'The Killing' Review: "Off the Reservation"

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The epic battle between Native Americans and the white man continues in this week's episode of 'The Killing,' as Linden rushes to find Holder before it's too late.

This week's episode is a marked improvement over the last few in that it captures a sense of urgency we haven't experienced in some time. 'The Killing' has tossed us red herring after red herring, but it finally looks like we're making some welcome, if not still flawed, progress.

When we last left Holder he was in the hands of Chief Jackson and her gang of wily Native Americans on their reservation. As Holder fought for his life, the Chief called Linden so she could hear her partner's screams. Now the clock is ticking and Linden must contend with Lieutenant Carlson who, thanks to a grudge against our red-headed heroine, has called off the search party for the missing detective. Linden threatens to expose the forged toll booth photo of Darren Richmond if Carlson doesn't green light the search, so he concedes.

During the search, a young Native American girl near a dump site points to the woods to tell Linden where Holder is. It's a haunting image that evokes a sense of something eerie happening on this island reservation -- as if we weren't already wary enough. Holder is, of course, saved in the nick of time and experiences a reinvigorated appreciation of life and his family, particularly his nephew.

Linden isn't out of the woods yet, and Carlson forces her to turn in her gun and her badge, unceremoniously removing her from the force and the Larsen case. Obviously a simple gesture of concession isn't going to keep Linden away from the case -- not when she's starting to make some real progress. She meets with the hotel maid from the casino who slipped the matchbook to Holder in last week's episode. The teenager tells Linden that Chief Jackson controls everyone on the reservation -- who works, who doesn't -- and that Rosie was working at the casino as a maid and sometimes waitress.

While this indicates that the prostitution thread was one big roundabout play from Veena Sud and her writers, the work here to reveal Rosie's real reason for being at the casino is done with some startling nuance. Still, what of the man in the car watching Linden and her son Jack? And what of the drawing that made its way onto Linden's refrigerator?

The maid does provide some crucial info: Rosie often went to the 10th floor for smoke breaks. Said floor is a construction site, and that key that was found on Rosie's person will get Linden access to the site. Too bad she's just been fired.

The cops show up at Linden's place to presumably ransack it for any evidence from the case that Linden might be hoarding. During all of this, Jack has fled down to the dock and Linden makes an executive decision to send him to his father in Chicago to keep him safe and out of harm's way. The scenes this week between Jack and Linden are executed beautifully, providing a real sense of the bond between the two. It's been a rocky road with Linden and Jack, and while last season painted him as the typical rebellious teen, this season provides Jack with legitimate depth of character. He's more than just a troubled teen, and Linden goes to great lengths to illustrate that she understands him like only a mother truly can. Her words to him before he boarded the plane were moving, and for once we really get a sense of the connection they share.

Meanwhile, over in Richmond Campaign Snoozeville, Gwen and Jamie hatch a plan to get Richmond in on the waterfront plan with Chief Jackson, which is a nice -- if not a little too convenient -- way to keep Richmond in the fold of the ongoing mystery.

Stan is still trying to do a little detective work of his own, but his meager offer of a reward for information leading to the arrest of Rosie's killer is bringing out some real nut jobs and opportunists. Exasperated after meeting with yet another dead end, Stan meets with a woman who can empathize with his ordeal, as she tells him how she lost a young daughter of her own. The woman claims to have information on Rosie, and Stan's eyes light up with possibility. Unfortunately, she's just another kook -- she claims she's a medium who can -- for a small fee, of course -- put Stan in touch with his dead daughter. In any other episode, this scene might have seemed maudlin and cheap, but here, in the midst of a suspenseful episode when we're all breathlessly waiting for something to break or the other shoe to drop at last, the moment is heart-wrenching. This is something that real, grieving people in this world experience -- the opportunistic nature of people and how they will prey on you in your weakest emotional valley just to make a few bucks.

While we don't make any definitive headway this week, aside from a little bit of key information from the casino maid and even more evidence of the sinister nature of Chief Jackson and her people, 'The Killing' managed to do what it rarely does best by giving us an episode filled with pathos and genuine character moments, ensconced in solid mystery and suspense.

Filed Under: AMC, The Killing
Categories: TV News, TV Reviews
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