Why We Love The Killing: Linden & Holder


It is less than two weeks until the Season 3 premiere of The Killing on AMC and a year since we last saw its dynamic duo grace our television screens.  We know very little really about Season 3: a serial killer, the case from Linden’s past that she discusses at length in “72 Hours,” a new cast of inmates, street kids, and partners, personal and professional, new and old, for Linden and Holder, a year apart from one another, Holder in a tie, and Linden off the force.  The show’s universe has undoubtedly had a bit of shake-up, and as excited as we are to see what series creator, Veena Sud, has in store for talented new additions like Peter Sarsgaard and Bex Taylor-Klaus, we are admittedly too excited for the split second of assuredly utter awkwardness when Sarah Linden opens the door of her new house to find Stephen Holder on her porch.

The relationship between Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder is clearly something magically organic certainly helped by the connection and talent of Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman.  Their bond is a marketable formula of loyalty, unspoken communication, even friendship with a hint of probably forever unrealized tension all too reminiscent of another beloved yet emotionally damaged crime-fighting duo anchored by a lovely redhead and her unlikely leading man (Hello, Mulder and Scully).  As we looked back on the evolution of these two characters, it seems a little staggering how far Veena Sud, Mireille Enos, and Joel Kinnaman brought these two characters.  We were as suspicious of Holder as Linden was for most of Season 1.  After all, he was meeting strange characters in cars, salivating after methamphetamine, planting doctored photographs, and generally obstructing Linden’s investigation.  By the end of Season 2, Linden and Holder only trust one another, and both willingly sacrifice what little credibility they have left to come heroically to the other’s rescue.   From warring factions to a united front in a little over three weeks, Linden and Holder easily became one of the most compelling reasons to renew The Killing for Season 3.

At the brink of Season 3, we know Linden left Holder in the car after he affectionately reminded her that she was “still his ride,” and she stayed away for a year.  She completely walked away, even if she had compelling reasons (i.e. self-preservation) to do so.  Will Linden and Holder be able to pick up where they off? Are they both so emotionally damaged that any progress towards earnest friendship will be gone?  Will Holder hold her in contempt for walking away?  Will Linden see Holder as a sell-out climbing the career ladder in his suit and tie rather than focusing on being a good cop?  How will the obsessive partners who spend every waking moment together during an investigation react to new people in each other’s lives?  And for the love of God, how long until they just…nevermind.  You get the idea.  So, until the partners are reunited on June 2nd on AMC, I wanted to savor a few of the Linden and Holder moments from Seasons 1 and 2 that made us fall in love with this pair.  Enjoy!

LindenHolder11. The Search for Jack Linden: Who can forget Sarah Linden frantically looking for her missing son (and pain in the ass), Jack, in the pouring rain, listening to radio reports and even breaking down at a scene when she suspects the body might be her son?  Holder chose to stay with her, even skipping a family function for his nephew much to his sister’s dismay and jeopardizing a relationship he is trying to rebuild in the wake of his addiction to be at her side.  When Linden and Holder return to her hotel to find Jack sitting outside the door to her room, the audience sees the first glimpse of unspoken affection between the partners as Holder tells Linden to “kick his ass” and she replies, “No doubt.”


2. “Holderisms”: Most of the classic quotes from Holder were in the form of silly affection and innuendo directed at Linden who generally responded by rolling her eyes and saying something fairly cutting back.  (Holder: “You keep that up, Linden, they’re going to be saying you left Sonoma for me.”)  At some point in the series, Holder’s comments like “You’re still my BFF” started to ring a little true.

The Killing (Season 1)

3. Linden comes for Holder on the bridge: When Holder realizes that his sponsor, Gil, provided him with a doctored photograph placing Darren Richmond in the campaign car on the bridge on the night of the murder, he is desperate for Linden to believe that he was equally clueless about the deception.  He pounds on her hotel room door, begging her to open the door and talk to him.  He eventually collapses in the hallway, leaving his gold badge, the detective shield he now certainly feels he did not earn, on the floor.  After Holder ends up in his car under a bridge with methamphetamine and another addict, we are certain that Holder is destined for a dramatic relapse or break, especially when the addict calls Linden’s phone and tells her that Holder is behaving erratically on the bridge.  Linden arrives to find Holder pacing on the bridge dangerously close to traffic.  She talks to him, assuring him that she believes him, and crosses to him, walking together with him back to the car.


4. Linden hides with Holder: When Adrian’s drawing of the trees ends up mysteriously taped to Linden’s refrigerator at her hotel, Linden packs up their belongings and takes Jack to Holder’s apartment to hide.  Even though he likely suspects Linden is simply being paranoid, Holder reassures her that even the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t come by his apartment.  Linden watches him cook for them and interact with Jack, seemingly enjoying watching her son interact with a man in this way.  Holder makes her coffee and obviously enjoys the family camaraderie of having the Lindens in his home.


