The Killing Season Three Finale “From Up Here” and “The Road to Hamelin”
Oh my God, y’all. I had whiplash at 10 o’clock when we finished the season finale, and then I wanted to roll it back and start over because it was just that good.
We got our answers, even if we didn’t get all of the details we needed, and the two hours back-to-back worked because “From Up Here” was sort of methodical and meandering before “The Road to Hamelin” dropped the floor out from under us. I genuinely hope this is not the last time I write about The Killing. I want to come back this week and tell you it’s been renewed, and write about it again next summer. But, if that’s not to be, I thank you very much for reading our coverage during three seasons that we did have. Let’s get to it.
We begin with Linden running in the woods and stopping under a tree as she remembers Seward talking about his tree outside his death row windows to the East. Trees will figure importantly in our finale. She gets home to find Skinner on her porch. He tells her his wife has asked him to leave. She invites him inside and it takes about a minute and a half for her to lean in and kiss him, and he’s still in her kitchen the next morning.
Back in the city, Holder goes to Bullet’s funeral, where he sits with Danette for a moment before taking all that he can and leaving Danette to sob alone. Then he goes to see Caroline. He begs forgiveness and she gives it, telling him it was nothing more than a fight. He’s relieved and then he’s called in to work. When Linden arrives, he gleefully tells her she’s late and then they banter a bit as he realizes she’s going to stay and is just this side of giddy about it.
The case they catch is a body in a burned out car that looks like an execution hit but when the coroner calls, the case takes a left turn. Just before then, Holder makes his peace with Reddick, who’s been reassigned to Jablonski. He goes to get Linden and sees enough of her with Skinner that he razzes her on the drive over to the morgue and they fall into a happy, if short-lived, vibe.
The coroner tells them the victim was shot point blank and all her teeth were removed. Holder notices the missing ring finger and they realize they’re looking at Angie. Holder starts to piece together that the only ones who knew about Mills were cops, and maybe Mills isn’t their guy after all.
In the city, Lyric is busing tables at a restaurant and Danette is there. They talk a little about Kallie and Danette offers to cut Lyric’s hair or give her a free ‘do if she’s interested. Back at home. Twitch is busy being domestic when he finds drugs in his jacket. He weighs the choice and later scatters them to the winds while smoking on the roof. Lyric walks home from work and a car pulls alongside, mistaking her for a hooker and she doesn’t correct the driver. (This photo on the AMC site makes it look she went on home, but that scene is not in the final episode).
Out at the prison, Henderson cleans out Seward’s cell and runs into Beckett, who’s had enough and decided to take his pension early to deal with the things at home. He tells Henderson not to be a lifer like he was–as much a prisoner as the men they were guarding. Henderson says he’ll be OK.
Linden and Holder head back in to the precinct long enough to grab a file and Linden is dumbstruck at the idea that they have the wrong man. Holder snaps her out of it by reminding her about Seward. They go back to the house of the first victim and find out she lived next door to Reddick. Then Linden spies a tree house across the way and snaps to that Seward told her about the tree house he built for Adrian.
She gets a map out of Holder’s glove compartment and IDs the land where the body farm turned up as the same land where Adrian’s tree house was built. They drive out and Linden climbs up and tells Holder to walk to the edge of the water. They have a clear sightline to each other and the penny drops for both of them that Trisha Seward was not the intended victim–it was Adrian…who we then see walking home from school and bouncing a soccer ball as he’s tailed by a gray sedan. The car rounds the block and comes to a stop facing him and Adrian drops his ball in the street.
Hour two starts with Linden and Holder charging up the steps to the front door of Adrian’s house as his foster mom comes home. She tells them to leave, that Adrian wants nothing to do with them, and then she goes inside. Linden spies the backpack on the floor and goes upstairs to search his room and the his mom appears in the doorway to tell them the back door was wide open.
Skinner picks his daughter up from ballet class and she jumps the gun on his news and asks him about his girlfriend and he says he can’t pretend to be someone he’s not anymore but he will always love her. Then his phone rings.
In front of Adrian’s house, the street fills with police and when Skinner shows, Linden and Holder tell him their theory. He tells them to keep on the case and he’ll go find Reddick. A uni comes over and leads them to a neighbor who Adrian came to for help and she turned him away. Linden is livid as the woman tells them that he came to the door, said someone was following him, and she took him back home but didn’t see anybody on the street.
Holder and Linden go back to the precinct and IA snags him out front. He goes inside with them and Linden starts calling Skinner, who doesn’t answer. She finds out he came by the precinct and left again for a family emergency so she goes to his house and in a moment of supremely bad idea lets herself in his house and goes upstairs where he’s packing calmly and telling her he’ll take care of Holder and they’ll find Reddick. His wife and daughter come home and his wife is furious and his daughter is upset and asks if he’s leaving. He says yes, for a little while, and they hug. On the stairs above, Linden watches awkwardly and then she notices Kallie’s ring on the daughter’s hand.
She catches her breath and follows Skinner outside. Everything gets really slow as the sprinkler system tick-tick-ticks in the grass behind the car, and Linden disintegrates with the realization it’s been Skinner all along. She watches him silently and Mireille Enos wins all the awards as her eyes fill, her skin pales, and she chokes on what she now knows to be true. Skinner stands up from the car and faces her and knows that she knows. She pulls her gun and he tells her to come with him if she wants to see Adrian alive.
