Performer of the Week: Joel Kinnaman

Joel Kinnaman The KillingA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Joel Kinnaman

THE SHOW | The Killing

THE EPISODE | “Reckoning”

THE AIRDATE | July 21, 2013

When Season 3 of The Killing began, Joel Kinnaman’s Det. Stephen Holder, the recovering meth addict with charming street swagger and an offbeat sense of humor, was all cleaned up — rocking a suit and tie, cracking cases like they were flimsy peanut shells and even mulling the possibility of a promotion to sergeant. Over the ensuing couple of months, though, we’ve seen him fall under the grip of an impossibly difficult case: The vicious serial slayings of at least 17 runaway girls living in the underbelly of Seattle. Still, while Holder — reteamed with his not-quite-stable partner Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) — began retreating into his old gray hoodie, began snapping at underlings with an unexpected viciousness, his sweet, lighthearted side stayed afloat in large part due to his budding friendship with a tough, homeless lesbian teen named Bullet.

RELATED | The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman on Humanizing Holder and Making Robocop Real

In “Reckoning,” however, we see Holder’s emotional house of cards come tumbling down when — after apprehending a possible culprit in the Pied Piper slayings — he pops the trunk of the suspect’s cab and begins to open it. Linden, having spotted Bullet’s signature necklace among the killer’s triophies, realizes the horror contained within and rushes to stop her partner. “Please, Holder. You don’t need to be here. Holder, please don’t,” she begs him, but he’s headed down a road from which there’s no turning back. Inside, lies the body of the charming girl whose phone calls Holder had ignored just the night before — a punishment for an overzealous and ultimately erroneous tip she’d provided that got him in trouble with his superiors. Without speaking a single word, and while barely moving a single facial muscle, Kinnaman captured Holder’s shock, disgust, disbelief and despair via a trunk’s-eye-view camera shot.

Later, Linden finds Holder alone in his darkened apartment, surrounded by empty beer cans and blaming himself for the tragedy that’s unfolded. Kinnaman keeps his character’s gaze straight ahead — almost as if he’s in a trance — until, overcome by his partner’s kind words and consumed by his grief, he leans in and tries to kiss her. When she dodges the ill-advised move, the seen-it-all cop finally cracks, sobbing into his hands, as Linden tries to convince him everything will be OK.

Capping a troika of gut-wrenching scenes, Holder discovers at the end of the hour that fellow detective Reddick had logged a series of calls Bullet made to the station on the night of her death. Kinnaman, descending his beloved character into an almost animalistic state, arrives at his ex-partner’s house and beats him with a ferocity that leaves the man’s wife and daughter attempting to subdue him while screaming their pleas for mercy in the process. The terrifying, bloody scene left us wondering how deep Holder will sink in a sea of guilt and regret. Regardless of the answer though, Kinnaman’s riveting work will keep us taking the journey with him.

HONORABLE MENTION | As USA Network’s Burn Notice barrels toward its series finale with a thrilling season, it slowed down this Thursday to afford Jeffrey Donovan a real gut-punch of a showcase, as Michael pulled out all the stops to get closer to Sonya’s boss (played by John Pyper-Ferguson). As part of this almost sadistic “interview,” Pyper-Ferguson’s character — who was ultimately revealed to be named James — plied Michael with a brain-addling cocktail of “truth serum” and hallucinogens, sending our brave hero down a rabbit hole where he confronted a vision of Fiona (reminding him of the lives at stake if he spilled too much) and revisited formative, destructive relationships with “Crazy Larry” Sizemore (played by Tim Matheson) and his abusive father. Through it all, Donovan depicted a strong man, an elite spy, compromised in a way never before and loath to let slip anything he shouldn’t, even as he lost most every bit of control. The episode was titled “Psychological Warfare,” and Donovan indeed compellingly portrayed a tragic victim of brutal mind games.

What performance knocked your socks off this week? 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. kate says:

    well deserved. great performance.

  2. Castle Lover says:

    This is rare. I actually agree with both choices. Joel and Jeffrey were unbelivable this week. It was hard to watch both, but in a good way.

    • Spoiler Junkie says:

      Totally agree.

