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The Killing: “Eminent Domain”

Illustration for article titled iThe Killing/i: “Eminent Domain”
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Laine MacNeil plays Angie Gower, the girl Linden and Holder rescued in last week’s episode. She’s very effective in her big scene here, in which the cops interview her while she lies in her hospital bed, trying to focus on their words but also mesmerized by the blank space where she used to have a finger. “He got the left one,” she says to Holder when he’s done with his questions. “If someone wants to marry me, do you think it matters?” Holder is appropriately shaken by this. Then, while he’s in the hospital corridor, just inches from her door, Riddick arrives and asks Holder if he got anything usable out of “four-fifths of a hand job.” And Holder cracks up, almost doubles over laughing. It says something about The Killing’s ability to draw you into its heroes’ exhausted, frazzled state of mind that these seemingly contradictory reactions seem to add up to a picture of well-balanced mental health.

In the 1987 movie Weeds, Nick Nolte plays a prison lifer who becomes a playwright, gets paroled, and goes on the road with his touring company, which is mostly composed of fellow career criminals trying to change their lives. Whenever the pressure gets to one of them and he starts thinking about doing something that might land him in the jug, Nolte bellows, “Don’t regress!” Holder is regressing like a son of a bitch. His respectable-murder police suits hang in the closet, where a family of raccoons might as well be nesting in them while waiting for spring. His homeless-junkie hoodie and thrift-shop accessories have grown back like molted plumage, and he’s taken to staring at the pictures of dead girls pinned to the wall as if he thought that, if he concentrated hard enough, he could see the killer’s face reflected in their eyeballs. His thousand-yard stare is scary and oddly thrilling. Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Kant, and Steve Ditko have all wrestled with the problem of why evil exists in the world. A show like this, and an actor like Joel Kinnaman, can make you feel pretty sure that evil exists so that you can have the satisfaction of seeing these characters run it down and kick its ass.


Some will object to the use of the verb “run,” believing that it connotes a much greater rate of velocity than anything that has to do with The Killing. But I like the idea—which, like many ideas that I like, I did come up with myself—that, this season, the show’s steady, methodical pace deliberately mirrors the slow process by which a detective who has had a hand in putting the wrong person on death row might gradually allow herself to consider the possibility that she made a mistake. After dancing around it for half a season, Linden finally comes right out and tells her ex-partner Skinner what’s on both their minds: “The killer is active now because it’s the same killer! Jimmy, it’s the same case.” Jimmy doesn’t want to hear it, but the best answer he can offer her is, “This job is not for human beings.” By which he probably means one thing, while his own behavior, which is indeed inhuman in his refusal to even consider that Ray Seward might be innocent, suggests another possibility. He instructs everyone to keep tightly focused on the search for Joe Mills, despite the strenuous denials of Angie, the only person alive who’s seen the killer’s face, that Mills is the guilty party.

Linden does finally visit the prison for a one-on-one with Ray Seward. She has no way of knowing that, even for a death row inmate, he’s already been having a bad day. Alton, the friend he made after the bad guard, Becker, stuck him in the cell across from his to annoy him, has committed suicide in his cell. (Henderson, the not-so-bad guard, demands to know why Seward just stood by silently and let Alton kill himself instead of helping him. Seward is too polite to point out the question answers itself if you listen to it.) Seward also has a visit with a fellow convict who, it turns out, is his father. It was Pops who got Seward that razor blade, to make up for all the birthdays and Christmases he’d missed. So he’s already in a grumpy state of mind when Linden rolls in and tells him that she thinks he might not have done it. Instead of exploring the details of her learning curve, he gets pissy, pointing out that it’s only taken her three years, and he’ll be dead in 12 days. “Don’t come back here!” he hisses, not even if she brings Twizzlers. There’s hope for some of the people in The Killing, but Ray Seward will always be a glass-half-empty kind of guy.


Stray observations:

  • You may have been wondering how Holder addresses his elders? “Yo, vintage playa!”
  • Holder doesn’t get to watch his noodling show tonight, but he does get in a brief monologue on Galileo and Copernicus. I’d give up more than one finger for the chance to watch that man conduct a filibuster.
  • Bullet, who spent last week’s episode playing tour guide to the detectives, spends this week’s doing the same service for Kallie’s mom, who has suddenly decided to go for the Mom Of The Year award. Mom, incidentally, mistakenly calls Bullet “Trigger.” That probably means something, but as for what, I’m not sure if the proper authority would be Freud or Roy Rogers.
  • T-shirt slogan of the week, from Seward, after his father has told him that he at least taught him to be a man: “Dying in an orange jumpsuit doesn’t make you a man!”
  • The new chief suspect is the angel-faced guy who runs the shelter. I don’t know if this is a red herring or a set-up for a really long, drawn-out reveal, but either way, it works better for me than eight out every nine times that Linden and Holder thought they’d finally figured out who’d killed Rosie Larson.
  • And Lyric kissed Bullet, like, on the mouth. If it turns out this is a dream or some bullshit, I’m going to fly to Seattle on the next plane and just start hitting people in the face with bricks, on the theory that if I just keep at it, eventually I’ll find the writers.

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