Kids! They're a real pain in the ass until you think they're dead, am I right?
After last week's whirlwind episode where Stan turned himself in, Holder and Linden turned up the heat on Belko "little man" Royce, and Rick and Linden became offsies, "The Killing" writers put the brakes on solving the Larsen mystery, and instead focused on crafting an affecting psychological portrait of Detective Sarah Linden.
But first, let's take a look at where things stand with the Larsen case.
Linden's ferry ride on the Adela lands her at the Wapi Eagle Casino, whose logo dangles from Rosie's key chain. After casing the floor, Linden has a bristly meeting with the female casino manager and head of security. The women refuse Linden's requests for help, noting that the security camera footage is deleted after 24 hours (weird...), and that she has no jurisdiction on tribal land (sonofa...!) before kindly asking her "to get the hell off" their property. Livid, Linden storms out and calls the DA to find out about a federal warrant only to learn that it'll take a week to procure. Amid her huffing, puffing and pacing, Linden notices an ATM machine and works on having the bank's security footage pulled for every ATM at the casino. The combination of intuition and serendipity, such as how she discovered the truth about "Adela" simply by noticing the ferry schedule on her morning jog last week, reveals the kind of haphazard nature of her job and makes watching Linden sleuth incredibly compelling. It's easy to see how one could become obsessed - every second not focused on the case could mean missing a clue. Or more importantly, THE clue.
And therein lies Linden's central struggle. From the series' start, she's been visibly pulled in two directions: work and family. The tension came to a head in episode 11, manifesting itself in Jack's disappearance. We've watched as Linden's become increasingly obsessed with understanding Rosie Larsen while at the same time, exponentially losing touch with her own flesh and blood. Jack's signals — e-mailing his friends the crime screen photos, cutting class, smoking cigs and drinking beer on Regi's boat — couldn't be clearer. THE KID WANTS HIS MOM'S ATTENTION. What's more, parents, teachers, even Linden's BFF/social worker Regi, and her man-child partner Holder have told her as much point blank. She knows she's failing in her role as a mother but she can't stop herself. She's addicted.
Last week Rick revealed that the last time she was on a case like this she literally drove herself insane, ending up comatose in the hospital staring at the wall. This week, Holder and Linden have an intimate conversation about his meth addiction and recovery: "I love meth. Loooooove that crystie," admits Holder. Still, he gave it up for his own good, and Linden commends him for it. Substitute sleuthing for meth and there you have Linden destroying her life and those of her loved ones - something Holder, six months clean is still awkwardly trying to mend as we see in this episode with his babbling voicemails to his sister. He probably won't ever fully repair those relationships, and neither will Linden be able to reverse the damage she's done principally to Jack, but to Rick and Regi as well.
But Linden's not simply a workaholic. She's got issues. Deep ones. Abandoned at age 5, Linden spent her life in the foster care system being moved from home to home - "You know what the worst part was? Finding the light switch. That damn thing was always in a different place." When Holder finds out as much, he tells her it's no wonder she's doing such a bad job at mothering.
"You can be a real dick sometimes," she says.
Holder replies "It's like cats - if they don't have a mom, they don't learn to bury they caca," in the sorriest justification for calling someone a bad mother ever. Plus, who says caca? And all this in between referring to Regi as Linden's "moms." The combination of Holder's weird-ass dialogue and accent is straight-up befuddling.
Annnnyway, while Rosie's case isn't quite a surrogate for her past situation, Linden is clearly fixated on wronged children — unless they happen to be her own. Or at least that's probably how Jack sees it.
The rain pours down and the hours tick by at the motel with no sign of Jack. The stress of her missing son sends Linden running back into the smooth-tasting, nicotine-filled embrace of chain smoking. Like Mitch in her garage, Linden sucks down cigarette after cigarette in her running leggings while watching the water fall. Linden and Holder put an APB out on Jack and cover the city looking for him everywhere from a graffiti-covered tunnel where kids go to skip class to the playground Linden used to take him.
Holder cracks Jack's cell phone pass code ("Funyuns" - something he took from Holder. I mean this kid is desperate for any kind of role model) and Linden discovers a series of texts between Jack and someone from a restricted number about meeting up. Linden worries he's been kidnapped and begins to think the worst. Later, a call goes out over the police radio about a kid matching Jack's description showing up dead under an overpass.
Like Stan the night they discovered Rosie's body, Linden rushes to the crime scene, busts through the tape, and rushes toward the body despite everyone's protests. Holder gets his hands on her and tries to keep her away, but she resists with a kind of feral madness, breaking free just as they announce the boy's identity over the radio. Linden turns out to be luckier than Stan - it's not Jack. He's been hanging with his dad this whole time, we find out later.
That doesn't stop her from collapsing into a sobbing heap. She cries madly for a minute while Holder sits nearby, his hand on her shoulder, before taking a deep breath, rising and leaving the crime scene. Will that momentary reality that she'd lost Jack for good cause Linden to change her ways? Can she hop on the midnight plane to Sonoma and leave it all behind once and for all? It's hard to imagine, especially considering that Rosie's face is all over that ATM security footage.
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