"Off the Reservation" Review
“Off the Reservation” starts big. Linden is panicked and demands a search for Holder, who has been missing since the conclusion of “Keylela.” Linden’s boss, Lt. Carlson, denies the search and is a pain in the ass for most of the investigation. In fact, he’s easily the weakest character on the series; he’s nasty for no reason. His poor characterization is easily summed up in his short line of dialogue to Linden: “And don’t take this personally, but I just don’t like you.” Yeah, it makes no sense.
Fortunately, all else works well here. Linden’s relationship with Jack is the emotional core of the series, and I love the closure we get in “Off the Reservation.” Linden is essentially forced to send Jack to live with his father so she can finish the investigation. Her goodbye was well-acted and directed, feeling subtle and effective. I also like that a beat-down Holder comes to her side when she needs him most.
I appreciate “Off the Reservation” most for stripping Linden of her badge. That was surprising, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. It was one of the first times we’ve seen real, substantial consequences, and it felt like a huge step forward for the show.
Likewise, the ending was just perfect, with Linden looking up at the plane heading in the opposite direction, before staring ahead at Seattle. There was something both sad and creepy about it. I love that she’s going rogue and investigating the case without being a legitimate cop. It’s especially interesting because this was the one time she really had a chance to leave it all behind, yet consciously chose not to.
The political side of this episode is dialed back a bit, allowing for Mireille Enos to shine (as she always does). However, there are still some interesting reveals. First, we learn that the election is in five days, which brings us right to the finale. We also see Richmond confront Mayor Adams on the doctored picture. Though not a huge plot point, it’s still nice to see all this information out in the open, and it allows us to see a darker, more confrontational side of Richmond. Likewise, his scene with Gwen is powerful and dynamic, making it difficult to find where our sympathies lie.
I must say that one of the most powerful scenes of “Off the Reservation” is also one of the quietest: the scene in which the psychic tries to con Stan. That scene is wonderfully directed and acted, with the audience realizing the disgusting truth right along with Stan. The psychic seduces us simultaneously before pulling the rug away and asking for a “nominal” fee; it was really well done - surprising and effective.
If you can’t tell, I loved this episode. I’m the first to admit that The Killing isn’t always perfect, but it does a lot right. “Off the Reservation” shows the strength of the series and makes me wish the show could deliver hits like this on a weekly basis. Well acted, directed (by series show-runner, Veena Sud), and edited, “Off the Reservation” is easily the strongest episode of Season 2. It pushes the series in a new direction and adds dimensionality to all the major characters, as a great episode should.
Here’s hoping the season continues with the same level of quality. What did you think? As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.