THE SHOW: The Killing

THE PAIRING: Linden and Holder

THE EPISODE: “Reckoning” (aired July 21, 2013)

THE MOMENT: Holder tries to kiss Linden during an emotional breakdown.


Smoking cigarettes haven’t been this romantic since Old Hollywood.

“Shall we just have a cigarette on it?” Paul Henreid asks Bette Davis following a heartbreaking moment between their two characters in Now, Voyager. “Yes,” she replies almost happy. Davis then hands Henreid her cigarette box, he lights up two cigarettes in his mouth and shares one with her in an iconic moment of tragic love.

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Cigarettes were used as a symbol for sex in classic films such as Now, Voyager because the Hollywood Production Code (strict moral guidelines) was in full effect, making subtext the go-to way of revealing sexual emotions and experiences rather than the explicit content we see today.

…it’s surprising when a TV Show about murders and killing has a quiet moment using cigarettes to express the emotions of the characters.

So, it’s surprising when a TV Show about murders and killing has a quiet moment using cigarettes to express the emotions of the characters. Earlier in The Killing’s episode, “Reckoning,” Holder and Linden converse about cigarettes, foreshadowing what happens next in our first romantic moment of the week.

The Lead-In

While walking into a suspect’s storage unit to investigate, Linden and Holder joke about cigarettes. “Give me a smoke,” Linden demands light-heartedly. But Holder isn’t having it and teasingly replies, “No.” His reasoning? “All I’m saying is, you know you buy a pack or two, reciprocate the love every now and then and we’re back to being BFF’s again.”

Reciprocation and love are the two keywords here. Is the writer hinting that Holder has unrequited feelings for Linden? The romance between the two partners isn’t something I considered in past seasons. In hindsight, however, the underlying romance is there. But it’s only been the last few episodes I noticed. Holder’s behavior, his stares, little one-liners, his reaction to Linden’s kidnapping, not to mention his obviously failing relationship with his girlfriend, all point to romantic love, at least on his part. Linden, on the other hand, remains oblivious.

As the episode progresses, Holder stumbles across devastating news: the street kid, Bullet he befriended, was murdered. In a self-destructive guilt game, he turns to Linden for relief. Is he only seeking comfort? Or is it a weak, emotional moment revealing his true feelings?

Romantic Moment – Linden and Holder

The scene begins with Linden entering his apartment. Holder sits on the couch, smoking in the dark. After Linden sits next to him, a quiet intensity permeates the scene. After a few long, tense moments Holder passes the cigarette pack over to Linden and she lights a cigarette. Again, it’s Holder who provides the cigarette. Not Linden. Foreshadowing that whatever’s about to happen between the two of them isn’t going to go anywhere because Linden isn’t “reciprocating the love.”

They continue with small talk, all leading to Linden comforting Holder because he blames himself for Bullet’s death.

“You want to sit here and die? It’s not your fault…it’s not your fault.” She moves closer and closer to him, insisting he hears her. In return, he stares into her face with longing. At that moment, it was the first time I believed the writers might actually take their subtle romance further.

I know I wasn’t the only one asking, “Are they going to kiss?”

It’s difficult not to feel the synergy on screen here as it oozes from every corner. After a long stare, Holder makes his move. He leans in to kiss Linden in what is arguably the most surprising moment of the season.

Romantic Moment of the Week: Linden and Holder Have an Old Hollywood Moment

Photo: AMC

But do they kiss? No. She turns him down and then pats him awkwardly on the knee, reassuring him that it doesn’t matter. His humiliation then combines into heartbreak over Bullet. He breaks into sobs in a moment both heart-rending and embarrassing to watch.

For now, the ambiguity of their relationship continues to leave the romance angle up for speculation. If you want something there, Holder’s intense stares and line delivery steeped in unrequited subtext gives enough for the shippers to hold onto. And if you want them to remain only BFFs and partners, their relationship is so debatable one can choose to see any possible romantic moment as “seeking comfort” or “joking around” and they can sleep just fine.

That said, if we see Linden buying Holder a pack of cigarettes by season’s end, well…we’ll know what that means. But perhaps Holder’s line when he sees Linden picking up an old, used cigarette, reveals more of what will happen in their developing relationship next:

“Seriously Linden I was just playing with you back there. If you need a fix that bad…”

Take that for what you will. Don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars….

What did you think of this moment between Linden and Holder? Sound off below…


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