The Killing Recap: 'He's One of the Good Ones'

the-killing-season-4-holder-Just like detective work, the sweet, sad success of The Killing lies in the sometimes terrible details:

A request from a battered street kid for popsicles in any flavor but orange. The proud defiance of a haggard old woman complicit in an unspeakable child pornography ring. A little blue teddy bear in a wooden trunk, its arms and feet chained in a submissive pose.

RELATED | Scoop on The Killing‘s Season 3 Premiere Ratings!

Yep, all these moments arrived like the thwack of a billy club to the torso during tonight’s episode, but at least our central crimefighting duo got reunited — and from the barely suppressed grins on their faces, it felt so good. Linden + Holder 4Eva! (Professionally, not romantically, obviously.)

Anyhow, let’s break down the key components of “Head Shots”:

THE CASE | I’ll be more than OK if we never again see the opening shot of Kallie’s harrowing sex tape, with that awful, awful voice asking, “Are you a virgin? Why are you crying, little girl?” In this instance, though, repetition proves a necessary evil, as Bullet identifies the scene of the child-porn tape as that motel that Holder and Reddick had previously visited. (You remember, the one with the creepy old lady behind the counter?) More startling? Bullet notes the ring on Kallie’s finger was one she’d given her just three days prior. Cue: Warrant! And cue Linden and Holder discovering a secret room behind the old woman’s (perp name: Mama Dips) office — complete with lights, camera, grim bed and aforementioned teddy bear. The old bat won’t crack, though, insisting it’s her voice on the videos. “I’m a heavy smoker,” she sneers by way of explanation. Hope they like her one-liners in hell.

Later, Reddick and Holder’s stakeout of Goldie goes awry when the pimp/kiddie pornographer/rapist/waste of oxygen leads them on a chase that ends up at the serial killer’s dumping grounds — and proceeds to make claims to the assembled media that the real murderer is on the lam, and might have another girl (Kallie) in his clutches. (Am I the only one who felt like this interlude could’ve/should’ve wound up on the editing room floor? Discuss.)

Linden and Holder, meanwhile, match the face of one of the girls in the porn tapes to the body of one of the murder victims. Things get murky, though, when a vice-cop friend of Linden’s identifies a second girl from Goldeo’s stash of videos — a pregnant, chain-smoking prostitute named Tiffany who’s very much alive and very well and still soliciting johns in Seattle. Linden tries and fails to get the young woman to identify the man who’d made hers and Kallie’s tapes; Tiffany notes they had Carl’s Jr, that the guy “let me have his fries,” that he was “one of the good ones.” (Also, he’s white and short.) But Linden feels like the woman is holding back. She brings Holder for a second pass, and our charming young detective notes how wrong it is that this john/videomaker ditched Tiffany after she’d grown into an attractive young woman. Girl can’t resist. She gives up a name — “Mills” — and as the episode ends we see the dude’s face. If that bit about the fries rings a bell, it’s because he’s the “kindly” perv who’d hooked up with Lyric in his cab last week. Oh, and if that’s not bad enough, we also learn he’s casually “dating” Kallie’s mom. What the what? Maybe he’s a red herring, but something is very much not right with this picture.

Oh, and this recap wouldn’t be complete without a huzzah to Linden for what may have been a verbal TKO in her icy relationship with Holder’s new partner. “He’s getting pretty good at it now that he’s learning from a pro — finally,” Reddick says as he and Sarah watch Holder grill Mama Dips. But later, after Reddick questions her methodology and lack of experience, Linden delivers an upper cut to the jaw that’s impossible to see coming. “Haven’t you ever wondered why you never made sergeant?” Linden asks. “Twenty-three years of experience, and all you are is in the way.” My big question though: Are Holder and Reddick kaput after Holder chose to accompany Linden to the Tiffany interview? Or is an official Holder-Linden partnership still a ways off?

THE KIDS | Another week, another round of setbacks for our Seattle runaways. Bullet, though, spills an interesting detail to Holder: She took zoology in “boarding school.” Could that be why her tough-girl slang sometimes sounds like a priveleged kid who’s trying to pass as a street scamp? (No kid without some education would be describing Holder as “a big, hairless albino Bugs Bunny,” that’s for sure.)

In other news, Kalie’s mom continues to be useless with regards to the investigation into her daughter’s whereabouts. “It’s just a phase. She’ll grow out of it,” she shrugs when Linden mentions the girl had been working as a prostitute. And she doesn’t even look that embarrassed admitting to Linden she hadn’t bothered to answer the door for her little girl on the night she disappeared.

And finally, as if our teenagers aren’t living the most dismal lives ever, Twitch gets raped by his parole officer; goes on a drug bender; ignores Bullet’s pleas and picks a fight (then loses very, very badly) with a gang of skateboarders; and realizes his dreams of modeling in L.A. are even less realistic than they were before his visage became a collection of gashes and bruises. Lyric comforts him, promises him first aid and popsicles, and they begin to kiss passionately, forgetting (or not caring) that Bullet is standing a few feet away. Sigh.

