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

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

the killing season 3 publicity photo
Credit: AMC/Fox Television Studios

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 give 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…



By on July 28th, 2013

About Amber Topping

Amber works as a writer and digital publisher full-time and fell in love with stories and imagination at an early age. She has a Humanities and Film Degree from BYU, co-created The Silver Petticoat Review, contributed as a writer to various magazines, and has an MS in Publishing from Pace University, where she received the Publishing Award of Excellence and wrote her thesis on transmedia, Jane Austen, and the romance genre. Her ultimate dreams are publishing books, writing and producing movies, traveling around the world, and forming a creative village of talented storytellers trying to change the world through art.

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11 thoughts on “Romantic Moment of the Week: Linden and Holder Have an Old Hollywood Moment”

  1. Wow. I didn’t make any such connection, but I completely agree with this analysis now. I, for one, really hope that the writers ultimately bring Linden and Holder together. I think they’ve hinted at it from the beginning. But, I would hope they’ll take their time…..given the ending of the third season, I know there will be a lot more of the ‘trials and tribulation’

    • I think I convinced myself as I was writing it out. 🙂 I hope they bring them together as well and I agree it shouldn’t be right away.

  2. I just started watching this show on Netflix and just came across this episode. I’ve never even thought about them having any kind of romantic feelings for each other, but after reading this it all makes sense. Now I see the appeal and I want it to happen. Thanks for making a shipper out of me!

    • It didn’t occur to me at first either. But then little things in the third season began to make me wonder. And then this scene? Totally caught me off guard. Now I kind of want it to happen too. Though I’ll be just fine if it stays in the world of subtext. Anyway, you are welcome!! 🙂

  3. Sorry for my bad grammar. My English is not very good.

    I watched this show about 2 weeks ago, and I have finished Season 3 by now. I really really enjoy the interaction between them. In the beginning, I don’t think it would be a good idea to see them end up together, considering all the difference of personalities between them.

    But later I think that if even Holder can’t be together with Linden, who else? After all those difficult times, all those tears and laughs, they are the two who knows each other the most. I don’t believe that there will be someone like Holder who could get so closer to Linden. And I am just love Linden too much to see her alone in the final season. Holder, too.

    They deserve each other.

    Can’t wait to see Season 4 in Aug!

    I just need to share what’s going on in my head. Thank you!

  4. I just started watching this show. I felt something from Holder in Season one, the episode where he is helping her find Jack. It was not romantic but definite affection from Holder. I think it’s a complex relationship where it’s easy for the viewer to completely miss his well masked feelings for her. I think it’s perfectly normal for two lost souls to find comfort in each other- I also love unicorns, so that’s me!!

    • Yes, I agree. There is definite affection from Holder! And it just becomes more and more apparent throughout the series! And yes, there’s something beautiful about two lost souls finding each other. But then, I love unicorns too! 🙂

    • I didn’t see the connection either in the beginning. Not from Linden. Season 2 showed me how much affection Holder had for Linden when he helped her look for Jack and left the msg for his nephew saying Linden needed him. That was super sweet! The looks, the comments, he very subtly showed he was drawn to Sarah but she wasnt willing to let him in close to her as a friend. I was always pulling for Holder though because they were two broken souls seeking truth and meaning so I thought they were perfect for one another. I also think its normal for 2 ppl who spend so much time together sitting in a car, doing surveillance, working closely together, to build some affection for one another. Just another thing I like about this show. The romance is real like life. They don’t just meet and hook up. They are tested by their job, their life, the sadness of the crimes they handle and they form a bond that is unique… like unicorns.
      I really love this show and can ramble on and on about Linden and Holder but I think the missed kiss in Season 3 just left me hungry for them to have a real relationship!

  5. Ok, I am so late to this party, but I am re-watching the Killing as part of a personal research project I am doing and I came across this thread. Like many of you, I think Holder and Linden’s relationship is one of the strongest parts of the show. I am commenting because I was surprised to learn that most folks didn’t see it coming at first-I find people’s reactions to on-screen relationships says a lot about our spectrum of experience as humans. Contrary to most of you, it was the immediate connection between the two of them that grabbed my attention. In the first episode, during their first drive together, Holder asks Linden, referring to knowing who the “bad guy” is, “Is that why you’re running away, Linden, because you don’t know no more?” He gets more in 20 minutes of knowing here than anyone else in her life does and she knows it. You can tell by the look on her face. I don’t know if Veena Sud planned it, but the characters did. I think there’s was a compelling romantic relationship from the jump, and I am not sure it was done any favors by having them end up together. the romantic in me liked it, but it did not feel 100% true to their stories. But, that is another conversation…Thanks for letting me comment!


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