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The Killing Recap: Is Anything Even Happening?

Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard) - The Killing _ Season 3, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Cate Cameron

Let’s say you’re a pastor whose only mission in life is to make sure the forgotten youth of our cities are given shelter every night. You start a youth center and it goes great for a while until a couple of cops notice that your photo configurations look suspiciously similar to their photo configurations and decide that must make you a murderer. What’s the best plan to convince them you’re not guilty? According to last night’s episode, which was packed with so much filler that bags of Oreo Big Stuf felt worried about their job security, the answer is obvious. You need to take one of those cops hostage and force her to drive until you reach the water and then kill her execution style. Nothing screams innocence like a bullet to an unarmed cop’s head.

I honestly don’t even know how to start parsing that plotline. It felt crazy watching it and wondering if the writers really expected us to be shocked by the reveal that Pastor Mike/Mark didn’t do it. It reached a level of performance art at points. Something this show loves to do, which was on especially stark display last night, is reengineer its characters to suit its purposes from one scene to the next. So the peace-loving Pastor is suddenly holding a gun to Linden’s head. Becker’s son, who last week was practically doing fist bumps with his dad over the idea of his hanging a man, is now back to being the shy, wounded product of a broken household. Seward was a level eleven jerk who refused to even have a conversation about his case until the show decided that he’s now a nice guy who's just trying to do everything in his power to prove his innocence. Lyric was the sweetest girl to ever eat ice cream out of a box last week, cuddling up with Bullet, telling her pastor that she wouldn’t be in the way. Now she’s got more attitude than we’ve ever seen from her, which stems from a busy night spent leaving a cozy house on her own accord in order to get back together with her boyfriend for no reason and then go hustling for change. Angie, the runaway who escaped from the real killer, went from being a girl who was worried the institution of marriage was off limits to her because she no longer had a ring finger to one who is now described as being so anti-Establishment that she preferred dying in a pipe to being taken to a hospital.

There are four more hours of this season left and two days before Seward is supposed to die. I don’t quite understand how either is true. This season has both raced and crawled by. Nothing has happened since the premiere. The Killing’s return no longer has an air of triumph to it. At this point, it reminds me of the scene in Goodfellas where Henry gets out of jail and goes to Pauly to start working again. Pauly gives him a few thousand bucks but then says he has to turn his back on him because Henry  kept messing with drugs after being told he had to stop. I feel like that’s what AMC did with Veena Sud. Handed her a wad of bills and then wished her luck. Last night felt like it was made for about a hundred bucks, no? The 40-minute drive. The whole station gathered around the CB for that same amount of time. That weird scene where Becker’s wife had a chat with Henderson in, like, a death row hallway.

Even Holder and Linden’s interactions felt like they were on a budget. We all know how expensive sexual tension is. There’s no way the show can afford to have that plus a manila folder filled with notes on Seward’s case. I loved when Holder asks if he can take a crack at that file, since a pair of fresh eyes might uncover a new detail. You think? Linden looks at that file every night and yet she only recently nailed down the logistics of the murder scene. And still hasn’t managed to interview the living witness to the crime.

Bullet finds out who the killer is just when Holder has lost his faith in her. That’s a much better working analogy for what’s going on with this show than Holder’s “shepherd and a flock” one. A satisfying resolution is now impossible. Besides a total botching of the investigation, there just haven’t been enough characters introduced. It’s either going to be Becker or that kid who ratted out Pastor Mike/Mark last week. Or some wholly new character whom we will meet at the beginning of the episode so that we at least know their name by the time we’re told that they’re the killer. The one way this show might manage to surprise me is if it turns out that Angie is actually an android (as in robot not telephone, because remember which show we are talking about here), which is the only explanation I can come up with for how her neck managed to heal so fast. Even if we’re going by Magic Hospital time, a throat slashing is still serious business. If only the show had a couple hundred more dollars to spend, we could’ve seen the inside of that bus, otherwise known as her home planet. Then we’d finally be getting somewhere.

Photo: Cate Cameron