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The Killing Review: “Unraveling”

(Episode 4.02)

TV Reviews The Killing
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<i>The Killing</i> Review: &#8220;Unraveling&#8221;

Okay, I so knew something wasn’t right with the Stansbury family. As I said, nobody has that much white furniture in their house when they have three children.

Oldest daughter Phoebe was not as innocent as she seemed. She posed for pictures for their creepy, recluse neighbor. The neighbor, who Holder describes as being “one sunny day from cutting his ear off,” has hundreds of pictures of Phoebe in provocative poses in his house. But unfortunately, he also has an alibi for the night of the murders.

Kyle knew what his sister was up to and told his parents, but they didn’t believe him. “Phoebe was their favorite,” he says. Phoebe cut the wires on Kyle’s beloved piano as retribution. Not exactly a healthy sibling dynamic we’re dealing with here.

In general, Kyle is having a tough time. He’s back in military school where he wasn’t well-liked to begin with. Now he’s being harassed and hazed by fellow students who think it’s hilarious when his scar starts to bleed. They think it’s even more hilarious to pretend to be his beloved dead sister, Nadine. I know this is supposed to be a school for troubled kids, but are teenage boys really this cruel? Kyle’s entire family was murdered and this Knopf kid thinks it’s a joke? Kyle has one friend who sticks up for him, and helps him beat Knopf; and we get a glimpse of just how much violence Kyle may be capable of.

And Kyle definitely knows more than he’s telling Linden and Holder. He knows Katrina Nelson, the woman who left a duffle bag full of lingerie in the Stansbury’s beach house. She visits poor Kyle at the end of the episode and tells him his family “got what they deserved.” Is she guilty of the crime, or could she simply not stand Kyle’s family? She definitely had a past with Philip—he didn’t press charges against her for assault when he could have.

One of my major complaints with last season on The Killing was that, at times, the series played like one drawn-out episode of Law & Order, with far too many red herrings. This person is the killer. No this person is the killer. No this person is TOTALLY the killer. A shortened, six-episode series should minimize this, but I still doubt that Cat is the killer. She’s much more likely to be the red herring of the week.

Colonel Rayne wants to protect Kyle and we see a bit of humanity underneath her hardened exterior. Her voice cracks when she realizes that Kyle doesn’t know that his family will have to have closed-casket funerals, because they were shot at close range. Last season we had Bex Taylor-Klaus’ Bullet and Peter Sarsgaard’s Ray Seward as truly standout guest stars. So far, none of the new characters this season are as memorable as they were.

While Holder and Linden continue to investigate the murder, Bethany continues to look for her father and enlists Reddick’s help. We learn that Bethany hasn’t heard from her father in two weeks. This part didn’t really track for me. I get that Skinner’s wife wouldn’t be looking for him but wouldn’t anyone else in the police department be curious about his whereabouts? How long of a vacation was he supposed to be on? Reddick does some investigating and finds out that Skinner’s last call was with Linden. Since then there’ve been no texts, no calls, nothing. Holder and Linden had told him they were talking to CIs the night Adrian went missing. Reddick looks into this too and discovers it’s not true. When he confronts Linden, she tells him that she was having an affair with Skinner and wrecked his marriage, but that she doesn’t know where he is now. But Linden and Holder have left a trail of evidence in their wake. They may be good at investigating crimes, but they’re not so good at covering them up.

Holder’s relationship with Caroline continues to blossom. They go grocery shopping together. She’s going to meet his sister. He wants to be on the pregnancy diet with her. He wistfully stares at all the baby stuff at the grocery store. But how long can Holder live with his guilt, especially as Linden continues to crumble? She finds a spot of blood on her mirror and smashes the mirror. Gunshots make her jump. Bethany is suspicious of her. “She knows that I’m lying. She’s not going to give up,” she tells Holder. “Jesus Christ Linden, you’ve got to keep it together,” he replies.

So far, the growing tension between Holder and Linden—how they are both unravelling (hence the episode’s title)—and Reddick’s investigation into them, is far more interesting than the Stansbury murders.

Other thoughts on “Unraveling”:

•So many Holder quotes to chose from but I’ll go with “Crunch Berries make me a better crime fighter.”

•I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost typed “Mulder and Scully” instead of “Holder and Linden.” Just had to share.

•Um, where is Linden’s missing shell casing?

•How long until Reddick sees the ring on Bethany’s finger?

•I think we should start playing a game, counting how many times the “F” bomb is dropped, now that the show is on Netflix.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.