The Killing's third season is five episodes down with seven to go, and so to propel the show into the second half of its season, "Scared and Running" opened up a couple of new avenues in the search for Kallie/the Pied Piper case. Unfortunately, the bulk of the episode relied on luck and coincidence, as opposed to narrative sense and a feeling of legitimate police work from Linden and Holder.
It's lucky that a girl escaped from the who is presumably the Pied Piper, and it's lucky that those kids were gathered around the severed finger as the two detectives drove by, and thank goodness that that gang of punks had camped themselves in one Kallie's favorite haunts to provide Holder with a gang member to mention La Llorona, and in doing so directed the two detectives and Bullet to some blood-stained pipes on the other side of the river.
For a series that has, since its inception, prized itself on showing audiences the slow and occasionally grueling nature of police work, these helpful occurrences demonstrated the cracks in that approach. When the answer to the question of "How do we get the case moving again when we have to stall it so that another part of the story (Danette and Joe) can have a suspenseful cliffhanger?" is "Let's have a random victim escape!", you're writing yourself out of corners in a ways that aren't consistent with your show's normal standards of storytelling.
Narrative shortcuts are necessary to move things along. Bullet obtaining some information off-screen about the vet from a couple of sources or the quickness of obtaining a warrant to search Danette's home are examples of reasonable shortcuts. Sure, I would've liked to have seen Bullet working her contacts and chasing down leads, but that's more because I like Bullet rather than because I think that it was narratively necessary for us to see her doing that.
Even if you see Bullet's off-screen leads as another handy contrivance to move things along to Linden and Holder finding the girl, it was at least established earlier in the episode that the homeless kids don't even use the dwindling number of 24-hour clinics in the area if they need medical attention since it can catch the eye of the authorities. It's motivated enough by the dialog and the show's world -- talk of broken systems and fear of institutions -- that Bullet locating a vet that helps out people on the side doesn't strain the show's step-by-step approach to investigative work.
So while the set-up for the episode was incredibly frustrating, at least its execution was entertaining. Linden and Holder fell into easy rhythms that weren't interrupted by Reddick, and so following the chain of helpful plot points wasn't a drag. And then Holder broke out the hoodie so as not to look so much like a cop in front of the gang, and I didn't even realized I had missed it until he had put it on. I'm hoping he wears it in every episode now.
If there was one other thing apart from Holder's hoodie that thrilled me, it was Bullet. Bex Taylor-Klaus is getting better with each and every episode, and she's very good in this one, providing lots of terrific energy when she's on screen. It helps that, in similar ways to Holder, Bullet's not as dour as Linden or as everyone else on the show. Yes, her life is nothing but hardship, but there's an optimism and a drive there that allows her to keep her head above that dark, dank water. It may be a coping mechanism, but it's one that doesn't involve shutting herself off to those she cares about. I mean, hell, she made Linden smile two or three times in the episode. That in and of itself is pretty damn impressive.
Feeling decidedly more disconnected from the big plot of the episode than usual was death row. I still don't have a bead on what's going on with Gabe, the prison guard played by Aaron Douglas. I kept waiting for the episode to circle back to him and Becker's clipboard after that lingering shot of it, but it never did. We learned what Alton was in for, and that Adrian, Seward's son, has been asking to see his father. It was light on much in the way of developments, but I do like how Seward just can't escape his pre-death row life. It keeps intruding upon him, forcing him to think and feel when he'd rather just two weeks be over and he'll be hanging from the gallows.
– I'm happy that the series showed Holder screwing up his personal life a bit. His calling out of Linden about her parenting coupled with his mention of talking to Jack was undercut a smidge by totally forgetting Valentine's Day with Caroline. That Linden suddenly found the fishing show totally interesting as Caroline presented the cupcake to Holder cracked me up.
– On a related note, I love that Holder loves noodling.
– No Reddick this week, which means he must be the Pied Piper! Nah. It's probably Pastor Mike.
What'd you think of "Scared and Running"?