5. Linden and Holder fight dirty: Linden and Holder have never been strangers to a little bit of verbal sparring, but the battle took a distinctly nasty turn when Holder told Linden that Jack confided in him that she was not sleeping.  Linden immediately bristled, and although we hoped she would emotionally lock down and remain silent or just take off, she waited for him to step out of the car before hitting him with an ugly remark: “Talk to your sponsor lately?  You might want to give him a call, make sure you don’t go off the rails again.” Holder counters: “Hey, at least I own my addiction.”  It seems to be the first time in the series where we see Linden and Holder hurt one another intentionally.

The Killing (Season 1)

6. Holder tells Linden she can talk to him: Linden and Holder recover the evidence from the Rosie Larsen investigation in Gil’s storage locker, including the elevator key that will get Linden to the 10th floor of casino.  In a moment of sudden seriousness, Holder assures Linden that she can talk to him.  Linden acknowledges that she knows she can talk to Holder before teasing him about getting back to work looking for the key.  Holder complies, even calling her “boss,” completing an awkward yet entirely swoon-worthy exchange.


7. Linden rescues Holder off the reservation: We absolutely agonized about whether Holder would survive his night “off the reservation,” but our favorite moment is the camera shot when Linden kicks in the door at the station and goes to war with Lt. Carlson: “He was screaming.  They were beating him.  Deploy the search.”  Feeling powerless, Linden risks every measure of professional credibility she has left, imploring her superior to give her the resources she needs to find Holder.  When she is convinced he will not back the search, Linden goes to the reservation alone before the roar of sirens behind her convinces Chief Jackson’s powerful friends to step aside.  When she finally finds Holder, the camera catches a look on her face that suggests a depth of feeling far more than just relief.  We know, in that instance, that Holder has become family to Linden, and she cares deeply for him.


8. Holder comes to the airport for Linden: After Linden arrives to find her son, Jack, missing from Holder’s apartment, Linden desperately tries to find him alone while Holder recovers from broken ribs in the hospital.  Holder’s sister asks her to leave his side at the hospital.  Her son, Jack, is actively running from Child Protective Services.  Linden must certainly feel like she cannot keep any of the men in her life safe from her obsessions.  At the end of the episode, Linden makes the heart-wrenching yet selfless decision to send Jack to Chicago to be with his father as she can no longer care for him.  After an anguished goodbye with Jack, Linden steps to the window to watch his plane take off for Chicago, and the audience sees Holder, battered and surely in pain, stepping up to be at her side in silence.  In that moment, as the camera pans out to show the pair together and isolated from any other airport visitors or passengers, we know instinctively that Linden and Holder now have no one but each other.


9. Holder supports Linden when she goes “rogue:” We have to admit that Holder’s absolute refusal to be intimated by his very demanding female partner is one of his most attractive qualities.  You have to admire a man that appreciates a very complicated woman without any compulsive need to control her.  Holder recognizes that Linden is flawed, but given his own flaws, he is more accepting of her flaws, reminding Lt. Carlson that “Linden ain’t so bad.”  When Linden confronts Mayor Adams, Holder is at her side.  When Linden is suspended and not supposed to be working the Rosie Larsen murder, Holder continues to work with her, facilitating her unauthorized investigation.  When Linden takes the key and goes into the casino, Holder accompanies her, waiting in the car while Linden discovers the key card before being attacked on the 10th floor.  Even after Linden is institutionalized, Holder continues to believe her story about the City Hall key card.


10. Holder secures Linden’s release from the Psych Ward: Holder is Linden’s consummate advocate when she is institutionalized.  He is enraged when he is unable to secure her release by merely flashing his badge to the point that he nearly starts a fight in the lobby.  Holder eventually learns that only Linden’s psychiatrist, Dr. Rick Felder, her former fiancé, can authorize her release.  Even though Holder had no idea that her former fiancé was her doctor as well, he still arranges to have Rick come to sign Linden out of the hospital, assuring him that he will take care of her.  When Linden is released, she sees Rick, pressing her hand to the glass obviously happy to see him.  When she emerges from the residential area of the hospital, Rick has left without speaking to her, and Holder remains, smiling and waiting for her.  Much like the scene at the airport, we know again that Holder remains her only constant.


11. Holder questions Linden about Rick: After her release from the Psych Ward, Linden and Holder return to Holder’s apartment where Holder asks Linden directly why she did not confide in him about Rick’s role in her life.  This conversation is almost intimate, essentially the first time we really see the two friends speak seriously about something so distinctly personal.  When Linden asks Holder if he is afraid she is going to lose her mind, Holder assures her that he is not worried about her, saying, “Think of me as your sensei in the blood sport of life.”  She smiles sincerely at him, another rarity reserved only for when she absolutely means it.


12. Linden comforts Holder after he shoots Jamie, solves the case, and walks away: Despite plenty of tough talk from Holder, he is deeply affected by Jamie’s “suicide by cop.”  The glass between Holder and Jamie shatters as Holder is forced to shoot the suspect.  He is visibly shaken, presumably never having killed anyone, but Linden approaches him calmly, checking on him and securing his weapon.  After piecing together the painful truth about Terry, Linden makes the decision to walk away, leaving Holder in the car after being instructed to respond to another murder.  Holder calls out to Linden, reminding her that she is “still his ride.”


What is your favorite Linden/Holder moment?  Where do you see their relationship in Season 3?  Let us know!


Comments are closed.