Show of hands: Would anyone really be upset if I ended my recap of this week’s episode of The Killing right there?
I mean, yes, we all know bad things happen to good people. And we all know TV shows — especially AMC’s dark crime drama — aren’t under any obligation to deliver us happy endings. But still, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! I do not want to accept what my eyes witnessed in that taxi cab trunk, on that coroner’s table, nor the sadness and desperation and loss of faith that followed. No. Just no.
Bullet is dead, destined to become a mere statistic in the footnotes of the Pied Piper case. Seward is about to hang for a crime he didn’t commit. And there’s a sour smell wafting from that perfect souffle of a case that’s rising in the oven back at Seattle PD headquarters. (Anyone notice the bandage on the back of Reddick’s hand? Hrmmm…) Well, at least Linden had the good sense to deflect Holder’s ill-advised kiss in one of his darkest hours.
Let’s break down this week’s action:
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THE CASE | Danette comes home from a long stretch of posting “missing Kallie” flyers and finds Joe Mills looking like a total sociopath. He steals her cash and reclaims some of his camping equipment, and news of the crime interrupts Linden and Holder’s dull day waiting for Adrian to get psych clearance so Linden can interview him.
Danette directs the cops to Mills’ storage unit — Whaaaa? Nobody thought of that before now? — and upon arrival, Linden notices that not only has dude clearly been sleeping there, but that his cigarette butt is still smoldering. A desperate chase ensues, during which Mills and Linden get into a violent, frightening alteraction. When Holder shows up and overpowers the pervert, Linden distributes a series of “corrective” kicks to the dude’s torso, her own bloodied face a mask of rage and shock.
In the aftermath, Reddick arrives (suspiciously?) on the scene and says they’ve found a box of rings in Mills’ cab. “It’s Christmas come early,” Holder’s former partner boasts, but we all know Santa isn’t real, yes? Linden looks through the trophies and sees something that stops her in her tracks: It’s Bullet’s necklace, and she races downstairs to stop Holder from popping the trunk of Mills’ vehicle. It’s one of the saddest, most tense scenes in The Killing‘s three-season history, with Linden arriving just as the latch is sprung:
Linden: Don’t open the trunk.
Linden (pleading, almost whispering): Just come over here. Please, Holder. You don’t need to be here. Holder, please don’t.
But our swagger master can’t help himself. He looks, and sees Bullet’s corpse, her “Faith” tattoo a clear identifier on her bloodied wrist. She’s been dead less than 12 hours, and she’s got dozens of defensive wounds, Reddick tells them back at the station, before tempting Holder thusly: “Five minutes. No witnesses. Just say the word.” Not on Linden’s watch! Linden also notices Kallie’s blue ring isn’t among the collected pieces of jewelry. Could the kid still be alive?
Mills asks for Danette, and the cops oblige, but as the shattered mom tries to pump her ex for information, he’s trying to justify his child porn videos: “Those little girls — they came to me. It’s not wrong. It’s nature. Can’t be helped. They look at me with that ache — that sweet, sweet ache,” he says, half mad, and 100 percent despicable. “I was gentle and I took care of them. I made it go away.” What’s fascinating is how the thing that seems to upset Mills the most is when Danette says she spoke with his mom, and then adds “You’re not her little boy anymore.” Man, sometimes it’s the little details that make this show so wrenching.
Linden, crossing her t’s and dotting her i’s, goes and interviews Adrian, who identifies Mills as the killer from an array of mug shots. (When he says the lights were off in the kitchen, Linden flinches, leading to a moment of pure heartbreak. “The Christmas tree was on,” says the boy, knowingly, “that’s how [I could see].”
But later, during an innocent chat with Danette, Linden learns that Mills was in Alaska during the Christmas season in 2009 — meaning there’s no way he could’ve killed Tricia Seward. Holder theorizes that maybe Adrian wanted to please Linden, had seen Mills’ face on TV, and made the leap in his mind.
But it’s another innocuous conversation that leads to much more explosive results. A fellow cop informs Holder that Bullet called the station “a bunch of times” the night she was killed, and that Reddick was the one who logged it. Holder goes nuts, showing up at his ex-partners house and giving him a brutal beat-down while the man’s wife and daughter scream for mercy. It’s there that the camera flashes on the bandage on Reddick’s hand. Is that another red herring, or a red-handed sign of guilt? (I’m starting to believe it’s the latter.)
