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2011’s Most Memorable Episodes: The Killing “Missing” 

Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC

One of the reasons so many folks (including me) complained long and loud about the season finale of the AMC series, The Killing, was that the rest of the 12 episodes had been utter genius. None more so (to me) than “The Missing,” which in my mind resonated more than the pilot because it broke the mold for the season and was still completely compelling. I called out this episode in a relationship recap last summer, but it also stands as one of the most memorable TV episodes of 2011.

The setup for the episode is a road trip for Linden and Holder out to a casino where Rosie had been spotted on an ATM camera. Once outside Seattle, Linden discovers her son is unaccounted for and she hurries back into the city and begins a mad dash around town trying to find him. Holder becomes her driver, confidante, and finally, friend, as the day wears on and he puts off his own family event, where he intended to right a wrong he’d committed while using, and instead stays by Linden’s side.

Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Over the course of the episode, the backstory on Linden that we’d pieced together for ourselves, based almost entirely on assumption, was finally revealed–she’d been through foster care and Reggie was the only remnant of that she’d chosen to keep, she’d been a single mom for a while, she wasn’t always at odds with her son, she’d quit smoking (in the run up to her marriage?).

The Larsen case was backburnered, and frankly, we didn’t really miss it because the episode finally fleshed out the wonderfully layered performances we’d been getting from Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman that hinted at who their characters were but who we as viewers hadn’t yet been privy to all the details.

Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC

The episode was also unusual because in a reverse bookend to the Larsen story, after a misdirect that has Linden losing it when a dead boy is discovered, her son is instead found safe and sound. Linden drops her aggressive stance toward him and instead wraps him in her arms as she lets go of all the drama and fear about everything that went through her mind that day, and everything she’d been unable to say about Rosie Larsen.

It was a perfect “day off” before we leapt back down the rabbit hole of the Larsen murder, especially when the closing moments of the season finale revealed that Linden might not really know Holder at all.

It’s episodes like this that pretty much guarantee I’ll be watching season two when it returns in 2012.

[Updated: The entire series is now streaming on Hulu and for free on IMDb TV.]

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