‘The Killing’ Review: “Eminent Domain”
Tonight’s all new episode of ‘The Killing‘ introduces us to a possible second suspect, while Ray Seward continues to count down the days until his execution and Linden struggles to prove to Skinner that the death row inmate isn’t responsible for his wife’s murder.
“Eminent Domain” definitely keeps the momentum going, that’s for sure. One of the most beautiful things about this series is how it’s often been able to draw thematic parallels or intertwine threads from the stories of different characters, and while it often vacillated between feeling forced and listless in the first two seasons, the more compact nature of season three is making ‘The Killing’ feel more tidy. There’s still the sense of people and things feeling adrift, but once they start tying those thematic threads together, we get these wonderful moments of realization — like tonight’s episode, when Lyric turns to Bullet for comfort because she keeps letting her fame-hungry boyfriend hurt her, yet she can’t stay away. Bullet, feeling lonely and mourning Kallie’s disappearance, engages in some mutually beneficial cuddling. Both of these girls are using one another to fill a void. In Lyric’s case, she’s looking for anyone to take on that masculine protector role, and she knows Bullet is lonely. Likewise, Bullet understands that Lyric is clingy and needs someone like her to stand in for her crappy boyfriend. It’s not detrimental, necessarily, but when juxtaposed against the rainy nighttime shot of these girls hanging out on the street as a taxi pulls up that might contain demise for at least one of them, we begin to understand why they’re so eager to hop in and take the ride.
Tonight’s episode is rich with complexity, from Seward’s conversation with his death row friend, who commits suicide when night guard Becker doesn’t show up for work that night. Seward enables his friend to die, but it doesn’t feel necessarily malicious; instead, it reads like a man who has grown to understand the inevitability of death, especially on death row, where it might be better to make peace with what you’ve done and take your own life on your own terms than to let someone pull the switch for you. Seward’s story really picks up tonight with a special visit from Linden. She’s been scolded by Skinner and the parents of Seward’s son for approaching the boy at school, which has sent him into a fit of regression and led him to sleeping in the closet. This inspires Linden to revisit the Seward apartment, where she discovers that sleeping in the closet was something he did regularly — and it also allowed him to witness his mother’s murder.
Linden’s visit with Seward is a tense few minutes, and Peter Sarsgaard’s performance is filled with incredible depth. She wants him to see his son, and she knows he’s not guilty, but after having spent three years in prison and with less than two weeks until his execution, her visit does little more than enrage him, and it seems that we finally see the real Seward — not the cold front he puts up for the guards and the inmates, but a guy with genuine rage and sorrow. Up until now, Seward has presented himself as a guy who’s ready for death, but beneath the prickly, pessimistic exterior is a guy who knows he’s innocent and doesn’t fully deserve to be where he’s standing. His visit with his similarly incarcerated father deepens our understanding of where he comes from and how impossible it is that he committed this crime.
Linden and Holder make little headway on the killer front tonight, but they do speak to Angie, the runaway victim, and get more info on their guy. He drives a cab, and she was only able to see his eyes, but she still doesn’t believe it’s Joe Mills when faced with a photo line-up. The killer kept telling her he could save her and help her “see,” and by episode’s end, ‘The Killing’ takes an interesting turn. It might not be Joe Mills after all, though he’s not entirely ruled out. He had Kallie’s phone, he’s been videotaping these young women in that seedy, hidden motel room, and even if he isn’t the killer, he’s sure as hell guilty. Rather than use Mills as the typical red herring that the show has been so fond of in the past, the show sticks with the idea that Mills is guilty, though it seems doubtful that he has much of a connection to how these girls are dying.
Enter the pastor at the local youth shelter. Holder likens the killer to a shepherd leading a flock to massacre, and that metaphor becomes all-too obvious when the detectives look upon the pastor’s collection of photos in his office. Is the pastor another misdirect, or are Linden and Holder getting closer to the truth? Tonight’s episode is just another example of how tightly focused this show has become, and I no longer feel as though the errors of seasons one and two are as relevant. ‘The Killing’ has held onto the atmosphere and deep characterizations that previously made it great, while letting go of the feverish concern to constantly fool its audience. Even if the youth pastor and Joe Mills are both innocent, the show is doing an excellent job of utilizing the suspicion of these men and thematically anchoring it to the season’s overall narrative.