’ mighty fine, too!) He’s got a cynical new partner who’s more interested in getting credit for solving cases than taking on tough-to-crack murder investigations that might go unsolved. And as mentioned above, Holder’s got his eye on making sergeant (fueled in part by his impressive 7-for-7 solved record).

The shiny happy surfaces of Linden and Holder’s lives, of course, provide a stark contrast to the dark path they’re about to go down. And we know what’s coming, seeing how Season 3 starts with a teenage prostititue climbing into a car with an anonymous john, and later, Holder and his new partner coming to the scene of an abandoned warehouse and finding the girl nearly beheaded, her finger broken violently (and post-mortem) by a killer intent on stealing her ring (as a trophy?).

Here’s where it gets complicated: The lives of Linden, Holder, a group of homeless teens and a death-row inmate (Peter Sarsgaard) all get intertwined in the course of the investigation. Not all of the ties that bind them become entirely clear in the Season 3 premiere, but there’s certainly a suspect or three in the mix.

TROUBLED YOUTH | Early in the episode, we meet two homeless girls — sad-eyed Kallie and androgynous Bullet, the latter who pines away for a third street kid, the lovely but clearly troubled Lyric. Lyric, meanwhile, is caught up with an older guy, Twitch, who’s using her for sex and cash as he plans an escape to Hollywood to become a model/actor/whatever. International bad vibes surround the kids at every turn: Kallie winds up one evening with nowhere to stay — her own mother more interested in keeping a new boyfriend than keeping her daughter off the cold streets — and she gets into that same, horrible car that led to our first runaway’s hideous death. (Her fate remains unknown, but the prognosis is almost certainly fatal.) Bullet, trying to track down Kallie (who’s not answering her phone), winds up getting raped by a malevolent bearded dude who appears to prey on wayward youths and joked about Kallie’s death the day prior. Twitch burns through Lyric’s money in order to dye his hair. None of ’em seem like they’ll turn out to be the killer in question, but it’s conceivable that bearded dude and Twitch will get questioned — as well as the kindly pastor who houses as many kids per night as his shelter can accomodate. (He doesn’t offer them the light at the end of the tunnel, he says, he just tries to pull the kids off the tracks before the trains bear down on ’em).

(THE DRAWING OF) THE FOREST (OR THE TREES) | Remember that drawing that haunted Linden in Seasons 1 and 2 — the stark, bare-branched forest repeatedly drawn by a child who’d been stuck with his mother’s brutally murdered corpse for six whole days? Well, it’s baaa-aack in Season 3. Here’s how: The man Linden helped put away for the crime, Ray Seward, has 30 days till execution, but she’s got so many doubts haunting her that she’s kept the case file locked away in her attic (and finds herself showing up at the home of her pre-Holder partner/possible lover to confess her doubts). The victim of Seward’s alleged crime had her head nearly severed and her ring finger broken — and when Holder “accidentally” leaves the case file for his murdered teen on her kitchen table, Linden sees the connection and even visits the new crime scene (her shoes ruined by “stepping in that bouillabaisse,” as Holder notes). When a visit to Seward in prison uncovers more doubts (his memory seems dubious with regard to taking a ring off his dead wife’s body), Linden heads to a deserted corner of Seattle that resembles little Adrian’s drawing — and there, at the end of our two-hour premiere — she stumbles across a shallow pond filled with tightly wrapped corpses. Suddenly, Linden’s old obsession has new life — and you’d best believe she’s not going to be working ferry security for long, especially when she’s already asking Holder tough questions like why did the teenage victim willingly get out of a vehicle in the creepiest building in the creepiest part of town. (Sample theory: “He knows how to control them because he’s done it before.”)

HOLDER’S TOO GOOD FOR HIS JOB | Nobody seems too interested in taking on the dead teenage girl’s case, but something (a conscience?) won’t let Holder let go — even if he knows it’s going to be a minefield that distracts from that sergeant spot. But who’dve thunk even Linden would dissuade his eagerness. “Not every victim’s worth it,” she tells him, avoiding handing over the Seward file, thinking about her own self-immolated career, and trying not to get her own interest piqued. Holder’s response is a moment of sad perfection: “I never thought I’d see the day I heard that coming from you.” When he finds out the victim’s name was Ashley, and that she was just a troubled 14-year-old runaway with desperately concerned parents, he grabs the case head-on, going so far as to follow up on Bullet’s police report about Kallie’s disappearance. Could this risk his lovely life with a sweet girlfriend who buys him his own electronic toothbrush and DVRs shark-week programming they can watch together over popcorn? I sure hope not. I mean, just because Linden has serious work-life boundary issues doesn’t mean her former/hopefully future partner has to suffer the same fate.

