‘The Killing’ recap: Bullet, the girl who cried Pied Piper

Trust is difficult to build and easy to destroy. It’s a lesson Bullet may be learning too late.

The spunky, street-surviving teen has shown a willingness to lie to help her friends, but her actions backfire badly in this week’s episode, titled “Try” (something of an understatement, but maybe show runner Veena Sud thought “Gambling With Life and Death” was a bit much).

There are three desperate, last-chip bets: Bullet fabricates a story to get Det. Stephen Holder to search for her girlfriend; Det. Sarah Linden tries to talk her way out of mortal danger from an abductor; death row inmate Ray Seward struggles to avoid the noose.


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“Try” picks up immediately after last week’s “Hope Kills,” with Linden in a car and Pastor Mike, the prime suspect in the Pied Piper serial murders, holding a knife at her throat. He takes her gun and phone and has her drive. Linden plays the situation as well as she can, listening to her abductor and trying to find a way to relate, to reposition herself from enemy to confidant. She tells him she understands his work with troubled teens and shares details of her childhood spent in the foster care system, mentioning that she ran away a few times. But Pastor Mike is no fool.

“That’s what they taught you, I suppose,” he says. “Humanize yourself so the abductor won’t kill you. It won’t work.”

Meanwhile, Bullet has told Holder that her girl Lyric is gone – and that she’d been at Pastor Mike’s house. That’s true. Then she adds that Lyric called scared, saying the guy was trying to kill her and taking her to the woods where he killed the others. Viewers’ lie detectors go all squiggly here, but Holder, who after a rough start has grown fond of his young informant, believes her and takes the information to Director of Special Investigations James Skinner.

The search for Pastor Mike (real name: Mark Elwood) has centered on the train system, as his car and its backseat bloodstains were found outside a station. But on Holder’s “no doubt” assurance about his informant, Skinner orders a massive reallotment of personnel to search the woods around the retention pond where most of the Pied Piper’s victims were found. Oh, and Skinner wonders, where’s Linden?

Eventually, Holder catches on to Linden’s gambit with the radio, and the police begin listening intently for clues to her and Pastor Mike’s whereabouts.

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In the car, the erstwhile Mark Elwood is ready to talk about the incident that led him to change names and leave Tempe, Ariz., for Seattle – the kidnapping charge in the case of a 16-year-old girl who then overdosed before the trial. You knew there was more to that story. You knew Pastor Mike wasn’t the Pied Piper. He was detoxing her after no program would take her, and she got out and claimed he kidnapped her, he says.

The tense driving tour – which includes Linden touchingly talking about her struggles as a single mother – comes to an end when Pastor Mike belatedly spots the radio transceiver by her leg (Holder has deduced where they’re heading). He has her pull over, marches her over by the water, and pushes her to her knees, pointing the gun at her head. But he’s not a violent man: He gets on his knees beside her and prays for forgiveness to the sound of approaching sirens; he tosses the gun in the water. When police arrive, Pastor Mike seems to contemplate suicide-by-cop, as he doesn’t turn around and keeps his hands in his pockets. Linden shields him and swears he doesn’t have a gun until he decides to comply with Holder’s orders. The abductor cuffed and escorted away, Holder comforts his partner.

In prison, Ray meets with his lawyer. Where the lawyer pushed for Ray to be proactive in the season premiere and Ray said only that he wanted to be hanged, now Ray is pushing – there must be something they can do with Linden’s statement that he’s innocent – and the lawyer only wants to know what to do with his remains.

As the guards Francis Becker and Henderson escort Ray back to his cell from this dispiriting meeting, the convict falls to his knees in a panic attack – and, to Henderson’s surprise, Becker moves to calm and help his most hated ward.

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If there was any lingering doubt that Pastor Mike ain’t the killer, Skinner sweeps it away, telling Holder that the only blood in the car was from Angie – the Pied Piper escapee whom the suspect took to an illicit ER – and that the guy was in Mexico City when the 2009 killings took place. And one last thing: Lyric walked unencumbered out of Pastor Mike’s house and has been hustling all night, so your informant lied.

Holder is on the warpath – and it’s a short one, as Bullet is seated in a nearby hallway. He yanks her up. “You junkyard little … You almost got my partner killed,” his tirade begins.

Bullet fires right back: “You ain’t done nothing for me. Kallie’s still out there. You ain’t found her. You ain’t found nothing.”

He threatens to throw her into the foster care system. “Yeah, that’s right,” he says. “I’m not your friend. I don’t give a … about you. You’re just a nobody nothing punk...”

So the most fun to watch relationship of the season is in tatters, and Bullet, whose best friend is missing, whose closest ally has almost literally kicked her out (her backpack got the boot from Holder), soon learns the third of her important relationships is over: Lyric says she’s back with Twitch and isn’t gay. The downcast tough gal heads to drug dealer Poochie, who mentions a girl with a finger chopped off who came by for a score before heading out of town. Bullet realizes this is Angie – and sees a chance at redeeming herself with Holder.

The carrot-chomping detective she calls Bugs, meanwhile, has headed out to Linden’s to see after his rattled partner -- with Chinese takeout. She drops her defenses, talking about the terror of seeing Pastor Mike’s eyes in the rearview. She confides, “I kept thinking this is what it must have been like for all those girls.... Only it wasn’t him.” The Seward case file is out on the table, and Holder will take it home for a look.

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Just when it’s looking like Becker isn’t a suspect, there’s his cheating wife approaching Henderson, saying Francis hasn’t been home in days, that he doesn’t come home for nights on end. Will he just sit and talk with her? Looking at the dejected son sitting behind her, he says he can’t.

Bullet tracks down Angie at a train station and tries to trade drugs for info about the Piper. On screen, Angie tells Bullet she can’t help. But later Bullet calls Holder from a diner and leaves a message: “I know who he is.” Alas, Holder is ignoring her calls. And after she’s cried wolf once, will he believe her?

Linden gets a phone call from Seward, who says he needs her help and can arrange for her to see his son Adrian, whose foster parents are unhappy with the detective. Other than Angie, Adrian may be the only person who has seen the Pied Piper in action and lived.

“Try” ends with a figure in a car staring through the windshield and diner window at Bullet.

Suspect Derby

Granted, Joe Mills is still out there, but I think it’s someone in law enforcement. I lean that way especially because of the final scene this week. What would lead the killer – if that’s who’s in the car – to Bullet? Maybe train station surveillance. That had been ordered when the search for Pastor Mike was on. It could be that someone with access to that surveillance saw Bullet interacting with Angie. Now, which person? Skinner? Det. Carl Reddick? Becker wouldn’t be in the loop on the Piper investigation, but he remains a tempting pick.

Lingering questions

Where’s Kallie?

What’s Becker up to?

With Pastor Mike almost certainly going to prison, what becomes of Beacon Home?

Last thing

In a tense, high-stakes, emotional episode, there was one line that made me laugh. To the possibility that Pastor Mike left his car at a train station as a diversion, Reddick says, “That’s some Spy vs. Spy …”


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