The Killing recap: Reckoning (season 3, episode 9)
A dark turn in the case leads Holder down a bad road
When we last left the grayscale world of The Killing, Bullet was at a diner desperately trying to get a hold of Holder, who had had enough of the street urchin’s riff raff for the day. All the while, a mysterious car pulled up outside and observed Bullet in a fashion that freaked the rest of us out. Who was the driver? What did they want? Would Bullet be the next victim?
Those questions were put on the backburner as this week’s episode (directed, it should be noted, by the great Jonathan Demme) began. After a noticeable absence, this hour began with the wonderful Amy Seimetz, whose Danette walks home only the find the door open and the inside trashed. For a moment she thinks it might be Kallie returning home, but, alas. Who should she find inside? None other than her slimey cab-driving pervert ex Joe.
Cut to Linden and Holder, loitering at a grade school and watching Picasso (Adrian) watch them in class. Not for long, though — they rush to Danette’s, who’s the victim of a cut face, stolen money, a jacked car, and missing camping and fishing gear. Because, you know, the weather’s so nice out.
Oh, also he’s got a storage unit which just begs for some investigatin’. Linden and Holder check it out, but it turns out to be more than just a closet: it’s also a makeshift apartment for Joe to crash in. In fact, he’s already in the vicinity, leading to an epic chase that gets Linden beaten up and bloodied. (Between this and her recent joyride with the Pastor, she’s been having a rough stretch.) Holder comes to her rescue, and eventually the rest of the gang arrive to help root around the storage container. And then, boom: a box full of rings, courtesy of Reddick.
“We got him!” Reddick, ever hasty, exclaims. Feeling all celebratory, he’s ready to hit the pub and buy a round for the team, but of course it’s not that simple. It never is. Linden looks in the box and finds… a bullet.
NEXT: As for human Bullet…
And this, sadly, is where we catch up with Bullet. Poor, poor Bullet. She, powered by the fine acting of Bex Taylor-Klaus, has been one of the most compelling characters on TV this summer, played smarty and uncannily realistically by a promising young actress. It’s hard not to recall a Bullet from your own life, even if it’s someone you only know peripherally, or have encountered on the subway. Or, in this case, stuffed in the back of a cab, dead. (But, for what it’s worth, the force with which Linden ran in her valiant effort to shield Holder was one of the more (bitter)sweet elements of the episode.)
So, Bullet’s gone, and Joe’s being held downtown, waiting to be taken through the ringer. The coppers try to plot out the best strategy to get the goods out of him, but of course Linden’s first impulse is to try and connect Joe to the Seward case. (At this point we should mention that we’d momentarily caught up with Seward in his cell earlier, still playing a one-sided game phone-tag with Linden. Becker gave him some lip, but Seward wasn’t in the mood and invoked Mrs. Becker — prompting the guard to go berserk. More on this later.)
Outside the station, Holder is in his car, hiding from the rain and from the pain. His beautiful district-attorney girlfriend, who we also hadn’t seen in a while and who calls our Holder “Stephen,” spots him through the scrum of reporters. She tries to console him but, well, Holder’s not in the mood to be consoled. The gulf between his world and hers finally starts to show, and when she offers up some Law & Order-y coping advice, Holder freaks: “Do you even know what it means?” he shouts to her, referring to his “Serenity” tattoo. “I’m an addict! A tweaker. I shot meth — it’s in my veins every day.” And with that, he tells her to go.
Inside the station, Danette enters Joe’s holding room to try and milk Kallie’s whereabouts out of him. He denies knowing where she is, and in fact denies that he’s responsible for any of this. But he does, in what may be one of the creepiest moments of the season (and that’s saying something), offer us a glimpse into his sick mind. “Those little girls, they came to me,” he says. “They look at me with that ache — that sweet, sweet ache.”
“I was gentle, and I took care of them,” he continues. “And I made it go away.” Shiver. While the rest of us are recoiling in disgust, Danette justifiably lunges over the table, trying to shake Joe into telling her the truth about Kallie. No dice.
