The Killing season finale recap: 'The Killing' season 3 finale recap
Another body turns up, unlocking the key to the Piper's identity and forcing Linden to make a life-changing decision
It was evening in Seattle, and Linden was quite literally running from her grief over Seward’s death when Skinner came to check in on her. Or to fall back on her companionship since his wife had told him to take a hike. He saw that Linden was still poring over Seward’s case file, and they commiserated over their secretive, haunted existences. With nothing stopping them (not dignity or self-control or a sense of appropriateness) and a desperate loneliness engulfing them, they came together for a kiss that would lead to more and would most certainly put the nail in the coffin on Skinner’s marriage.
The next morning, Linden clung to an utterly misplaced sense of hope that she and Skinner could “be different” as Bullet’s funeral got underway. Holder, Ms. Leeds, and Lyric were the only attendees other than Bullet’s parents, who’d chosen a girlish picture of their daughter — one that, Holder bitterly laughed, Bullet herself would have hated. Holder and Ms. Leeds commiserated over how Bullet tried to protect Kallie but, in the end, couldn’t even protect herself.
Holder remained stoic, but the emotional upheaval of the past day sent him to Caroline to make it right and apologize for how he’d lashed out at her after Bullet’s murder. She gave him a genuine hug, an embrace of sympathy, reconnection, and acceptance; he leaned in and looked like he was going to shatter any second. Then his phone rang. Ignoring it, he admitted he should have come clean to Caroline about his past. He called him a step down for her and acknowledged that he’d been afraid to show her all of him and not just “the good stuff.” She assured him it was all the good stuff. His phone rang again, and she pragmatically told him to answer it. He was called away, but she told him she’d see him later. Holder was adorable yet heartbreaking in his shock that she’d give him another chance. She was magnanimous about his freakout, calling it their first fight. She added sweetly, “For what it’s worth, you’re a half step up for me.” That’s when the Holder swag came back. He smiled mischievously, smirking, “You must have been hanging out with some real losers before me.” She deadpanned, “Lawyers.” Holder leaned in for a kiss before he left, and he was so excited Caroline practically had to push him off. After last week’s bleak hour, this scene was like a narrative sigh of relief — a very necessary, truly spirit-lifting moment.
NEXT: What becomes of the B-team
But Holder and Caroline’s reconciliation was indeed only a moment. Next, we returned to the prison where Henderson was cleaning out Seward’s cell. Back in the work room, Becker was clearing his locker. He explained to Henderson that he had too much going on at home and had taken his pension early. He advised Becker not to get too comfortable on the job and become “just as much a prisoner as the rest of them,” then he wished the newbie good luck. As parting words go, it was no Salisbury steak, but we can’t all be Ray Seward, can we?
Out in the field, Holder met up with Linden at a new crime scene involving a body in the back seat of a burnt-out car. Despite the charred corpse before them, they shared playful banter about Holder’s new “thingy” (a.k.a. hoodie) and how he’d even taken a shower — “got to keep it fresh.” They reaffirmed their partnership, and Linden issued a call to action: “Let’s do some work.”
Speaking of getting cleaned up, Lyric was looking light years more beautiful and healthier — even in head-to-toe polyester (including a visor) — at her new fast food job. Ms. Leeds stopped by, and they had a conversation at once mundane and tender. Ms. Leeds recalled being Lyric’s age and gently warned the teen to keep girls around, not just boyfriends. She also offered to do Lyric’s hair sometime. In turn, Lyric mentioned Kallie had talked about her mother’s job styling hair a few times, giving Ms. Leeds a chance to smile for probably the first time in years. Sure, it all seemed mere small talk, but their words were layered with emotion. It seemed like the exchange was an important step in moving forward for both of them. Though, a bit later, Ms. Leeds stood on the very same bridge where we first met Kallie. She foolishly mistook another teen girl for her daughter and had to force herself to breathe through a panic attack. Elsewhere, was walking home from work when a john stopped next to her and rolled down his window, she gave him a flirtatious smile.
Also having a hard time adjusting to existence off the streets, Twitch was struggling over a bowl full of broken egg shells back at Lyric’s fancy new subsidized apartment. He went into his pocket to retrieve his cigarette lighter and found the dope Bullet had traded him for information on the night she was murdered. In the end, he chose not to use the drugs, sending them fluttering off into the wind as he sat on a roof high above the city. While it’s clear Lyric and Ms. Leeds still have a long way to go, perhaps our little Twit is growing up.