As the episode comes to a close, Linden floats back to the station and finds there are four rings from Mills’ cab that remain “unidentified” (aka don’t have a direct match to any of the girls’ corpses). Skinner tells her that he’d like her to stay on the force — that it’s where she belongs — and Linden puts the idea of Seward’s innocence to rest. “I was wrong,” she tells her boss/former lover. “There’s no connection between Tricia Seward and Mills.” But wait: That’s a half truth. Sure, Linden knows there’s no way Mills could’ve killed Tricia, but that doesn’t automatically mean Seward killed his wife, either. And her careful word choice tells me she’s holding onto that theory as quietly but doggedly as those four rings she took in their evidence bag to her car.
THE KIDS | With Bullet dead, Kallie missing, Pastor Mike in the clink and Angie on a bus to…somewhere, the story of our runaway youths is winding down. But the question is, do we really believe anyone gets a happy ending? Lyric informs Twitch that he’s no longer on probation, so he can move to L.A., and that her social worker has an apartment lined up as soon as she can get a down payment. So Twitch — maybe knowing how Bullet’s death has crushed his sometimes girlfriend — combines their resources and gets the apartment for both of ’em. “Being with you’s all I want,” he says, and it almost sounds like he means it. Lyric looks up at the ceiling of her clean new living quarters and gives a girlish twirl — right before her face twists into the saddest of expressions.
THE CONVICT | Seward’s game of taunts with bald badass Becker continues, with the prisoner promising that once he’s freed he’ll visit Becker’s wife and “have a go at her like everybody else here.” But Seward is crumbling under the weight of his imminent hanging — and the lack of response by Linden to his multiple phone messages.
During yard time, Seward’s deeply religious neighbor Dale confronts Seward’s desperation, his fear of death, and gets him to drop to his knees, weep, and pray for help. It’s at that exact moment Dale begins to laugh. Turns out he’s your garden variety sociopath who — locked away and unable to destroy lives with his hands — now goes ahead and gets the job done with his words. “Alton was easy, but you? I thought you’d be harder to crack,” he tells Seward, before walking away, bored. It’s a truly chilling moment — Dale’s eyes sparkling with delight at having broken a fellow human — but a nice touch in a season that’s often made cops look worse than convicts. (These death row dudes can’t all be repentant and gooey on the inside, right?)
And then there’s the ongoing saga of Becker and Henderson. The latter, upon finding out he’s been unknowlingly added to Seward’s execution detail, gets an emergency call from Becker’s wife, rushes to her aid, and discovers Becker’s son has shot a gentleman caller to their home. Becker arrives almost simultaneously, and in a flash, this hard-edged prison guard knows it’s his own child who’ll soon be behind bars. As if Bullet’s death wasn’t enough extinguished promise for one hour!
THE DETECTIVES | Holder refuses to give Linden a smoke at the storage unit: “Buy a pack or two — reciprocate the love every now and then!” he teases, but the l-word is now in the air, and it’s feeling like our hoodie-sporting cop is developing a crush.
After Bullet’s death, Holder splits with his cute ADA girlfriend, who winds up enraging him by noting “the danger these kids put themselves into every day” while she’s attempting to console him. Holder rages that she doesn’t even understand his “serenity” chest tattoo, explodes about how he used to shoot meth into his veins every day, and you know if either of ’em took a Cosmo quiz, they’d know the relationship could not be saved.
Linden, returning the favor Holder extended by visiting her after she was kidnapped, lets herself in to Holder’s place and tries to find out how her partner is doing. When they both sink back into the couch, cigarettes in hand, Holder goes in for a desperation-hour kiss, but Linden adroitly deflects it. Holder is mortified, but Linden consoles him in a way that’s almost sisterly. “It’s OK,” she says. “It doesn’t matter.” Grief makes people do crazy things.
What did you think of The Killing’s latest hour? Can you believe Bullet is gone? Who’s your pick as the real killer? And what burning questions will keep you up tonight? Sound off below!Follow @MichaelSlezakTV