All the while, Linden hooks up with Picasso back at the school to go over the particulars of his mother’s grisly death. (Talk about a bad school day.) She offers him a photographic lineup of white guys — Papa Seward and Joey Pervert among them — and asks him which of these guys knifed his mother. Without hesitation, he points to Joe. “Can I see my dad now?” the boy then asks.
NEXT: ‘My words do the killing.’But, of course, things aren’t that simple. They can’t be: There are two episodes left. Linden returns to the station, where Skinner is already roosting to the press that the Piper’s been apprehended for good. Yet when Linden sits down for a small talk with Danette, an inconvenient truth arises: According to Danette, Joe was in Alaska three years ago on the day after Christmas. In other words, much to Linden’s horror, he wasn’t in town on the night of the Seward murder.
This is as good a time as any to check back in with Seward. It’s nighttime on the cell block, with most the prisoners trying to get some shut-eye, but not Seward. Never Seward. “GIVE ME THE PHONE!” he’s spit-shouting on the top of his lungs. He doesn’t get one, however, though he does get a face full of Becker, who mockingly tells Seward that he did get one message: He gets an extra hour of yard time tomorrow, his last day on earth. Yay.
Elsewhere, we find Twitch leading Lyric to a pleasant surprise: a new apartment. Wait, what? Yes, somehow things have turned around for these darn kids, and they’ve finally managed to find a home for themselves. It’s a nice moment, especially for Lyric, but underneath the happiness is the painful realization that Bullet would never be able to see it.
That reality is also weighing on Holder, who’s holed up in his apartment with the blinds drawn. Linden shows up to bum a cigarette, and the two talk over the events up to now. Linden plots to use Picasso’s testimony to get Seward a stay. Holder’s still got Bullet on his mind though, and it starts to break him. “I should’ve picked up,” he says, almost to no one. “I should’ve called back.” Linden does her best to talk him down — “It’s not your fault” — and it seems to work. A little too well: In a transference of emotions, he goes in to kiss her. Linden slyly averts his awkward come-on, Holder apologizes, and tears start flooding from his eyes. Powerful stuff.
Speaking of powerful stuff, we catch back up wiith Seward, who’s taking advantage of his outside time. In a scene that echoes the one before it, Seward’s religious cellblock friend tries his best to talk down the anguished man before him. It seems to work — he gets Seward worked up in an emotional fervor, cowering on his knees and seemingly giving himself up to God… until he realizes it’s all been a bait and switch. The man’s just been f—ing with Seward; it was all baloney, the Christian comforts. “Outside, I use my hands,” he tells Seward. “In here? My words do the killing for me. I’ve been killing you since the day we met.” It’s a sick moment, and at this point, we’re straight up empathizing with Seward.
Another man we might start empathizing with? Becker. In a quick, chaotic scene in which his panicked wife calls Gabe — because, of course, she couldn’t reach her husband on the phone — we’re soon taken to the Becker residence, where, it seems, his son shot a man who was visiting his wife. That should throw a sizable wrench in things, though it’s tough to say where all this fits in so far.
But that’s not the night’s only wrench: Holder finds out that Reddick had received calls from Bullet but never took the time to let Holder know because he figured it was just “another wild goose chase.” Needless to say, Holder doesn’t take this news lightly. He flies into a rage and shows up at Reddick’s door, beating him down in front of his family.
Back at the station, Linden and Skinner have a heart to heart. “You do great work, Sarah,” he tells her. “For whatever it’s worth, I think you should stay on. This is where you belong.” Those words reverberate for a while as she looks over the corkboard of all the victims.
So, a lot of things to mull over. Joe: is he our guy, the Piper? And/or is he the somehow still the real culprit in the Seward case? Will Seward worm his way out of his execution? Who did Becker’s son shoot? Something horribly bad will happen in Twich and Lyric’s new home, right? How much will we all miss Bullet? And will anyone ever pick up their phone?