Linden's abduction brings several truths to the fore, Seward begins to panic, Bullet gets a lead on the Piper
The blade of Not Pastor Mike’s knife was still tickling Linden’s throat as we rejoined her this week. Despite his professed innocence, NPM sure knew a thing or two about stripping a cop of her necessities; he swiftly procured Linden’s gun and asked if she had a radio (she said she didn’t) before he told Linden vaguely to start driving. Props to the episode’s director/cinematographer/writer, who placed PM in the backseat and focused in on Linden’s eyes; it was she who was taking his confession (or his plea of innocence, as it were). Given how much attention has been paid to the Piper’s backseat M.O., NPM was effectively positioned as the victim in this set-up — an interesting reversal and a telling spatial dynamic. Of course, that isn’t to say NPM wasn’t still ultra-creepy. Actor Ben Cotton really has that blood-chilling whisper down — especially when he called out Linden for trying to humanize herself in his eyes by telling him details about her turbulent childhood in foster care; he even dissociated himself from the situation when he said he knew she was using a tactic to discourage “the abductor from killing you.” He added, “It won’t work.”
Elsewhere, Holder was pissed that his partner wasn’t answering her phone calls when Bullet arrived and claimed Lyric had left a message that NPM was taking her to the woods to kill her like he’d killed all those other girls. Knowing what we know, it was fairly obvious that either Bullet was lying to get Holder’s attention or that, if there was a message at all, Lyric was making assumptions and inferences purely driven by fear — and that those assumptions would lead to an incredible amount of wasted SPD manpower. Alas, Holder didn’t know that PM was actually with Holder singing the entire score of the H.M.S. Pinafore, so he ran with Bullet’s red herring and convinced Skinner to assign officers to scour the woods.
Predictably, that wild goose chase nothing tangible, but Holder did get an important break when one of the officers on the radio mentioned that someone was “camped out” on an open channel. That someone was Linden, the lying minx! Holder & Co. quickly ascertained she was still in the city and beginning listening to the patchy transmission from Linden’s dying radio (because of course the battery was dying while this all went down).
During the conversation, Linden dropped hints about her location (they were near a lifted drawbridge, one of two in the city), and Not Pastor Mike voluntarily brought up the girl he’d supposedly abducted in Tempe. She was a “junkie whore” (his words), and his attempt to detox her had gone bad. Throughout, he continued to make wildly suspicious statements like, “They’re human garbage, these kids. No one cares. No one goes looking for them.” Linden replied matter-of-factly, “You do.”
Other details surfaced: Linden spoke heart-wrenchingly about how being a cop, like being a Pastor of Misfits, was a purgatorial job marked by constant second-guessing and a pervasive sense of failure. She shared how she’d lost Jack not just in a custody battle but because she’d basically given up on herself as a mother. She recalled how he used to hide under the blankets in her bed, just waiting for her to come “find” him. Mike noted, “Sometimes the ones who hide are the ones who want to be found the most.”
At this point, Linden and NPM were in an abandoned building where he had often gone to find those very people — the street kids hunkering down to ride out the storm of their lives. Instructing Linden to turn off the car, NPM was holding the gun ominously — though it seemed more like he was waiting for the right moment to kill himself instead of her. By his own admission, Linden and Holder’s investigation would cost him everything. If he ran, where would he run? And how would start over yet again? And so he began to cry: “I don’t want to be here.”
NPM asked Linden to take him to the waterfront. As morning dawned, she noted she’d once found her “good friend” (Holder) walking on the very bridge they were passing. She said it was relevant because it was a time when her friend had lost hope, too. She insisted, though, that there was always a way back, there was always hope. Holder recognized the story, and the cops headed to where Linden awaited them.
NEXT: The truth about Angie
During the drive, NPM admitted he had been the one to take Angie to the vet’s office — this explained the blood in his backseat and, as many of you pointed out, his innocence (if he’d been the Piper, he’d have put plastic down to catch the blood). He was trying to save Angie just like he’d tried to save the girl in Tempe, and he’d lied to the cops because he knew they wouldn’t believe him.
Speaking of lies, as he leaned into the window, he noticed Linden’s radio and told her to stop the car. He took her to the end of a pier, pointed her own gun at her, and told her to get on her knees. She begged and told him, “You don’t have to do this!” And he couldn’t do it. He sunk to his knees and prayed aloud for forgiveness, dropping the gun in the water as the sirens drew closer. When her colleagues arrived, guns cocked, Linden jumped in front of NPM. He wouldn’t remove his hands from his pockets, consciously trying to force the police to pull their triggers since he hadn’t been able to pull his. But Linden cautioned, “If you make these men shoot you, they’ll carry it all of their lives.” Beset by guilt, resignation, and exhaustion, NPM removed his hands slowly from his pockets and ended Linden’s most life-affirming yet soul-crushing night yet. She, too, dropped to her knees as Holder comforted her.
