The Killing recap: 'The Good Soldier"
Daddy issues abound as Linden forces Kyle to relive the night of the crime, Holder becomes overwhelmed by the prospect of fatherhood, and Bethany Skinner receives an unexpected communication.
One of the most effective parts of the Linden-Holder relationship is how they check each other. On the face of it, they are both incredibly selfish people with personal moral codes at cross-purposes. But, as “The Good Soldier” showed, there’s a complementary facet to their partnership. Just as one is about to fall into the abyss—as they each have been in more situations than really should be acceptable for law enforcement officers—the other regains composure and finds the strength to reel in his or her partner. Linden begins the episode at a breaking point, but she’s forced to pull it together by the end when Holder plummets toward rock bottom. In a strange way, Linden and Holder are one of the most functional dysfunctional partnerships on TV right now. All that and they have their own 1-900 numbers.
The episode begins with Linden quite nearly losing her mind—and everything along with it—when she is still staking out (or, let’s be honest, stalking) Bethany Skinner the next morning. In a haunting mirror of how Skinner himself followed Adrian in last season’s finale, Linden tails Bethany on her bike. Only Linden is gunning it, seemingly ready to plow down the teen and double her body count. Through sheer fortune or stupidity, Linden nearly gets T-boned in an intersection when she runs a stop sign. Bethany rides off with her earbuds plugged in, none the wiser. Linden is not a multiple murderer. Everybody wins?
When she meets with Holder a bit later, Linden is starting to get a handle on how far she’s sunk, and it’s scaring the hell out of her. Each potential slip-up (the missing shell casing, forgetting to check Skinner’s LoJack, knowing Kallie’s ring is still out there) is like a weight around her ankles, and Linden admits she’s “drowning.” For pathetic fallacy emphasis, it’s a delightfully torrential Seattle day outside. When Linden suggests they turn themselves in, Holder realizes he needs to take a step beyond playing it cool. He reveals Caroline’s pregnancy as a means of how much he has to lose. It’s a compelling argument, and so Linden heeds Holder’s command to “move on… and eat [her] f—in’ muffin.”
They attend the Stansburys’ funeral service, hoping in vain that Kat might be there. She’s not, but they manage to shake up Kyle enough so that he gives a fumbling, three-sentence eulogy that’s primarily about Nadine before it abruptly ends, “I guess some people think I did it.” He immediately regrets it, but Rayne comforts him because, as ever, she is way more invested than is appropriate.
After learning about Kat’s visit from Knopf, Rayne decides to call on Linden so she’ll do the dirty work of getting rid of the little street harlot. After Rayne insults the state of Linden’s office, the ladies have a conversation in which Rayne basically says women are the worst, and Linden’s like, “I wouldn’t know; I don’t do small talk… you’re not gone yet?”
NEXT: Linda Stansbury gets a Lifetime movie-worthy backstory
Meanwhile, Reddick pays a visit to the Skinner residence, where Skinner’s wife informs him about the family lake house, saying “the greasy one with the chin hair” (ha!) was asking about it a few nights back. Reddick heads to the lake before grilling Holder; his first mention of the lake house causes Holder particular alarm, but he maintains his particular brand of nonchalant sass. He also keeps their conversation close to the vest with Linden as they follow Rayne’s lead to locate and interrogate Kat.
During Kat’s interrogation, we get more insight into Philip Stansbury’s strict regime. Kat believes he brought her to his home as a “social experiment” in rehabilitation, but it ended in violence when Kyle stood up for Kat, and Philip punched his own son. She sheds light on the other family members’ reactions: Linda was a Mary Kay Letourneau-style cougar, and Phoebe… well, we already know about her “special” relationship with Emmett Deschler. She concludes, “That motherf—er being dead is the best thing that ever happened to Kyle. Trust me.” And, though she admits to staying in the beach house the night of the murders, Kat follows the Deschler model of mystery storytelling in which such obvious, plainly stated animosity means she couldn’t possibly have been involved in any real way.
