The good news is that Holder and Linden are partners again. The bad news is that Holder’s old/new partner Carl might not be around much anymore. I know I called him a wet blanket last week, but I have actually gotten attached to his confusing brand of low-energy overachiever. I once petitioned to have this show renamed this show, but since that referendum is currently tied up in Congress (I guess there’s more pressing business to attend to or whatever), I’m taking advantage of the delay by proposing an alternative: The Grumbling. Twitter handle: TheGrumbling_AMC.
Linden thinks the teenage porn tapes they found in the pimp’s rave loft might have something to do with the swamp full of missing teenage girls that she found. There’s a whole lot of grumbling about this. Carl is suspicious of her finding highly incriminating evidence — a tape of an underage Callie crying while an offscreen cameraman calls her little girl and asks questions about her virginity — suspicious since Callie isn’t officially missing. During the debriefing, we learn that the only thing the dead girls have in common is gender and age range, causing Linden to pipe up, “Callie fits that profile.” I’m going to have to give the point to Carl for that one. He loses his advantage, though, as soon as he starts scoffing at Linden for wanting to do another interview with Callie’s mom. “I’ve forgotten more convictions than she’ll ever have,” he tells Holder, which isn’t the best burn, but don’t tell him that since he’s been getting burns wrong since before we were born. “I didn’t get where I am by interviewing key witnesses and conducting surveillance and following up on potential leads,” he basically says.
Holder and Linden bust into the flea-bag motel where the runaways sometimes stay, after Bullet tells them that’s where Callie was on the tape. I wonder if Grace Zabriskie, who plays Mama Dips, the lady who runs it and who also played Laura Palmer’s mom, has a policy where she only says yes to shows that have dead teenage girls, eccentric police detectives in well-tailored suits, and mist. They find the hidden porn video room and Holder interrogates Mama. It’s the best scene of the episode, the two of them sparring back and forth. If there were a spin-off show involving her and Carl, I would watch at least the first three episodes. She doesn’t fall for Holder’s charm and he ends the interrogation without any new leads. I’ll probably be cutting and pasting the last part of that sentence a fair amount during these. For example, Linden goes and interviews Callie’s mom and — after reaffirming that she’s a crappy mother who didn’t answer the door when her daughter knocked on it looking for a place to stay on the night of her disappearance — leaves without any new leads. She does deduce that Holder is dating the D.A. lady, probably by a process of elimination trick like, “Who’s the least likely person on the planet for Holder to be seeing?”
The station’s tech guy (!!!) hands Linden a set of photos, “Here are the screen grabs from the videos. Sorry it took so long.” Do you have any idea how badly I want a screen grab of this scene? She starts leafing through the stack and stops at one girl’s face. She looks up at the bulletin where the photos of the seven I.D.’d dead girls are pinned. It’s exactly the same face. Because that’s how faces work. When they’re the same, they look like each other and you recognize them as being so. This seems to be one of the more challenging aspects of the job for Linden, though. She holds the two photos, of the same girl who has the same face in both, up next to each other. She’s pretty sure she’s right but not positive, so she calls Holder in and he confirms, yep, same face. They smile at each other like, “That’s right, we’re nailing this one.”
Meanwhile, Twitch, the runaway who spent his girlfriend’s life’s savings on temporary hair dye and wants to go to L.A. and be an actor like Joaquin Phoenix (a dream I’m in full support of as long as he doesn’t do his own version of I’m Still Here) meets with his parole officer. While previously seeming like an affable enough fellow, prone to encouraging his wayward charges, the parole officer has since been infected with the rotten, kid-screwing-up virus that eventually fells most of the adults on this show. He tells Twitch that his drug test came back positive, but Twitch insists that he’s clean. The parole officer tells him to get in the backseat. Twitch tells him he’s not gay; the parole officer says he isn’t either. We don’t see what happens next, but it seems like Twitch was raped. He goes back to his place and shoots up, and Bullet finds him and it’s sad. They go for a walk and Twitch picks a fight with some skater punks. A grumble rumble ensues. Lyric comes home and sees Twitch’s bloody face and offers to buy him all the Band-Aids and Popsicles he could ever want. Or that a handful of wadded-up one dollar bills can afford. (Those Popsicles better be off-brand.) Because she’s a good girlfriend, she doesn’t bring up the fact that by the time his face heals and becomes good-looking enough to be that of an aspiring actor, the hair dye will probably have faded. Because she wasn’t in the car during his conversation with his parole officer, she also doesn’t mention that he has a better chance of being the next Joaquin Phoenix now that he’ll probably have a facial scar. That would’ve made him feel better than getting a Popsicle. Bullet stands by watching the whole time, and this is sad, too, but in a different way.