DEAD MAN STALKING | And finally there’s the matter of this creepy Ray Seward. He seems not terrible as he’s transported to a death-row ward, that is until he grabs hold of the prison chaplin’s lapels and beats the man’s skull into the bars of his cell. And then he’s talking up the tired young prison guard with a newborn baby (could that guy or his hardass boss be a potential suspect? too obvs, maybe?) to let him call his lawyer, but instead using the call to harrass Linden’s long-ago partner. Something’s not right with the guy, but if your wife had been slaughtered, your child’s life thrown to shambles and you’d been wrongly convicted for it all, maybe you’d turn a bit sociopathic yourself? (Let’s hope not, and let’s hope none of us every have to find out). I do know Sarsgard’s bland handsomeness and menacingly cheerful tone add another layer of dread to the show whenever he’s on screen.

What did you think of The Killing’s Season 3 premiere? Are you ready to solve another crime with Holdern and Linden? Do you think we’ve already met the killer? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jennifer says:

    I have never even seen this show before this episode, I will be watching from now on! Sarsgard is wicked good in this, can’t wait for more.

    • Annie says:

      I did watch the earlier seasons but had lost faith by the end. I’m back now, for sure, after that quite solid debut for the current season. Also: I’m sorry but that was the GREATEST Firefly shoutout in the entire freaking HISTORY of Firefly shoutouts.

    • Crusader79 says:

      He’s a graduate of my Jesuit high school, Fairfield Prep in Fairfield, CT, I’m happy to say.

  2. Belle says:

    Season 3 premiere was good. The Killing is back! Happy to see Linden and Holder again. Can’t wait for next week’s episode.

  3. JD says:

    Sarsgard and Kinnamon were fantastic, and Enos was better in the second hour when her Linden character was working on the case and not fumbling through her ever downward spiraling personal life. I really dislike the Bullet character too. Street smart kid with anger issues? Boring and unoriginal. I hope they write out that character soon.

    • laura says:

      Love The Killing. Premiere did not disappoint. Linden and Holder like 2 sides of the same coin. Great actors.Holderisms!
      I enjoyed all the new cast especially scary man Seward.Bring it on Sarsgard.Holderisms!
      I think Bullet is a realistic street urchin. Even wayward girls need a mother hen watching out for them.Twitch with his dreams too! If not a model or actor would we also not be surprised if he said rock star or super athlete. Kids and their dreams and their invincibility.Kallie got booted from that motel and was “rescued” by someone she trusted.
      Like the serial killer plot. All the suspense and I can still eat lunch without losing it!

  4. Alichat says:

    Just FYI….it’s Kallie with a ‘k.’ Ok…onto the episode. The moment Holder walked into Linden’s house, I remembered what I loved the most about this show….and what had me sitting through the red-herring-filled first two seasons. They really are spectacular together….so nuanced and true. I’m wondering how long Gregg Henry will be around. His name wasn’t even in the credits, which I thought odd. I think they’ve done a great job of seeding some compelling stories….is Seward really the killer? Did he have a partner? If he’s not the killer, was he always such a psychopath? And who is the real killer? What happened between Linden and her former partner? Will Holder’s relationship survive this? (mad, mad props to the writers for having Jewel Staite not only point out Holder’s ‘Serenity’ tattoo, but also say it outloud and chat about it!) I do hope they can do more with Linden and her son. I’d love to see her actually talk to him. You get the impression he really doesn’t know his mother at all, and she never answers his questions or explains herself. I’d like her to try to help him understand her.

  5. Season Three of The Killing is even better than the first two. Giving the new season an A :-)

    • Ashley says:

      Watching the encore episode right now and SO FAR SO GOOD!
      ”I DON’T EAT MEAT BITCH”!-Holder. ahahaha gotta love him and his wisecracks.
      and…………….no he did not lie to Linden about quit smoking!!!!!!!!!
      As for that bullitt kid……………….that’s a GIRL?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Eliza says:

    I didn’t realize just how much I missed Linden & Holder until that first scene of them together. Enos & Kinnaman are perfection. I could kiss the person who kept Joel Kinnaman on my tv. He quickly became one of my favorite actors since this show started.

