‘The Killing’ 3.10 Recap: “Salisbury Steak Isn’t Steak”

Say what you will about ‘The Killing’ (anyone who reads these recaps knows that I’ve said plenty), but the show sure knows how to pack a wallop during the face-to-face conversations. The story might be muddled as hell, but this week’s episode has some intense scenes going on.

Let’s see, how many emotions does Linden go through in this episode? Frustration, jubilation, despair, hurt, empathy, disgust, acceptance, sadness, anger… the list goes on. It isn’t just a roller coaster ride for Linden, unless we’re talking about the world’s most ludicrous carnival ride ever. She really goes through the wringer here, only to be stymied at the last second by a defiant-for-no-real-reason Seward and a bald-headed prison guard who’s still harboring resentment about his kid killing some dude on his front lawn. (Remember that? I know it was only last episode, but it’s pretty easy to forget.)

The sad thing is that Seward doesn’t really give up all that much information to Linden. He says that he’d left the house and then come back. He wasn’t actually there when his wife was killed. He admits to beating her and pressuring her to get an abortion.

A long time ago, Seward decided that he deserved to die, that he was a lost cause. At the end, his survival instincts take over and he tries whatever he can to get out of it, but his stubbornness catches up with him. Maybe if he’d helped Linden in the beginning, he wouldn’t find himself writhing on the end of a rope with a bag over his head. There isn’t a mulligan for that.

Meanwhile, Holder is still desperately trying to get over his overwhelming guilt about having an unwitting hand in Bullet’s demise – so much so that he befriends tiny Adrian Seward by offering him smokes and slicking back his hair with a couple squirts of hand soap. Who wouldn’t want Holder as a father figure?

Now is as good a time as any to talk about why I keep watching this show. It isn’t because I’m intrigued about the murder mystery. It has nothing to do with the procedural whodunit that the writers have been plodding along with this season. No, the real reason I watch is because Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman are really fantastic actors. Really.

How many other actors out there can pull off what Kinnaman does as Holder? His entire persona is so ridiculous that if you met someone like him on the street, you wouldn’t be able to hold in your laughter. Yet he sells it. He sells every corny line of dialogue he slings. Enos is just as effective, but with deeper emotions. Watching her opposite Peter Sarsgaard this episode is a highlight of the season. Her facial expressions say everything. If you told me that Enos stays up 48 hours straight before filming her dramatically challenging scenes, I’d believe you. She looks completely haggard, like she’s about to fall apart at her joints at any second. She has that end-of-the-rope look on her weathered face. It’s heartbreaking.

OK, back to the episode. As Seward swung around the bottom of the galley, suffocating, I couldn’t help but wonder what the season finale will hold. The “Next time on…” preview segment doesn’t give me hope for a satisfying ending. The real killer will finally be revealed and it’ll probably be either one of the prison guards or maybe even Linden’s boss/ex-lover. They’ll have to explain it all in some dastardly villain monologue scene, which I’m absolutely dreading.

These past two episodes have been pretty good. It seems a shame that the finale holds the promise of a surprise ending. Surprise endings don’t make a show good. Characters do. It’s too bad that Linden and Holder have played second fiddle to the mystery until now.


  1. T.J. Kats

    Agree totally on Kinneman and Enos. They are so good at portraying their characters that it is a shame that everytihing else is so convoluted.

    I laughed so hard when he called himself a serial chiller.

  2. NJScorpio

    I agree that it’s the characters/actors that sell this series. Unfortuanlty, there doesn’t seem to be the same number of compelling characters this season as in prior seasons. Rosie Larsen’s parents were fantastic, and the characters involved in the political side were far more intersting than the prison guards this season. The only character this season that could hold their own with Holder and Linden was Bullet.

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