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The Killing, Ep. 4.01, “Blood in the Water” kicks off a new whodunit

The Killing, Ep. 4.01, “Blood in the Water” kicks off a new whodunit

The Killing season 4

The Killing, Season 4, Episode 1, “Blood in the Water”
Written by Veena Sud
Directed by Nicole Kassell
Premiered Friday, August 1st on Netflix

A fourth season of The Killing seemed unlikely, to say the least, after the show was canceled. Fortunately for fans, Netflix stepped in and the series’ change in venue will likely shape the final season (it should, for example, allow Joel Kinnaman to drop an f-bomb, which I’ve been waiting for Holder to do since he was introduced back in the first season). What hasn’t changed is the series’ murder-mystery core. The premiere introduces two intertwining plots: the massacre of the Stansbury family (save for one survivor, son Kyle Stansbury, who does not remember the night of the murder), and whether Linden and Holder will be able to successfully cover up Linden’s shooting of Lt. Skinner from last season’s finale. The whodunit of who killed the family looks like the most interesting central mystery in the show’s history, or at least one of the better plotted. It takes less time to find a plausible prime suspect for the murder than it has in past seasons, so maybe Sud has taken to heart some of the harsh reviews of the show’s meandering pace, or maybe that’s just the reality of having a shortened season. Plus, most cop shows would be unconcerned with continuity and the series deserves plaudits for continuing the cover up plot, which is one of The Killing‘s best arguments for existing; the other, of course, is the partnership of Linden and Holder.

Although unified at the beginning of the episode, the partnership of Linden and Holder is beginning to fray under the pressure of the cover up. Linden faces guilt about hiding Skinner’s body in the same place that Skinner hid the dead girls, and thus condemning those girls to forever be unfound, which clashes with Holder’s practicality about not wanting to go to prison and not wanting Jack to grow up with his mom. (Liam James, who plays Jack, has discovered success on the big screen, so one would think his subplot would thankfully be over, but according to IMDb, he will indeed return for episodes later this season.) The performances of the central pair continue to be top notch. Mireille Enos is even more pale and gaunt than before. She’s constantly finding new layers (and new sweaters) in her performance as Sarah Linden, like her breakdown in the car and the nausea on her face as she realizes that Kyle doesn’t remember anything about the night of the murders. Joel Kinnaman is in fine form with his Holderisms, and he also gets to play some nice dramatic moments as Holder finds out he is about to be a father and subsequently gets engaged.

Military school superintendent Margaret O’Neal’s (Joan Allen) introduction during a waltz lesson is hilarious. You can smell the entitlement and rigid adherence to rules on her character and it’s fun to see the show introduce someone who the audience can love to hate, rather than pity (like Belko) or just plain loathe (like the prison guard of last season). Allen is clearly relishing her role as the season’s de facto villain and seeing two talented actresses like Enos and Allen go head to head is a delight. It’s too early in the season to really judge the performances from new castmembers Tyler Ross (as the surviving member of the Stansbury family) and Sterling Beaumon (as the school bully), but it seems safe to say that there will not be another Bex Taylor-Klaus stunner of a performance among them.

Unsurprisingly, the episode’s shots are composed beautifully, with less focus on the rain of Seattle than previous seasons. Cinematographer Gregory Middleton uses silhouettes masterfully and a late night tour of the blood-bathed house is particularly striking. The use of lines and angles further emphasizes these characters’ isolation, with the shots of Linden’s car in the parking lot just slightly askew in its space and Holder standing out on the balcony, completely alone.

The episode closes not with a typical cliffhanger, but with Skinner’s daughter pounding on Linden’s door and screaming for her father as Linden hides in her dark house, horrified. So even though the mystery of who killed the Stansbury family will keep the plot moving along, it’s clear that the show is even more focused on how Linden is reacting to her own crime. I’m not sure The Killing believes in happy endings, but if anyone deserves one, it’s Sarah Linden.

Final Thoughts:

The opening credits are now intercut with scenes of a military school and the blood-stained white house of the murdered family, which fits nicely with the familiar theme music.

“Something’s wrong with Linden- she smiled at me.”

Linden gets a morning after pill and gets lectured by the male doctor. I cheered when she told him off.

Seeing Sterling Beaumon, so adorable as the childhood version of Ben Linus on Lost, grown up and gawky and calling Holder “Slim Shady” is jarring, to say the least.

I have no idea whom I think murdered the family, so it was probably Joan Allen.