On Death Row, Seward is supposed to be taking antibiotics for his D.I.Y. tattoo removal project but he doesn’t want to. The dude has a solid argument considering he’s not going to be alive much longer, and so an impending infection is really the least of his worries. The nice guard, Gabe, is cool with this, but then the mean guard, Becker, invites him back to his house for a beer and gets all grumbly about it. His wife also hits on Henderson, like, twenty feet away from her son who just starts doing his homework even faster so he can get straight As and out of this town before he’s infected with the other kind of virus, the one that makes good kids who like school end up as runaways. The next day Becker forces Seward to take his medicine by beating up on the other prisoner guy, Alton, who is more mumbling than grumbling, continuing to keep up a steady stream of chatter in all his scenes. Seward likes him now, though, because Alton made the kind of biting, insightful joke that isn’t funny but has been known to make fictional characters laugh, at first bitterly and then genuinely, for a sustained duration of time.
Linden’s ex, Skinner, grumbles about how weary this major case that it’s his job to solve is already making him. He asks for an update, and Linden and Holder report that they don’t have any new leads. Then Skinner gets the best grumble of the episode maybe, when his boss (I’m so puzzled by the chain of command at this station) asks if he can see him in his office and then proceeds to do a silent, exaggerated grumble pantomime while the other detectives watch through the window. Linden asks for Holder’s help interviewing a young pregnant single mother, Tiffany, who was identified from one of the tapes that Linden failed to get any new leads from. Carl stands in between them doing his best Jonah Hill impression, “Oh really, Linden, you need his help interviewing a living girl? She’s not dead then? A living girl isn’t dead?” He’s trying to prove that Callie’s disappearance has nothing to do with bodies they found. Why he’s trying to prove this is beyond me, since they have no other clues when it comes to the bodies and a million clues when it comes to where Callie was last seen. Trying to save a teenage girl before she’s murdered would be a bonus at this point to the already huge pile of incentives that looking for Callie offers otherwise. Linden asks Carl why he’s still there and reminds him that he’s never made Sargeant. Holder does a terrible job of covering up his smile at this. Then he follows Linden to her car and is all, “But I’m driving” which is where every eighties movie would end but we’re just getting started.
They go back and talk to Tiffany. Holder tells her she’s worthy. He’s nice. We love him. And then she, I guess, tells him the name of the guy who made the tape: Mills. Holder and Linden type Mills’s name into a database, discover he’s got a record, and two weeks later, the station printer finishes printing out his mug shot (Kidding! Sort of!). You guys are going to yell at me, but I had to rewind this part in order to even remember who this guy was. The combination of perpetually dreary weather, scenes that take place inside cars, adults who are all evil played by actors who all look like each other (although none as much as that dead girl who looked exactly like herself) is not helping on the identifying front. Anyway, it’s the same john we saw Lyric with last episode, who drives a cab and gave her hash browns and told her to buy some mittens so her hands wouldn’t be so cold while she gave him a blow job (swoon). He also turns out to be Callie’s mother’s boyfriend, the one she hoped to let sleep over instead of Callie. If you try to convince me that this plot twist wasn’t written five minutes before they shot the episode, you will fail, but I’ll appreciate the effort.