‘The Killing’ Review: “Reckoning”
After clearing Pastor Mike of guilt (mostly) in last week’s episode of ‘The Killing,’ Linden and Holder now resume their search for the kiddie pornographer from the motel in a desperate attempt to find their serial killer (and maybe still save Kallie) before it’s too late. The title of this week’s episode is “Reckoning,” and it could not be more apt.
Holy hell. What an episode. I’ve consistently though throughout season 3 that ‘The Killing’ has finally found itself, and that with the time constraint placed upon the writers by not knowing whether they’ll get a fourth season, they’ve been forced to re-examine their approach — and it’s made the show stronger for it. It still has the hallmarks of the first two seasons: the red herrings, the rain-soaked, soggy atmosphere that mirrors the sadness and grief of its characters, and the compelling detectives at the show’s core. In season 3, we get all of the things we like, but with less meandering. Before, it felt like the show was fighting to string the audience along, trying too hard to stretch the narrative as far and as taut as it would go, always toying with us to the point of condescension.
Not so anymore. This week’s episode swiftly moves away from Pastor Mike as Linden and Holder redirect their efforts back at Joe Mills, Danette’s boyfriend and the guy responsible for those heinous kiddie porn videos from the motel. Easily the most engaging scene of the night comes just 12 minutes into the episode, when the detectives pay a visit to Mills’ storage locker, only to find him there — a fight ensues between Linden and Mills, and the cops find a cache of rings taken from the teen victims. As Holder goes down to investigate Mills’ car, believing there’s a body in the trunk. We watch Linden as she discovers Bullet’s necklace and rushes to stop Holder from discovering Bullet’s body. It’s heart-wrenching, life-changing stuff. Linden’s innate, nurturing instinct forces her to rush to prevent Holder from suffering the horror and pain of making that discovery, but she can’t protect him.
As for Holder, things are getting much darker. He saw so much of himself as a wayward youth in Bullet, and thought because he empathized he might be able to save her from facing a future so similar to his past. It’s so sad watching him as he yells at his girlfriend for not getting where he comes from, lashing out in an effort to almost make her hate him — if she could just see the “real” him, the him he still believes himself to be somewhere deep down, then maybe he’ll get what he feels he deserves, some punishment for allowing Bullet to die. Hopefully this doesn’t lead Holder down the path back to drugs, but I look forward to seeing how he reconciles this death in his own mind.
And it is seriously the most upsetting moment — knowing Bullet is in that trunk, and how well we got to know her over the course of this season. She was the gatekeeper to the homeless youth, allowing us to empathize and sympathize with kids that are lost and often overlooked as trash. Through her we got some marvelous moments of depth from Holder.
The other great thing about this episode is that the show manages to pull off this double red herring of sorts — Mike was the fake-out that led the detectives back to Mills, and all season we’ve believed that whoever is responsible for these murders is the real killer of Ray Seward’s wife. But that was a fake-out, too. Seward may not have killed his wife, as Linden still believes, but there’s nothing tying Mills to the teen murders, aside from Adrian picking him out of a photo line-up — but Adrian could have seen Mills on the news, and Danette swears Mills was in Alaska at the time Seward’s wife was murdered. And now Linden must struggle with trying to get Seward a stay of execution so she can re-open his case. As Holder suggests, that’s not going to be easy, and she’ll be burying herself under a mountain of old evidence.
Seward comes to a place of acceptance this week, realizing that Linden may not be able to follow through on her promise after all (she hasn’t returned his calls; she’s busy, obviously), and he turns to God for comfort, only to discover that his cellmate has been manipulating him to the breaking point just to watch him beg for mercy.
This week we watch all of our major players fold into their weakness in some way: Seward succumbs and desperately cries out for a God that could grant him the peace he can’t make for himself; Holder retreats into his shell, blaming himself for Bullet’s murder and regresses to his more aggressive self; and Linden once again loses herself in the same case that drove her to depression years ago, placing the lives of others above her own.