The Killing is not a show that promises you a happy ending. It doesn’t tie its storylines up with a neat bow. It’s dark and dreary, and the moments of happiness are fleeting at best. Yet somehow, we hold on for those moments. We try to see the light in its characters. Like Ray Seward. Ray is a violent man, a pretty rotten father and a terrible husband. One thing he isn’t though, is a wife killer. Today is his execution.
The entire episode takes place at the prison, where in the opening sequence, the guards are doing a dress rehearsal of Ray’s execution. My heart sinks when the dummy falls through the floor. I can only imagine what it will feel like, when it’s Ray at the end of the rope.
Linden is at the prison, determined to rectify a mistake she made. A mistake that has doomed an innocent man to die. The guilt has been weighing on Linden like a stone around her neck. She arrives with the bag of unidentified rings Riddick found at the crime scene hoping Seward can identify one of them. Thus starts their daylong tête-à-tête. In a series that prefers to show, rather than tell, the dialogue between Linden and Seward and its emotional weight make this one of The Killing’s most powerful episodes. Seward drops his guard for a moment and identifies one of the rings. Linden rushes to call the attorney general and have him consider the stay. She leaves Holder a message to bring the Seward case files right away. Back in his cell, as Seward eats breakfast, CO Becker tells him about the scores of unclaimed remains in the prison cemetery. He asks Seward if anyone will claim him.
As Linden waits for news, Seward’s son Adrian arrives at the prison with his foster mother. Linden keeps her distance, but tries to prepare Seward for Adrian’s visit. Seward’s senses are in overdrive. The buzzing fluorescents. A women’s voice in the hall. Linden tells him it’s the adrenaline kicking in. CO Becker inexplicably cuts their visit short, and drags Seward back to his cell. Linden pulls some rank and busts out the big guns by rattling off the laws that CO Becker is breaking by keeping her from Seward. He acquiesces and brings a visibly shaken Seward back to the visitor booth. They wanted to re-weigh him, and Seward is terrified that his death will be one of agony. Linden calms him, and he cracks jokes about his upcoming last meal. He asks her not to make him go back to his cell, to just be there with him. They begin their cat and mouse game again. Seward explains what a truly bad guy he is, a monster that beat his wife and abandoned his child. He knows guilt is why Linden is there. She fucked up and saving him, means saving her own soul.
Holder arrives with the files, and he is dead drunk. His eyes are sunken, he staggers. Guy looks like the walking dead. He goes out for a smoke and runs into Adrian, who calls him on his drunkenness. “I ain’t acting drunk. I am drunk,” Holder tells the child. Adrian is less than impressed.
Linden finds a match for the ring in one of the photos in the case file and calls the attorney general, who is now willing to consider granting a stay. Linden goes to tell Holder, who is now gone. Adrian however is there. He tells her that he feels bad about getting his dad in trouble again. He confesses that his father was there that night, he was the one. Linden’s already pale face, drains of color. You can almost feel the ground beneath her crumble. She grabs the visitor phone and demands that Seward tell her the truth. She knows that he was there that night, but why? Seward, tired of having his hopes raised then crushed, clams up. Linden storms out of the prison and toward her car where she runs into Holder. Holder calls her out on the pattern she perpetuates. He tells her that she’s always running away, always leaving the scene. When things get too real, she bails because she’s afraid she might actually want or need something in her life. Holder hits it right on the head.
She shuts herself inside her car, but Holder stands by the window telling her he’s most definitely not going to kiss her again. Not even in her dreams. She cracks a smile. Her phone rings, and it’s the attorney general telling her that they refuse to grant a stay.
She breaks the news to Seward and asks him to give her something, anything that might help her, help him. Seward admits that he was at the crime scene that night. He was there because he was going to take Adrian away with him. When he arrived, his wife was already dead. Linden asks him to allow Adrian one last chance to see who his father really is. “Let him see the best part of you,” she tells him. In a very emotional moment, Seward agrees to see Adrian.
The guards arrive to bring Adrian to Seward, but he wants to make a detour to the little boys room first. Holder finds him, nervously trying to fix his hair. Holder says he’s in need of some gel, and that his dad won’t care what his hair looks like. He takes a handful of soap and puts it in Adrian’s hair, slicking it down. Helping one child doesn’t make up for failing Bullet, but we see a glimmer of the old Holder.
Linden and Seward await Adrian’s arrival, and Seward forgives Linden in a way. He knows she did all she could. Time has run out and all that matters now, is what he can say to his son. The door opens, but it’s not Adrian. It’s CO Becker. In one last gesture of cruelty, he denies Seward the chance to see his son. Seward screams and the guards wrestle him to the floor. Linden panics and tries to get the attorney general on the phone but Holder takes it from her and tells her it’s over. She weeps.
The guards prep Seward for execution, and Peter Sarsgaard really brings his everything to this scene. It’s chilling and unbelievably sad, as his body refuses to walk toward the execution chamber. As they pass a window, Seward sees Linden and Adrian waiting for him outside. It gives him the courage to face his fate and walk up the steps of the gallows.
Linden slips into the gallery to witness the execution. Her penance. When asked if he has any last words, Seward tells the crowd that Salisbury steak is just fancy ground beef. With that, he is bound. CO Becker attempts to put the hood on Seward’s head, but finds that he cannot. CO Henderson does it for him. Seward hyperventilates under the hood as the rope is placed around his neck. When the door opens and Seward falls, Linden turns her head. However, the fall did not break Seward’s neck as planned. He writhes in agony, choking for what feels like an eternity before he finally exits this world. The camera stays on Linden’s face as she watches on in horror.
What did you think of the penultimate episode of The Killing?