NEXT: Case closed? Not so fast!
Meanwhile, Holder and Linden returned to the SPD. Holder stopped by Reddick’s office to close the chapter on their partnership and apologize for attacking the old-timer. Reddick was characteristically prickly, though he did Holder a solid by opting not to report the assault to their superiors. Down the hall, Skinner teased Linden about how she used to hum the same tune for days when they were partners, then he admitted he missed it. He invited her to join him at his lake house that weekend. She half-heartedly said she had a new case, and he set about convincing her to pass the case to someone else. Skinner was gaining ground when Holder interrupted with news on the body. He lingered awkwardly until Linden left. On the way to the medical examiner’s office, Holder jovially grilled her about the relationship, then gave his blessing: “Do your thing 1-900!” Man, I love Holder so much.
At the M.E.’s office, Linden and Holder learned that their vic was a female who had been shot, execution-style with a .45, and whose teeth had been removed postmortem. Most importantly, though, she was missing her ring finger, which had been sawed off about two weeks ago. Suddenly this “new” case was fitting the Piper’s profile, and everything they thought they knew about the supposedly closed case was called into question — even as Mills was being arraigned for the murders.
The detectives sat in the car, turning over this new information. Could this body be Angie Gowers’? Were the rings planted in Mills’ storage unit by another cop? Holder was incredibly quick to jump to the latter conclusion since Mills status as prime suspect hadn’t been released publicly. Everything had wrapped up a little too tidily, he now realized. Linden was wary of disturbing a closed case. She was even warier of what calling their findings into question would do to Skinner’s career. She pointed to Mills’ involvement in the porn films, saying he was not innocent. Holder countered, “But that doesn’t make him a killer. What do you want to do, let the state hang another guy who didn’t do it?” Ouch. Linden remained silent, smoking and weighing the terrible options.
NEXT: Linden and Holder go back to the beginning
Linden and Holder returned to the SPD, where their colleagues were packing up the stacks of boxes on the case. While Holder smuggled out what files he could, Linden eyed everyone around her suspiciously, lingering on Reddick (who looked especially smarmy in that moment), and guiltily eyeing Skinner. Holder returned, and they headed out for a drive. With most of the files at the D.A., and since Linden was unwilling to raise any red flags before they were absolutely certain a cop was involved, the partners were short on information. Holder now understood that the Piper’s habit of forcing his victims into the backseat might not have been mimicking a priest taking confession so much as a policeman putting a perp in the back of the car.
The partners went to the home of the Piper’s first victim, Brigitte Delahanty. Lo and behold, whose picture was in the Delahanty home? Carl Reddick. He’d been Brigitte’s neighbor and gotten her into the SPD’s Junior Officers program. He moved away after Brigitte disappeared and had returned to his old neighbors’ home to deliver the news that Brigitte’s body had been identified.
Walking to the car, Holder noted that Reddick never mentioned having any connection to any of the Piper’s victims. What’s more, Reddick was the one who took Bullet’s message the night she died. As he spun the circumstantial clues around in his head, Linden noticed a nearby tree house, which triggered her memory — before his execution, Seward mentioned how he’d built a tree house for Adrian… but there were no trees in his housing complex; the nearest trees, in fact, were in the park where the bodies had been discovered. So, the reason Trisha Seward didn’t fit the Piper’s profile was because he hadn’t gone after her at all — he’d been looking for Adrian. And why? After tromping through the woods a mile away from the old Seward apartment, the detectives found Adrian’s tree house and noticed it had a direct view of the pond where the Piper had dumped the bodies.
This revelation sunk in as Adrian walked home from school, tailed by an unmarked police car. The grey sedan circled the boy like a shark, finally pulling directly in front of him. Adrian stopped dribbling his soccer ball as he beheld the threatening (and unidentifiable) silhouette leering at him from inside the cruiser.