THE PRISONER | Seward gets closer with his neighboring convict Alton, and it doesn’t sit well with Becker. When the bald and angry prison guard confirms that Seward also refused to take his antibiotics for newbie colleague Henderson, he stages a little “intervention” by violently pummeling Alton until Seward swallows his pill. “I knew you’d see my way,” the uptight guard smiles.

By the bye, how is it possible that Becker inviting Henderson to his house after work for drinks and dinner would be a contender for the week’s creepiest moment? Watching Becker’s wife awkawardly cozy up to Henderson in the living room, with her son only yards away, while Becker fetches a case of beer his colleague didn’t even want…it was all a little too American Beauty by way of The Stepford Wives. Or Saw. Or something. I’ve never even seen Saw, so what do I know? I know I’m not even sure how I feel yet about the prison-guard subplot. And I’m still not sure where this is all going with Seward, but it’s becoming more clear that he’s past the point of trying to clear his name. “The truth is we all have a death sentence,” he tells Alton, “whether we’re innocent or guilty.” I’m guessing he’s a pinch of the former mixed with a heaping tablespoon of the latter. You?

What did you think of The Killing’s latest hour? What burning questions will keep you up tonight? 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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47 Comments
  1. WLE says:

    Linden and Holder back together makes me so happy. And how is this show making me feel sympathy for Seward. Even if he didn’t kill his wife, he is still insane yet I feel sorry for him in a weird way. This season has me hooked.

    • elr says:

      I totally agree! The people you should be rooting for, like the prison guard, parole officer, Kallie’s mother and Reddick are the biggest jerks around. I don’t know if it is a good thing or not when you want something bad to happepn to all these people in authority. And you do have to wonder if anything good ever happens in Seattle….

  2. Alicia says:

    Is there ever legitimate sunlight in Seattle?

    • Tv Fan says:

      I live in Seattle and it is sunny right now but rain does roll in tomorrow. Yes Seattle does get sun.

      • Jake says:

        Thank you for the weather report, but I think Alicia was commenting on how gosh darn dark this show is setting-wise- you can barely see any of the characters.

  3. Holly says:

    Holder calls her ‘mama san.’ Heehee

  4. Travis Rink says:

    You knew Holder and Linden were back full steam as a team when… 1) Holder said he’d drive when they were going to see Tiffany. He always drove them the first two seasons. 2) The preview for next week shows Holder out of his suit and back in the ‘hoodie and jacket he always wore the first two seasons.

  5. Joey says:

    Great episode. Good to see Linden and Holder working together again.

  6. Carolyn Collins says:

    Does anyone know the name of the actress that plays the woman that runs the sleazy motel????

  7. Carolyn Collins says:

    p.s. I don’t think that woman is *that* old, i think she looks pretty good, like someone’s grandma which makes her all the more creepy! :)

  8. Jenna says:

    So glad to have The Killing back. Holder and Linden rule. And, I agree, lots of creepy moments in this one, and not sure where they are going with most of them, which makes this show a fav for me.
    The drama with Twitch and Bullet and Lyric is just heartbreaking.
    The Linden smack down of Reddick was priceless.

    Can’t wait for Dexter to pemiere; then my Sunday viewing will be complete again. (Right now there’s a giant hole with GoT gone.)

  9. Judy Foreman says:

    Just starting to watch this season. Newbie question: Is it always this dark? I don’t mean the plot – but the lighting…as in, there isn’t any. Can hardly see faces half the time, plus there are entire swaths of black when they pan. By the half hour mark, I’m squinting and getting a headache from not being able to see, when I really want to. I get that it’s supposed to be depressing and it’s some cutting edge visual style decision, but why don’t they go all the way and just run black for 60 minutes and give us nothing but audio? Not hating, just straining!

    • Carolyn Collins says:

      The darkness from my point of view, makes the story darker as well. It is a noir type of setting to add to the mood of the show. I was also thinking it is rated PG14 and the scene where Twitch gets raped and some other scenes seem like it should be at least 16…Also when the actors whisper or talk softly you can’t understand what they are saying, so sometimes you miss some stuff :(

    • Jessi says:

      It’s not nearly that dark on mine. Maybe you should adjust your set.

    • The Beach says:

      The darkness plus the near-constant rain definitely adds to the Film Noir tone but also makes it a bit depressing. If it really is that dreary and rainy in Seattle maybe that’s why they gave the world Starbucks…just to stay awake:)

  10. Kelly says:

    First, Michael, I love your recaps. You add fantastic commentary that adds insight and shows your excellent inferring skills. Second, I am loving this season. Every week brings new and disturbing details. Finally, I found the Becker home scene super icky as well. It was like he was trapped at the Bates Motel. Can’t wait until next week.