With more than half the episode elapsed, we finally checked in with Seward. He’d scheduled a desperate meeting with his lawyer to see if Linden could stall his execution. His lawyer rightly, if callously, pointed out that Linden must not have any indemnifying evidence if she hadn’t presented it yet. As Seward urged him to check again, the lawyer went over Seward’s burial options. And that’s all the end of life turns out to be — a series of mind-numbingly mundane tasks that bely the hugeness of death. It’s fascinating in context really. While all we hear about the Piper’s killings are methods and motives, which effectively render his horrific crimes against innocent girls distant and clinical, we are actually experiencing it with the supposedly guilty Seward as he undergoes a similarly clinical ticking off of boxes (his weigh-in, his final meal, his burial wishes, etc.) and are forced to identify with him, to understand that death is not something to be catalogued, written off, or forgotten. Any death a big deal. Too much for one person’s psyche to bear — which is why Seward had a panic attack. And, in another interesting turn of events, Becker was the one who displayed rare kindness by talking him through it.
Over at the SPD, Skinner confirmed everything we already knew: NPM couldn’t possibly be the Piper — Angie’s was the only blood found in his car, and he was out of the country at the time of the ’09 murders. In somewhat of a silver lining, Lyric was found alive and well… and hustling. Unfortunately for Holder, it meant the trust he’d placed in Bullet had resulted in personal and professional humiliation. He went to read the riot act to Bullet for lying about the voicemail, and Bullet screamed back that Holder wouldn’t otherwise have done anything to find Lyric — just like he hadn’t done anything to find Kallie. At that slander, Holder went nuclear and brought out a below-the-belt threat to “bury” Bullet in the foster system. He concluded acidly, “That’s right. I’m not your friend. … You’re just a nobody, nothin’, punk-ass kid.” Ouch, Bugs!
And the hits just kept coming for Bullet as Lyric dumped her with three swift blows: “I don’t belong to you. I’m with Twitch. I’m not gay.” Bullet sought to numb the sting with heroin. But it was a fortuitous fall because the dealer (Poochie!) dropped a tip about seeing Angie just a few hours before. Bullet tracked down Angie at the bus station. She feared for her life and was getting the hell outta Dodge. Bullet offered her one more fix of heroin in exchange for information about the Piper.
NEXT: The most important phone calls of Seward and Bullet’s lives
Vashon. Holder brought Linden Chinese takeout and asked if she was okay. He admitted that the night before had been incredibly scary, saying, “Thought I lost you there for a second — just when I was getting used to you.” Linden dropped her defenses, choking up as she admitted she’d been able to see only NPM’s eyes and that it had forced her to relate to the Piper’s victims. Holder apologized he hadn’t gotten there sooner, but she told he had gotten there, which was all that mattered. He glanced over, saw that she had Seward’s case file open, and asked, “You go over that thing every night or what?” She said grimly, “They’re going to kill him in two days.”
Back at the prison, Henderson found Becker’s wife worrying about how her husband hadn’t been home for some time. Stoking viewers’ already strong suspicions, she confirmed that Becker would go missing for days at a time and, when he did come home, he displayed a particularly cruel level of misogyny and shadiness. She asked Henderson to sit and talk with her, but he took one look at Becker’s son and refused.
As Linden and Holder pored over Seward’s case file, the pictures of Seward and Adrian reminded Holder of his nephew Davy, who’d been abandoned by his own father almost immediately after being born. Holder had stepped in as a father figure, only to betray the boy by stealing money for drugs. It was a mistake he didn’t feel he could ever truly make right. Linden advised, “Maybe it’s time for you to let go of the past.” Holder: “That makes two of us, huh?”
Holder’s phone rang. Seeing Bullet’s name on the caller ID, he didn’t answer, but we saw the kid sitting in a diner and leaving a message saying she knew the identity of the Piper. Back at Linden’s, Holder broke the tension by joking that he was ripe from several days without a shower. He proposed they get some rest and go back to Mills’ videos in the morning after some sleep. In the meanwhile, he’d take Seward’s case file and look over it with fresh eyes.
Another important phone call ended the night: Seward promised to get Linden access to Adrian if she could buy him some time.
But it appeared that Bullet might be the one who needs more time. As she tried in vain to reach Holder, a driver (framed in the same way as the Piper has been throughout the season) pulled up and began to watch her.
Well that was just a damn amazing hour of television, my friends. I would argue it was the finest installment The Killing has ever produced and perhaps one of the best TV episodes that will air this entire year. (Or am I overestimating it?) So much happened! Even amid the taut dialogue and tense pacing, we learned more about Linden and the bleak reality of police work than we have over the course two and a half seasons. Fresh off the partners’ fight, Holder and Linden suddenly had more reason than ever to rely on each other and truth in each other. And Mireille Enos — who has, in my opinion, frequently been shackled by Linden’s glum understatement as a character — got a rare chance to prove exactly why she’s been recognized by the awards shows and critics. Though I obviously hope that changes come 2014 (this year’s episodes aren’t eligible for Thursday’s Emmy nominations, alas).
Were you likewise impressed? We only have four episodes to go, so things are about to get real. Do you think Linden can save Seward? Can she save herself? Will Holder finally pick up Bullet’s calls, or is the mouthy urchin done for? Are you convinced that Becker is the Piper, or do you still have eyes on others (Skinner, Reddick)? Discuss.