NEXT: Holder gets sidelined
About an hour and a half later, Linden and Holder — along with Adrian’s panicked foster mother — realized the boy had been taken. The partners now had no choice but to bring Skinner up to speed on their suspicions about Reddick. Holder wanted to find Reddick and talk to him, but Skinner insisted on handling it, adding that they should keep these latest developments between the three of them. After questioning a neighbor who’d driven Adrian home after he told her someone was following him, the partners ordered traffic cam footage requisitioned and headed back into the station. Before they could even get inside to follow up on Holder’s hunch about Reddick’s whereabouts, a couple of suits from Internal Affairs popped up under urgent orders to investigate Holder.
Linden was inside, leaving frantic messages for Skinner, when a cop arrived with the traffic cam stills. Indeed, a gray Crown Vic had been trailing behind Adrian. Linden told the cop that Skinner was looking for Reddick, and the cop found that strange since Skinner had been at the precinct shortly before and was “in a hurry to get out.”
Meanwhile, the IA goons told Holder he’d been accused of leaving threatening voicemails for Reddick and fixating on Reddick’s teen daughter; they’d also conveniently gotten wind of Holder’s assault on Reddick. Holder stopped laughing when he realized they were being completely serious. He handed over his phone (saltily telling the IA officer not to mind the “pictures of me banging your mama”), then sharply suggested the officers bring in Reddick for investigation, too.
NEXT: Linden goes knockin’ on the wrong door
Since Skinner wasn’t answering Linden’s calls, she headed directly to his house. He led with insults about her reckless police work before leaning into her seductively, making her think she’d convinced him to call IA off Holder. They were heading downstairs when Skinner’s wife and daughter Bethany walked in the door. Skinner had just had a guilt-riddled heart-to-heart with his daughter about Sarah and the separation, so Bethany was completely shattered to see her father leaving. As they hugged goodbye, Linden noticed a ring on the teen’s hand. And not just a ring as much as the ring — Kallie’s ring. It’s incredibly difficult for me to believe Skinner would be that f—ng stupid after years as a meticulous murderer, but we only have 45 minutes left to wrap this mess up, so why not?
Skinner led the way during a slow-mo perp walk as Sarah “I Have No Poker Face” Linden, left the house with the man she thought could turn her life around, the man who’d lied to her face for years, the man who had murdered 21 times (that Linden & Co. knew about). The minute Skinner turned around, he could see the realization on Linden’s face. She did the only thing she could and Clarice-Starling-pulled that gun on him in the middle of suburbia. Unfortunately, Skinner didn’t have quite the flamboyant flourish of Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb and, instead of nancing away, calmly told Linden, “You want to see him alive, you’ll come with me.” Linden confiscated Skinner’s weapon and began to arrest him, but he was bent on using the only chip he had left. So Linden once again gave herself over to evil in order to protect the innocent.
Around the same time, Holder became aware that Skinner (not Reddick) had filed the complaint against him (and, what’s more, immediately after Holder and Linden had revealed their suspicions that a cop had killed Angie). Holder intuitively put together the pieces and realized Linden was in danger. Only, he couldn’t get out of the locked IA office. So he improvised, putting on his best crazy-slash-repentant face and telling them he’d set up a bomb in Reddick’s car that would blow in 35 minutes… or sooner if Alvarez hit the wrong button on his phone. (Ha!) Within minutes, Reddick came storming in screaming for Holder. He hadn’t taken kindly to the bomb squad descending on his family’s bowling night. When the IA investigator told him about Holder’s claims, Reddick countered awesomely, “Holder’s an idiot, he’s not Al-Qaeda!” (Double ha!) While Holder giggled devilishly inside the IA office, Reddick unleashed a slew of offensive interjections on the officer (including the phrases “sit on your face” and “pull that tampon out of your ass”) that succeeded in getting his ex-partner sprung from police officer detention. After Reddick gave Holder a swift knuckle in the kisser, Holder told Reddick about Adrian’s abduction and ordered his ex-partner to find the kid while Holder went out to find “the son of a bitch who set me up.”
