Friday, July 19, 2013

episode alert: the killing, season 3 episode 8 (S03 E08)

Friday, July 19, 2013
courtesy AMCtv, source

I realize it might seem a bit strange to heartily recommend an episode from a television series when  your readers might not be familiar with it to begin with. There is a spoiler-ish quality, too, to pointing out a single episode that is not the pilot--if you happened to watch the episode I'm recommending today, for example, but have not watched The Killing before, you won't be privy to the history of Linden and Holder's friendship.  The point of my little "episode alert" feature, however is to highlight particularly powerful, entertaining, and/or significant episodes, and most of the them won't be the earliest ones of a series.  I hope, that if you love good television like I do, and you happen to stumble upon what I've written, perhaps you'll remember something I've singled out.  Entertainment Weekly occasionally provides primers of information for various shows, including episodes that are critical for appreciating them, and that's essentially my goal here.

Whew.  Now that I've gotten that out of the way...I bring you the eighth episode of the third, very lucky season of The Killing, which also happens to be the most recent episode.  It's lucky, both for us and for everyone involved with the show, because it was actually cancelled very shortly after the second season wrapped.  Viewers were annoyed and disappointed with the meandering plot lines, and the "Who killed Rosie Larsen?" question, which SHOULD have been solved at the end of the first season but was inexplicably pushed forth all through the second, became tiresome, weighing down a series that had been promising.  The cancellation news was no surprise, and even big fans of the show had to admit it had gone terribly wrong. When Netflix, basking in the glow of their House of Cards success, expressed some interest in renewing The Killing, however, AMC jumped back into the ring.  I haven't read enough about the renewed third season to discover if there have been substantial changes on the writing staff, but I can tell you one thing for sure: it's better than either season that came before it.

The ever-dark, dingy, and rain-soaked Seattle of the first two seasons remains, and the creepy score continues to provide a haunting backdrop in the final moments of each episode, but there is a fresh tension within the new storyline.  Holder and Linden are reunited and on the hunt for a serial killer preying on homeless girls, plucked from a gritty underworld.  The serial killer's MO matches that from the case that plunged Linden into psychological turmoil years ago, which instills the new case with urgency, as the man convicted for the earlier crime (played to perfection by the extremely-capable-of-being-creepy Peter Saarsgard) is days away from his death sentence.

With four more episodes to go in the season, we knew as we tuned in last week that Pastor Mike, who held Linden hostage in her car, could not possibly be the killer they were searching for.  That didn't make the episode any less riveting, and while Linden spent most of it in the car, her efforts to discern PM's intentions, attempt to relate to him, and simultaneously reveal her location to Holder combined to make for an incredibly tense and emotional hour.  That Holder was visibly distressed about her abduction, to the point of heedlessly acting on erroneous information from his plucky informant, made it all the more engaging.  The fact that we witnessed Saarsgard's first hint of real panic due to his impending execution was simply a bonus, and to cap it off, the episode concluded with the menacing flash of headlights, presumably from the killer's car, bearing down upon Bullet, arguably the character at the heart of the season.  It was truly one of the finest hours of television I've seen in a long while, and certainly the best that has come from The Killing.  It might even be worth slogging through the first two seasons just to get to this one.

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