Just when you think things can’t get any darker on Season 3 of The Killing — Kallie’s still missing, Seward’s execution is closing in, Holder’s still rocking that hideous gray hoodie — more clouds float in to block the last few rays of light.
This week’s installment, “Try,” finds Linden contemplating an untimely demise, Seward collapsing under the weight of his fate and Bullet foolishly putting herself in harm’s way. Let’s break down the good, the bad and the especially bleak:
THE KIDNAPPING | Last week we left off with Pastor Mike in the back of Linden’s car, holding a knife to her throat and demanding that she drive away from the train station where his blood-stained vehicle was being examined by the Seattle P.D.
“Try” picks up right where we left off, with Linden’s police colleagues just a stone’s throw away, but the threat of death prompting her to give up her gun and her phone, fasten her seatbelt and drive in the opposite direction. (Show of hands: Who’d have just hit the gas, headed directly for that sea of blue uniforms and figured it was better than ending up in a dark, quiet place with a possible serial killer?) Slick detective that Linden is, though, she tells Pastor Mike she doesn’t have a radio, then leaves said device wedged against her thigh and transmitting (she hopes) to Holder or anyone back at the station via an open channel.
As they take a tour of Seattle’s depressing after-hours streets, Linden keeps the conversation flowing. “You treat me like I’m some kind of pervert,” Pastor Mike growls in a voice that, to be honest, sounds a little like a pervy prank phone call. Then later, as Linden reveals she grew up as a foster kid, he shares a chilling thought: “That’s what they taught you, I suppose: Humanize yourself so your abductor won’t kill you. It won’t work.”
And yet, the whole time, there’s the sense that Mike is not the Pied Piper. Linden moves him along to the subject of the kids he saves at the Beacon, the “human garbage” he’s helped his whole career. Mike says he never meant to hurt the girl in Tempe, AZ, the one who he’d been accused of kidnapping, prompting him to change his name to a false identity. “Was she your first?” Linden asks, but Mike finally stops playing cryptic and starts hinting at the truth we already know: “I listened to her beg, scream for me to let her out,” he tells Linden, adding that the girl was throwing up and crying for three days “You were detoxing her?” Linden asks. “And no one believed me,” Mike responds.
I’m not sure what Mike’s motivation is — or even if he has one. Even when he makes Linden drive her car into a desolate, dirty parking garage, he doesn’t seem like he wants to harm her. Maybe he’s just buying time till his whole house of well-intentioned cards comes crashing down? “I’m having a cigarette,” says our protagonist, hedging her bets just in case. And then, as the scenic drive continues, Linden feels the need to confess: She let her son go, she didn’t lose him, she tells Mike, recalling when Jack was young and used to delight in hiding under her covers till she’d find him. “I didn’t know how to tell him: This is all I’ve got,” adds the defeated single mom, verbalizing her emotional limitations. At the same time, though, she’s smart enough to make reference to a friend of hers (Holder) who’d once lost hope — and how she found him standing on the median of a bridge. Holder, having discovered Linden’s radio feed on an open channel, realizes the car is near the Biltmore Pier.
As they approach the waterfront, Mike reveals that Angie — the girl who’d escaped the Pied Piper with all but one of her fingers — would’ve rather bled to death in a drainage pipe than go to the hospital and be put back in the system, so yes, he’s the one who took her to the vet clinic, paid $800 in small bills and hoped for the best. (With a still-at-large murderer targeting young, homeless girls, wouldn’t you think Mike might’ve/should’ve decided Angie’s need for anonymity was trumped by the need to keep her safe — and catch the killer? Dude deserves a few nights in the county slammer just for failing to call 9-1-1, as far as I’m concerned.)
Finally, Mike makes Linden get out of the car, drop to her knees. ”You don’t have to do this. You’re making a mistake,” she says. And then Mike kneels next to her: ”Please forgive me, father. I’ve fallen so short. I don’t know what to do. I’ve failed them.” Just as I’ve convinced myself that Mike will turn the gun on himself, he drops the weapon in the water, a cavalcade of cop cars arrives, and Linden leaps up to put herself in between her kidnapper and her cohorts. ”He doesn’t have a gun!” she screams, valiantly, not wanting to witness yet another senseless loss of life.
Mike is carted away in cuffs. Holder sidles up to Linden and affectionately rubs her back. And a miserable, miserable day reaches its less-than-satisfying conclusion.
THE CASE | Bullet, freaked out by a phone call from Lyric about Pastor Mike’s creepy behavior — and by news that dude might be a major suspect — convinces Holder that the good preacher took Lyric to the park (just like the prior 17 victims) with the intent of killing her. And with that info, Holder convinces Skinner to devote a good chunk of the department to a search mission.