  7. Dmitri says:

    Watching the episode now. Great! As good as the last 2 seasons. The scene with the cows was creepy, though.

    Also, wasn’t that Kallie with the guy in bed?

    • Alichat says:

      That was Lyric in bed with Twitch.

    • t says:

      I didn’t understand the cows…where was that and why were they all dying and skeletons all over the ground? Also loved the first season, bc not about gory details. This one looks different, less about the victims’ lives (something I enjoyed in the first season) and more gore. Too bad for me.

  8. Maggieb24 says:

    My money is on the Pastor from the halfway house! #justsaying

  9. Marian says:

    I’m. Lovin Season 3. Holder is fine, sexy and good character. He’s on it. Linden is on her’s too. Good to see she Had somebody. But that is who she is! Good show. Can’t wait for next week. And oh those Cows!! So terrible! That brought Linden back to life!! Those Cows! Can’t get off my mind!

  10. Chicago Dan says:

    The cows great foreshadowing to Linden’s discovery at the end. Thank goodness, this methodical, nuanced show was given another chance. Enos/Kinnaman are pure gold. Just watching them interact is worth watching.

  11. Luvmygreys says:

    Love the actors, characters on this show. I am so glad they are back!

  12. welrdelr says:

    Computer addict… Just getting back into TV did not know The Killing was a series at the end I went to the kitchen and when i came back the MAD MEN was on.. Thought I had hit the tuner and spent a few minutes looking for the Killer before I looked it up on the PC. This program was a little bit on the wild side with all the young people (children) living on the streets making a living hooking. Even if the guy in jail is innocent he should be hung for beating that priest head against the bars.

  13. Angie_Overrated says:

    Where I’m already struggling is with the Seward character. It looks like they’re already setting him up to be an innocent, but the psychology of his flippant, violent, and seemingly guilty behavior is baffling. I’m well aware that tonight was the premiere of the season and that there’s likely much more to learn, but it’s not adding up… yet, at least. Let’s see if they can nail the highly nuanced complexities of last year’s conclusion with this year’s story. Off to a good start though.

    • Jennifer says:

      I kind of like what they are doing with Seward. He’s keeping everybody off balance and Sarsgard is great casting for this part.

    • nini says:

      Being not guilty of one crime doesn’t mean he hasn’t committed others. Obviously, he’s a bad buy on some level, but maybe he didn’t kill his wife.

  14. Millot says:

    Sooo good!

  15. Autumn says:

    I loved the season opener and I’m glad it’s back on the air. Despite what some people are saying, I really do love Bullet. She’s someone I can connect to on a personal level because we are so alike. She is what made me feel much stronger emotions throughout this episode (and what kept me awake because I was tired from a long day of outdoor work) than the first two seasons combined. I was almost in tears kast night when she got caught by that guy. *frustrated face*

    Ever since the previous case with the hooker was mentioned in the earlier seasons I knew it couldn’t have been the dad, just like Linden’s doubts. But to see all of those bodies in the swamp… My scan last night showed like twelve of them. What’s more interesting to me is how does this child relate to these bodies/their location????

    And also that ring that Bullet had looked kinda similar to the one that the victim (and then Kallie) was wearing (it’s like the same color I think, I’ll have to rewatch it). But if it is similar, then maybe they aren’t trophies at all and that they’re actually being pawned off. Is this killer like attracted to this ring or something (lol jk). So many unanswered questions.

    This is why u hate watching a show when the season isn’t complete because I have to wait a whole /week/ to see the next one instead of watching it all at once. Ugh!

    Amazing premiere.

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree about Bullet. There is something vulnerable and likable about her. I don’t know what saddened me more, what that guy did to Bullet or that the mother doesn’t care about her daughter. I know they are two completely different things, I’m not comparing but what mother thinks so little of herself that she tells her daughter that the daughter messed up the mother’s life? Who does that? If she was such an inconvenience the mom should have given her up for adoption. But so goes the show…

  16. AJR says:

    The Pastor did it.

  17. Kim R says:

    The cows. Foreshadowing? I think maybe. Really well done episode. I was wondering what they would do to make it different from the first 2 seasons. They certainly did it. I am so in! :)

  18. Robert Stevens says:

    Thanks for the very complete recap. I had forgotten about the premiere so wound up watching it on its second go round after Mad Men. It was getting late, I was getting tired, and at the end I got so fed up with the ratio of drama time to commercial time that I just hit the off button and went to bed. Now at least I know what I missed.

