This week’s ‘The Killing” was as good or better than any episode from any season. Connections between the storylines are emerging. Twists sprouted from unexpected places, and though the major case appears to have been solved, Ray’s fate, Kallie’s fate, and the mystery of the unidentified victims’ four rings still remain unanswered.
“Reckoning” seems like a bit of a passive title for an episode so full of action and twists. The Mills vs. Linden showdown took full advantage of AMC’s ability to show basic cable levels of blood & violence. Since “The Killing” often delivers chills, thrills, and shockers via the viewer’s imagination, this scene was incredibly powerful and a bit unnerving. Linden’s personal mission has been to produce not a killer but a connection between the girls’ and Tricia Seward’s murders. And much of her screen time has been dedicated to showing how absorbed she is, how impersonal she can be, and how her obsession and sacrificing of personal and working relationships has distanced her from everyone else, except for Holder who is able to maintain just the tiniest thread of trust and friendship with her.
Cut to Linden vs. Mills and, in contrast to her personal distance from nearly everyone, she is now face to face with the lead suspect, engaged in a bloody ass-kicking. After Holder joins in, Linden takes out, let’s say, ‘a good amount’ of her frustration and hate as she returns the favor and kicks Mills multiple times. Her typically peaceful demeanor framed in a Northwestern ‘wool sweater of the week’ is now shockingly reversed, as she is bloodied and violent, wool sweater and all.
Of course, longtime fans know better to think that this storyline is ready to accept all-tied-up-in-a-bow status. And there are still many unanswered questions elsewhere.
This episode featured many seemingly out-of-nowhere, but in a good way, developments: The guard’s son shooting his mom’s [assumed to be] boyfriend, Holder’s partner Reddick not relaying messages from Bullet to Holder, and Seward’s prisonmate, who was depicted, in contrast to Ray’s lack of belief in salvation or forgiveness, as an archetypical religious calming force, revealing himself to have been scheming all along. He built up Ray’s hope, and maybe even made him a believer in God and salvation, only to laugh at him and tell him that’s he’s been messing with him all along. So he is on death row, it is too late to change the means of execution, he believes Linden has let him down in the effort to save his life, and then at this lowest point, when he appears to have no strength left and fully accepts his prisionmate’s religious ideology, he gets mocked and insulted, and shown that that ideology was just a tactic to screw with him. If you’re keeping score then, Ray Seward has been broken three times.
These out-of-nowhere developments really worked well because of previous scenes in earlier episodes; in an absolute sense they actually came out of somewhere, which is why they are not viewer enraging, WTF moments. Showing too many of these unrelated-at-the-time scenes took a toll on the entertainment value of those earlier episodes, which is something I’ll cover later in a season wrap-up within my review of the finale.
But in this 9th episode, there was tremendous momentum, rapid fire pace, and exciting action scenes. The big action scene, the Linden/Mills/Holder fight, consisted of relevant, classic, plot-centric action. And though usually when I describe this series as ‘gritty’ I am referring to the monochromatic, dark, damp nature of the series, in this episode the grittiness came from the realistic, emotionally loaded & shockingly bloody fight sequence.
The last scene to mention this week is the overwhelmingly dramatic scene between Holder and Linden; it was horrible in the sense that watching Linden’s efforts to comfort Holder, and watching Holder’s will and hope implode before us on screen created such a strong sense of unpleasantness that ‘cringe-worthy’ would not do it justice. The scene was truly filled with horror, from Linden’s inability to even touch Holder to Holder’s misguided, last-ditch effort to kiss Linden. All Linden could do was to state ‘It’ll be ok’ over and over again.
This episode was PACKED – continued great performances from the guard Hugh Dillon and Kallie’s mother Amy Seimetz, the dramatic interview in the big school gymnasium with Ray’s son Aiden, of course another hugely unnerving and suspenseful scene where Holder opens up the trunk of the car, and ANOTHER disturbing and violent scene where Holder rushes into Reddick’s (relatively) perfect domestic life and bloodies Reddick’s face in front of his entire family. How did all this even happen in one episode? “The Killing” is on the comeback trail big time.