Meanwhile, some good old-fashioned detective work reveals Pastor Mike was in Mexico City for most of 2009 — while the murders were occurring — and that Lyric had actually fled Mike’s house for a night of hustling. After a reprimand from Skinner, Holder turns all of his frustration and anger onto Bullet, calling her a “junkyard little bitch,” then screaming, “I’m not your friend. I don’t give a s*** about you — you’re just a nobody, nothin’ punk-ass kid. Now get out.” And then he shoves her — more violently than any cop should shove any kid ever.
That jolt sends Bullet to a drug dealer — maybe looking to escape it all — but the dude makes mention of a nine-fingered girl he’d just seen a few hours back, a scared little thing heading out of town. So Det. Bullet rushes to the bus station, tracks down Angie and bribes her with drugs to give up the identity of the sociopath who tried to end her life.
When Bullet calls to share her intel, Holder sends her through to voicemail, and then I’m yelling at my TV because Bullet says in her message that she knows whodunnit — BUT SHE DOESN’T GIVE UP A NAME OR ANY KIND OF CLUE! And as Bullet sits all alone in a quiet diner, a verrrrry crrrrreeepy looking car pulls into the lot, the faceless driver’s gaze moving toward the one teenager to whom we’ve grown most attached over these last couple months. (But wait, if it’s the killer who’s in the car, how could he possibly know Bullet’s made him? Or are we supposed to believe he’s randomly stumbled across her?)
THE KIDS | Not much activity on the runaways front this week, except for Lyric getting irked with Bullet for reporting her missing from Pastor Mike’s. “I don’t belong to you: I’m with Twitch, OK?” she huffs, breaking Bullet’s heart and making the worst kind of self-destructive relationship decision in the process. Aren’t you glad you’re not a teenage girl?
THE CONVICT | Seward starts pushing his attorney to call Linden — she’s got information that can clear him — but with 48 hours left till his client hangs, Mr. Lawyer has bleaker concerns: What does Seward want done with his remains? Would he be OK with a “country grave — just a marker and a number”? Yikes on top of yikes.
Is it any wonder, then, when Seward has a full-blown panic attack on his way back to the cell? More suprising is the fact that it’s bald bad-ass Becker who holds Seward’s face, and talks him down from the emotional ledge. “Stay looking in my eyes. You’re not dying,” Becker barks, but not without a little bit of compassion. “You’re having a panic attack, that’s all.” Becker, naturally, doesn’t appreciate when he looks up and sees Henderson with a giant exclamation point floating over his head.
Speaking of Becker and exclamation points, dude’s wife shows up — with her teenage son — to try to talk to Henderson at the end of his shift. “Sometimes he doesn’t come home for nights on end,” she complains of her husband, before turning on the damsel-in-distress act for his partner (whom she barely knows). “Can you just sit with me — just for a little while?” Henderson takes a look at the woman, takes a look at her son sitting grimly in the waiting area, and offers a feeble “I’m sorry” before fleeing the scene. The whole exchange makes me think Becker’s just too easy an option to be our killer. I mean, why not have him wear a T-shirt that says, “I’m the angry guy who disappears for hours at a time and wears a uniform that might make girls initially trust me, and inevitably fear me!” Quiet Henderson seems like a better bet, especially if that baby spit-up from Episode 1 turns out to be nothing more than crime-scene gore. (I know, I know, that’s a dark thought…but it’s The Killing! And The Killing evokes dark thoughts!)
Seward, meanwhile, tries a final Hail Mary. He calls Linden and begs for her help. He can get her in a room with his son Adrian — who might have some untapped memories of our Big Bad — if she’ll agree to help him. Now that’s the kind of offer Linden’s not gonna be able to refuse, right?
THE DETECTIVES | For the second straight week, Holder threatens to pop a uniformed cop — but this time he’s got a pretty good excuse, since the guy is listening to kidnapped Linden’s radio chat with Pastor Mike and joking, “50 bucks says she starts crying.”
Gentle Holder returns once Linden is safe, offering a gift of Chinese takeout and his usual conversational swagger. “What more could you want?” he asks. (Me, I want Holder to get back to his apartment, take a long hot shower, and share a meal with that peach of an A.D.A. he’s been seeing. Maybe even pick her up a gluten-free cupcake on his way. Nobody wants him blasting Cinderella’s “Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone” and sobbing into his pillow in the Season 3 finale, right?)
My favorite moment of the episode, though, comes when Linden sighs, “If one more person asked me if I’m all right, I swear…” And Holder looks up from his food and asks, “Are you all right?” Linden admits that sitting in that car, only able to see Mike’s eyes, she put herself in the shoes of those teenage victims. And as Holder talks of his own demons — worrying about disappointing his sister and his nephew — Linden offers that, “Maybe it’s you who needs to let go of the past.” The opposite, though, could also be true, and thus Holder picks up the gory Seward file that’s been on Linden’s kitchen table for weeks, and takes it back to his place. You never know what a fresh pair of eyes could find. Let’s just hope they find that something before Seward hangs — or another girl is murdered.
What did you think of The Killing’s latest hour? What burning questions will keep you up tonight? Sound off below!