  19. robinto says:

    Loved it – love that it’s back.
    My only gripe is if Linden was so obsessed with Adrian’s drawing of the island/forest, why didn’t she visit the island before?
    (Loving the Cdn content – Hugh Dillon & Elias Koteas :) )

    • Chicago Dan says:

      I don’t think Linden put together the area until she saw the picture in his room – and noticed the building. You know, the creepy, filthy building where she got her shoes dirty. It was at that point, she realized there might be a connection. There are lots of trees and buildings in the Seattle area,… so she probably had no idea where that location was until she went on a hunch.

    • Kim R says:

      I thought that when she noticed the drawing on Adrian’s wall, the buildings were a new addition. I don’t remember her drawing having them. So I took it as if more was being recalled in the boy’s memory and it gave her more to look for which eventually led to the body drop area.

      • robinto says:

        ok – thanks for the replies – I remember now that the drawing in the boy’s room is different.

        A big thanks to Micheal Slezak for recapping and giving us the forum for discussion. I’d plug Idology here too but, not sure there’s much of a cross over!

    • Mary says:

      Loved The Killing and Holder/Linden and was so disappointed when I thought it was canceled but so happy when I heard it was back. First two episodes leave us asking a lot of questions and this show is so good that we will never guess who the killer is. I think it will be someone out of left field. Love this show – so real.

  20. ✨Don Draper says:

    I really enjoyed the season 3 premier. I also enjoyed following along with their website ( — or something similar), where there was a countdown and the page would refresh with an item from the show. whether it was a closer look at a photo or ID, or a bulleted list of pre-execution items….I found the ‘social media’ interaction another added bonus to this show returning for a 3rd season. My only problem is that we have to wait another week to have more fun and insight into these killings. Bravo to the team and crew who fought hard to bring back one of my favorite shows and cast pairings! “yo, what up Linden?” …. love this show!

  21. Linderella says:

    The foreshadowing took hold when she went home, got her gun, and went back to put the dying cow out of its misery. She hates the idea of suffering and relates to kids who seem to be throw-a-ways. That’s why she just wanted to “see” how the little boy was doing in the backyard rather than talk to him. She won’t be able to let this go. Stellar acting from Kinnamon, Enos, and Sarsgaard. The Killing is better than ever. Thank you AMC for helping me deal with my Orphan Black withdrawal!.

  22. Brenda says:

    I tuned out midway through season 2 and decided to give it a go again due mostly to the raving reviews in all of the media. I am really glad I did … I am in for the long haul

  23. DavidSask says:

    It pisses me off that the show has to focus on girls again and them being killed or abused etc…!

    • nini says:

      I kinda felt the same way. I’m tired of seeing females being victimized all the time. Men are victims too…give us females a break!

  24. arial2 says:

    Great start to the new season (even if just as dark as the past two seasons). I think the “I’ve quit smoking” lies say a lot about Linden’s and Holder’s relationship. But I do wonder if they ARE both trying, just failing every once in a while. I think Holder’s smoking scene was more about street cred than needing a cigarette. And Linden seemed to be sneaking off for a smoke instead of smoking openly as in the past. (I was kind of hoping Holder would toss the pack to Bullet as he walked away, but that wouldn’t have worked well for his cred: trying to “buy” favor). I just hope other reviewers are giving this show another chance (ARE YOU READING THIS, MO RYAN?). They PROMISED this case will be resolved by the end of the season and I think the showrunners learned their lesson after the whole Rosie Larson hand-wringing (I didn’t mind the continuation into season two but, apparently, a lot of others felt cheated, somehow).

  25. i loved lil bullet…xoxo

  26. carolyn230 says:


    • suz says:

      Somebody desserted them and left them to die, very common in that part of the country. Maybe a forclosure on a farm? Horrible.

  27. Estrella says:

    I’m thrilled that The Killing is back! While watching the season 3 premiere I was reminded how much I’ve missed this show!

  28. Marilyn Fleming says:

    I believe the minister could be killing the girls. He has contacts with all the runaways.

  29. Julie says:

    The Police officer with no hair did it.
    Think about it.

  30. Julie says:

    Sorry, the killer is the prison guard, the bald one