NEXT: Skinner’s confession
That very son of a bitch was driving Linden to a.) Adrian, b.) her death, or c.) both. (All of which, Holder soon ascertained, were at Skinner’s lake house.) In the car, Skinner basically blamed Linden for everything that had gone wrong in his life. Why had she taken on the case that morning? Why had she left him feeling all alone three years before? Why hadn’t she allowed him to
be greatchange for her? While she pondered these (bulls—) questions, he told her the story of how he became a serial killer. Apparently the first girl, Brigitte, had been an accident. After her time in the Junior Officers, he’d found her strung out on the street; he’d put her in the back of the car, she’d spat at him, and he’d hit her almost as a reflex. He knew in that moment she would tell on him and destroy his career, so he did what he had to do. The entire account was simultaneously chilling and infuriating. He confessed to Linden that he eventually came to see himself as sort of savior — a moral custodian cleaning up human garbage — who was “sav[ing] them from the inevitability of their lives.” Linden could only gasp, “You’re a monster.” And Skinner was too tired to deny it. He responded, “Maybe… maybe.”
A few minutes later, as Holder and Reddick continued to work together over the phone to find Adrian, Linden and Skinner both had their fighting spirit back. He insisted he hadn’t gone to Seward’s apartment three years ago to kill Adrian, just to question him. Once the boy didn’t recognize him, Skinner said he knew he was free. Therefore, all this was Linden’s fault (there he goes again!) for forcing the child to remember. It’s amazing the mental gymnastics he had done over the last three years, convincing himself that the 12-year-old girls he’d killed weren’t children, that his inability to kill Adrian meant that he had something like standards, and that Linden had some accountability in all this for (supposedly) subconsciously seeing the monster inside him and still loving him.
By the time Skinner was telling Sarah she’d ended up in the mental ward because she loved him in spite of sensing something was wrong, she’d had enough. She began to punch him furiously, nearly causing a head-on collision with a passing car. Skinner swerved and stopped on the side of the road. Linden ran out to vomit. Skinner offered her a tissue, but it was an act of kindness she couldn’t accept. She crumbled to the ground sobbing before pulling herself together enough to weakly ask once more, “Where is he?” Skinner replied, “Not far.” And so she got back in the car once more.
NEXT: The final showdown
As they approached the lake house, Skinner told Linden, “I wish you’d seen it in the daytime. The water’s beautiful — cold and deep.” Linden wanted to snap him out of his delusional little travelogue and force him to take ownership for his actions. She asked if he’d taken Kallie to the lake house, pointing out that he’d given her ring to his daughter and referring to specific attributes of Kallie that might humanize her in Skinner’s eyes. But he simply glazed over, as if it had nothing to do with him. He did admit that there were more girls’ bodies scattered here and there, saying, “No one will ever find them.” Linden genuinely wept for those girls: “It’s the loneliest thing in the world waiting to be found.”
Lest we forget, Adrian has been waiting to be found this entire time. If only Linden had thought to look in the trunk! Then again, if Linden had even considered the impossibility of Skinner driving all the way to and from this remote lake house in the 90 minutes or so before he was called to the scene of the abduction, she could have saved them both a lot of gas money. It’s simple math, really. Then again, her head wasn’t at its absolute clearest amid all this…
Interestingly, Reddick’s head was clear. Thanks to a note in Adrian’s backpack about wanting “to be with [his] mom,” Reddick realized Adrian had gone to Trisha’s grave. So, Skinner’s “confession” that Adrian was dead in his trunk was actually a fake-out designed to push Linden to a breaking point. It was the move of a coward — Skinner wasn’t strong enough to stop himself, so he passed the buck to someone he “loved,” forcing her into a life-changing, soul-shattering decision. Holder, who’d arrived at the cabin shortly before them, heard a gun shot and ran over. As Skinner covered the wound in his chest, Holder told Linden Reddick had found Adrian, that she would be playing into Skinner’s games by finishing him off. But Skinner was doing everything he could to keep Linden in his thrall. He looked in her eyes pleadingly and told her, “It’s got to be you, Sarah. You loved me. You love me. You love me.” Even with Holder begging her to put down the gun, Linden fired one last shot into Skinner’s head. Skinner dropped, and Holder looked on, shocked. One word fell out of his mouth over and over again: “No, no, no…!” Linden looked into the distance coldly. And that was it. After all that grief over the killing innocents, Linden had forfeited her own innocence to bring the guilty to justice. Holy hell.
Did you see that coming, Killing fans? Or Reddick’s sudden burst of 11th-hour awesomeness? Was the scene between Holder and Caroline the best? Did you feel like all the B plots got short shrift? And were you satisfied by the resolution to this case (if you can call it that)? Sound off in the comments below.