      Also, Jeffrey Donovan can surely bring those agonizing emotions to life. He was similarly awesome in that short lived Touching Evil series where he starred with Vera Farmiga

  3. Philip says:

    Is it my imagination or was there not a “Performer of The Week” for last week? Does anyone know why? (Due to Comic-Con?) I am curious as to who the TVLine crew thought was the Performer of the Week last week!

    • esta says:

      I assume that with Comic Con and the travel and attending things, and hotels with no PVRS, they just skipped a week.

  4. AT says:

    Quite right! He was amazing. Some of the best acting I’ve seen in a while.

  5. Emma says:

    Very well deserved. He’s been amazing as Holder since day one but last episode’s performance was specially memorable.

    • Two says:

      Agree 100%. When The Killing was canceled, my biggest disappointment was that Holder was not coming back. I think he is one of the best characters on TV thanks to Joel’s performance.

  6. Mari says:

    Really well deserved! The Killing is perfect this season!

  7. DanielleZ says:

    Happy to see Joel Kinnaman recognized for his fine performance in last week’s The Killing. Just rewatched the episode last night. Superb acting.

  8. ari says:

    Donovan was simply outstanding. His emotions, expressions….he bearded his soul. He & only he could have done justice to this role. Hope he gets an Emmy or at least a nomination.

  9. Patrick Maloney says:

    Last week’s performance of the actor who play Pastor Mike should’ve been on here, but you decided to skip that week. The actors are so good on this show, hope it doesn’t get cancelled

  10. Jasmine says:

    I Completely agree with Ari. Jeffrey Donovan deserves an Emmy. He is an amazing actor and deserves to be recognized. Besides that he has a hot body and is very very sexy when he walks into any room but also very humble and down to earth.
    Burn Notice fabulous cast of Jeffrey Donovan, Sharon Gless, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, and Coby Bell is unbeatable and we will miss it greatly but I am proud and honored to be their fan.

  11. Joey says:

    Joel did a great performance in last week’s episode. I hope he’ll get nominated for awards in the next awards season.

  12. Chicago Dan says:

    This season of TK has been remarkable – mainly because of the rockin’ performances from JK and ME. JK is always solid, but this was he finest hour (yet). Here’s hoping to S4 – despite the ratings.

  13. Vera says:

    Jeffrey Donovan most certainly deserves an Emmy for his work but may I add that his work has been stellar during the entire seven seasons of Burn Notice.

  14. ryan says:

    Burn notice sux the acting in that show is awful lol

  15. joterri says:

    Joel K., rocked last week “and” in previous season on The Killing.The character has many levels of dept we as the audience get to watch unfold every week. Joel and Mirielle are perfect partners for this series.I hope a nomination comes their way.Please a season 4 with these two great actors.

  16. Matilda says:

    Jennifer Carpenter anyone? She is amazing in Dexter.

  17. J says:

    Joel Kinnaman is the best…The Killing has been outstanding this year, watch people.

  18. Luvmygreys says:

    Agree 100%. Joel was spot on. Love this show.

  19. Josh says:

    He is one of my favourite actors because of The Killing

  20. redjane12 says:

    Totally agreed on Kinneman and The Killing – it helps that the writing is good but no doubt acting in that show is far better than average.

    I was a bit surprised with the mention of Donovan though as his acting is pretty flat and wooden though it kind of works since his Burn Notice character isn’t very nuanced, more focussed on action scenes where he does a good job

  21. Ashley says:

    Joel Kinneman 100% deserves it. Love holder…………..that was a TOUGH SCENE to watch as he opens the trunk to see bullet’s dead body. which i’m still in shock I MISS BULLET!!!!!!!!! ………..Can’t wait 4 2nite’s episode!

  22. Magically Suspicious says:

    Pulling The Killing from the ashes is the best decision AMC’s made yet. Such a good season and Holder/Linden have chemistry that radiates.

  23. Vera says:

    It is totally without question that Jeffrey Donovan is the best actor on TV today. He has shown his talent over and over and has now gone over and above the highest mark. There is no contest here!

  24. d says:

    How come JK never was never nominated for the Emmy as Holder?!