She disarms him and climbs in the passenger side and tells him to drive. This begins his confession (and honestly, if you’re going to cast Elias Koteas, you have to give him something to play, so I’m the dumbass that this was a surprise to me). The short version is that he killed the first girl when he just sort of snapped because she blew off junior officer training to go get high and turn tricks. He won’t fully admit that he went to the Sewards to kill Adrian; he only tells Linden that Adrian didn’t remember him. He talks about the high he’s gotten from every death.
Back at IA, Holder is locked in a room as the IA guys roll out trumped up charges related to Reddick. They finally tell him Skinner made the report and he realizes Linden is in deep sh-t so he plays along and tells them he planted a bomb in Reddick’s car so they best get to steppin’. It’s not long before Reddick comes blowing into the precinct telling them exactly how stupid they are because Holder’s not a terrorist. They let Holder go and Reddick promptly clocks him and then Holder asks for his help with Adrian.
Holder goes to Skinner’s house and his seriously unamused wife tells him he left with Linden. He asks where the lake house he overheard Skinner mentioning to Linden is and then he’s off. (We spend the last half hour of the episode almost entirely inside cars). Reddick calls Holder and tells him he found a letter in Adrian’s bag that said if he couldn’t be with his dad, he wanted to be with his mom, and asks him if Adrian could be suicidal. Holder says no way.
Up in the woods, Linden has heard all she can of Skinner’s remorseless details and she gets out to vomit and collapses into the dirt weeping as Skinner tries to comfort her and she rails at him and herself. They get back in the car and as they reach the lake he talks about how deep and cool the water is and she asks if that’s where he put Kallie. He says she’s not the only one there, and there are others they will never find (Good Lord). She asks again about Adrian and he tells her to get out of the car.
Separately, Holder gets to the house and kicks the door in but doesn’t find Adrian.Â Skinner tells Linden Adrian has been with them the whole time. She demands the keys to the trunk and he stalls her. Back in the city, Reddick is searching the cemetery and he finds Adrian sitting in the dark, safely under the wings of an angel statue.
Skinner tells Linden he didn’t think he could kill Adrian, but he did. Holder is combing the woods as a shot rings out and he starts yelling for Linden. He reaches her and Skinner, who she’s shot in the stomach. He tells her Adrian is OK. He asks her to put the gun down, that this is what Skinner wanted–for her to kill him. She starts to lower her gun and Skinner says she loved him, she loves him. Before Holder can reach her, she raises her gun again and shoots Skinner two more times, finishing it. Behind her, Holder puts his hands on his head repeating “No, no, no…” And then we go to black.
So much was so good about these two hours. We moved seamlessly from light and happy to sinister and spooky to downright (and literally) dark. I loved the pacing, because while it seemed like Holder and Linden were getting back to normal, everything was just on the edge of being tipped over again. We got a brief glimpse of them being happy and loose. All credit to Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman for quietly conveying without a word the moment it slips away when they realize their body is Angie.
Enos is so good at just flicking a switch with her eyes and her face–first when she realizes their case isn’t a lock and all the air just leaves her, and second, when she realizes Skinner is their guy and everything she thought and felt and was sure that she knew to be true just drained right out of her onto the sidewalk, and then she remembered she was a cop.
Kudos to Kinnaman for that IA interrogation scene–watching him flip from potential victim to having the upper hand was a joy. Also a joy were the two banter scenes early in “From Up Here”–at the junk yard when Holder and Linden sort of not-discuss that they’re both OK and later in the car when Holder grills Linden about being with Skinner and she doesn’t deny it, and he calls her “1-900.” I could watch them on a loop.
I also loved that, despite his arc as a complete rough-around-the-edges blowhard and maybe-serial killer, Reddick came through in the clinch and was the one to get Holder’s ass out of a sling and was the one to find Adrian. Gregg Henry is so good.
Elias Koteas is always genius and I really (stupidly) thought he was was just here for the gig. I knew the jig was up when he was eerily calm while he packed his belongings to leave his marriage. And then they just let him stay quiet and calm and never lose his cool while Skinner laid out his horrible deeds for Linden.
I don’t think I expected Kallie to be found, and I hope that when we come back in season 4 (I’m just putting that out there), that we find out they did recover her body for Danette. The insult to injury of her death was that Linden had to remind Skinner who she even was, and attempt to humanize her for him, and he still just shrugged her off as inconsequential.
When we come back next year, I’ll be curious if we go straight into the aftermath or time jump again because there are a ridiculous number of complications to Linden killing Skinner heaped upon her having a relationship with him. I don’t want a season-long trial (and there shouldn’t be one, especially if they dredge the family lake), but season three proved The Killing could evolve. And I trust they can do it again. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending three summers with these characters and their stories and I look forward to a fourth.
Kinnaman and Enos are off doing movies now, but I hope we get them back in these roles. If not, I’m so glad we had 38 episodes.
Thanks for reading!
Note: Ratings are in and they bode well for a renewal. Sweet!
[Updated: The entire series is now streaming on Hulu.]
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