At St. George’s, Fielding talks trash about Rayne to Kyle (rumor has it she was dishonorably discharged from the Army, so stay tuned for details on that in further recaps) before tone-deafly handing a rifle to the guy suspected of shooting his entire family. But Kyle doesn’t get a chance to shoot it because Linden picks him up and drives him back to the Stansbury home/crime scene to force him to relive the night of the murders in hopes of jogging his memory. She mostly manages to make him physically ill. Viewing the pool of blood where 6-year-old Nadine died is particularly hard for him: “She was the only one who loved me. She was the only one who cared about me in this whole f—ing family.”
Quickly containing his sobs, Kyle continues grimly (and perhaps a little too easily in past tense?), “There was no music in this house. There was no talking. … This was a house of silence—no one told the truth about anything.” And, for a moment, Kyle is on the cusp of confessing. He truly hated his father, hated him enough to kill him. But Nadine? “No. Never.” This incredibly unorthodox interrogation continues as Kyle gazes at a collection of soldier figurines his father had given him every year as a birthday present, and yet Kyle was forbade touch them. When Linden asks Kyle about a rumor about his mother’s dismissal from her teaching job, he silently knocks over the figurines and walks away.
Magic bullet status update: Linden still hasn’t found the missing second shell casing, but she does now have a tidier house, several loads of clean laundry, and what sounded like 45 cents from the pocket of a pair of jeans. During this period of tremendous productivity, she also heard a knock on the door and found her son, Jack, on the other side because, yes, he is a character who still exists!
NEXT: Holder spirals
Holder isn’t faring quite as well as Linden. Reddick’s quizzing shook him up to the point he couldn’t muster any genuine excitement about finding out his baby’s birthday (Oct. 10, making him or her a diplomatic and non-confrontational Libra). He’d also forgotten to buy cupcakes for what Caroline called a “big deal” dinner with his once-estranged sister Liz and her two kids. The next night, the “big deal” turns into a massive bust when Holder throws his recovery to the wind by taking back several beers. As he becomes increasingly quick-tempered with his nephew, not to mention ever crueler with his sister (who, to her own discredit, escalated the conflict by snarking that the idea of Holder as a father was “scary”), Caroline sees a side of Holder that makes her incredibly uncomfortable.
The deathblow to Holder’s tenuous sobriety comes when Reddick calls in Holder and Linden to an ambush meeting with Bethany Skinner, who says she’s received a text from her father. Holder quickly figures out Linden sent it, which means she kept Skinner’s phone. All their talk of “no secrets” and being on the same page is just that: talk. They immediately start calling each other crazy, and… well… they’re both right. Feeling the pressure of Reddick’s scrutiny coming down on him, Holder scores drugs and goes full-tilt into self-sabotage mode, presumably because he would rather destroy his own life and be alone for the real fallout than expose Caroline or his family to the real “big deal”—his professional downfall. It’s an incredibly selfish and self-sacrificing gesture all at once.
Holder tries to right his lapse by going to NA, but somewhere around the time he’s declaring, “F— God” and telling the other addicts to f— themselves, this group-share is clearly counterproductive. His confession about having “a body on his grill” also exposes him to Reddick’s junkie informant.
Before Holder’s spiral, he and Linden had visited Linda Stansbury’s high school and confirmed that she was ousted for an affair with one of her tennis players. The student eventually brought a loaded gun to school. When the records come in ID-ing the student, it turns out to be Lincoln Knopf.
Speaking of inappropriate relationships, Rayne invites Kyle to her house for dinner. During the dessert course, he treats her to an impromptu piano performance, and she confesses her passion for ballroom dancing. She admits she, too, had an exacting father, and he regales her with stories of his little sister’s hours-long night terrors. She shoves a piece of cake in her mouth, and I can only assume it’s the sober version of taking a swig of wine. When asked about her counsel at the cemetery, Rayne says she also grieves a loss every day, but that the military lifestyle will help Kyle discover meaning in his life. But what meaning will Fielding, who’s spying from a distance, find in Kyle’s late-night exit from Rayne’s house?
The next day, Linden is under a watchful eye herself. She heads to Skinner’s lake house and takes one last look at the pictures on her ex-lover’s phone—shots of the two of them smiling so blissfully that, if you’ve seen even a single minute of this show, seem absolutely unlikely to the point of absurd (seriously, Linden makes grimacing an art form). She tosses the phone into the lake, unaware that Skinner’s wife has also decided to hit up the cabin for some fresh air and the view. And man oh man, did she get an eyeful.