  11. Chicago Dan says:

    The pace of the show has definitely picked up from previous seasons. Love the one lines. It’s also interesting how they don’t try to glam up street kids and prostitution at all. The kids are dirty, deal with dirty people, etc. This ain’t Pretty Woman.

  12. znachki says:

    I really like so much about this show, but I’m starting to think I can no longer watch anything “set in Seattle”. I know they film in Vancouver BC, and seeing places subbing, doesn’t bother me, productions have been doing it for years. But, note to showrunners:

    1) Hire a “native speaker” to help the actors. It’s YES-ler, not YEES-ler
    2) Check your company chains. There are no Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Seattle. The nearest ones are 1/2 hour out of the city at least. They hardly exist in this area. I doubt that the creep would go that far out of his way to get a burger.
    3) We don’t put the article “the” in front of our freeways. I know in California it’s “The 5″, but here, it’s not “the I-5″, it’s just “I-5″

    I know, picky, picky, picky, but it takes me out of the moment, and I hate that it does.

    • bobbie says:

      sometimes little details can be like a thorn in your toe, annoying you so that you can’t watch a series. I know that there was one show where an actresses eyebrows were so weird, I couldn’t take my eyes off her stupid, stupid eyebrows whenever she was in a scene.

    • The Beach says:

      I know what you mean. It can be distracting and takes you out of the story. I live in South Florida and was watching a show recently that was suppose to take place here. The main house where most of the story took place had hills behind it (there are no hills in South FL) and surrounded by trees one never sees here. I know it sounds picky but they could try a little harder to be authentic.

    • robinto says:

      perfect – I thought the same about Car’s Jr – and I’m from Toronto!

  13. Kim R says:

    So…the man going into to Kallie’s mom’s place was not the pastor of the youth shelter? I need to rewatch. I thought that is who it was. Duh….. :)

  14. Linderella says:

    Excellent episode. Linden and Holder back together made it a winner!

  15. The “bald and angry prison guard” is Canada’s own Hugh Dillon, founder and lead singer of “The Headstones” and current star of “Flashpoint”. He was also riveting in “Durham County”. Seems to me that Peter Sarsgaard is like a young John Malkovich in his mannerisms – not a bad thing!

    • Jill says:

      I am glad I’m not the only one who thinks he is like a young Malkovich……I also am getting a young Hannibal Lecter vibe as well, LOL.

      Am I the only one who is worried that they are going to make the son (Adrian?) the killer….and that the dad took the fall for him, or maybe that they kill girls together as a team?

  16. This season is so good, and I was quite fond of the previous two also.

  17. Skylar says:

    I wonder if it was newbie Gabe Henderson, of the prison guard subplot, who left the razor blade for Seward to find in the soap? Because what’s his story that he doesn’t want to go home to his wife and baby after a double shift on death row? Really how bad can his wife and baby be? And what would he not want to tell his wife… what could he tell his wife? His job is pretty dull except for witnessing acts of brutality by the guy to whom he’s telling intimate details of his home life. He’s my favorite for an early red flag. In fact, his otherwise near-normalcy stands out.

  18. BigDave says:

    Great season so far, I look forward to each episode so that is a good sign. Is it just me or was it news to the newbie prison guard Evan when Becker’s wife said that Becker was working double shifts? It was news to me and it sure looked like it was to Evan as well by his reaction. It also seemed as if he went along with whatever Becker had told his wife. I may be reading into this though…

    • Tina says:

      That was EXACTLY what I was thinking! When Henderson was talking about double shifts to Becker–prior to going to Becker’s house–Becker’s response led me to believe that HE never had any. It would stand to reason that he wouldn’t, if he was running Death Row. Either way, I think Henderson may be pivotal to eventually taking Becker down. Even Seward noticed his discomfort with what Becker was doing to Alton. They This show always does a good job at pointing the finger at a LOT of people and keeping us wondering what is coming next!

      This season, the show is doing a good job with exposing the ugly side of our prison and parole system. That stuff happens a LOT more than gets reported. Unfortunately, the vicitims of those crimes rarely get taken seriously–inmates, runaways, junkies, etc. Seen as guilty because of poor previous decisions or crimes they committed, they are easily taken advantage of by people in authority positions over them. And because of who they are or what they’ve done, few care or bother to help. It’s sad.

  19. Cagney says:

    My thinking was that Twitch picked the fight to get beat up so he would have an excuse for not pursuing the LA modeling thing as he fade his drug test – or so says his parole officer.

    I thought that Bullet was just joking when she said she learned the fact about a rabbit’s stomach. Sharing that she went to a boarding school seemed too intimate too share with Holder. But I like thinking she might have had a more privileged background.

    My first season watching the Killing- really enjoying it.

  20. Jenn says:

    Who plays Holders’s new girlfriend? She looks so familiar and I just can’t place her.

    • CJ says:

      Jewel Staite plays girlfriend.
      Funny aside — she was on Firefly, as part of the crew of Serenity. Serenity – the tattoo she tells Holder sounds like a stripper’s name.