It's easy to enjoy Joel Kinnaman portray Holder with his cool precision, whether he's letting Linden know he's not going to try and kiss her again... angrily wasting beer cans... or helping another little man out. Time and time again, whether he dominates an episode or appears for a few scenes, the hoodie-wearing character is one of the biggest draws that makes The Killing stand out.
And yet, while the serial chiller was more background in "Six Minutes," Peter Sarsgaard and Mireille Enos got to lay out a smorgasbord of emotion that was captivating down to the final shot.
A good portion of the episode was a lot like a volleyball match: a back and forth between the two characters on opposite sides of the glass. Seward killed his wife. Seward didn't kill his wife. There will be a stay of execution. There won't be a stay of execution. Linden wants to talk and Seward doesn't.
Plus, I'm sure picking up and putting down the phone while every so often entering and leaving the room can get tiring all on its own. Then imagine a death clock amping up the tension.
It's funny because I can recall back with the pilot, when Linden was so unnerved and reserved, yet three seasons later and she's passionately determined and more in your face than ever before.
Sure, it's a lot less about doing it for Seward and more about dealing with a guilty conscience, the concept of letting an innocent man die and allowing a son (for her, someone she feels on her end she's lost and/or given up) to see his father, even if it's one last time.
And really, there's plenty of range for Enos as Linden in both the previous episode, "Reckoning," and this go around. Even with Seward remaining difficult and the system being complicated, she still fights.
Yes, Linden eventually walked and Holder gave a great speech in calling her out about running away, but it spurred her back in. A great move from a great partner.
Certainly, I can say that not only this being the show that it is, but the expectations of some grand twist in the final hours of an episode, I kept waiting for that miracle ball to drop and everything get wrapped up with a neat little bow.
And while the back and forth grew a bit long, especially with my waiting for some big reveal, those final moments when Seward was preparing to see his son sucked me right back in. Sarsgaard mastered the role of Seward eliciting his own variety of character including his violent anger, his regrettable sadness and his ability to act like a jerk even with his life on the line.
I can't say I found Seward to be a likable guy, although those few moments where some goodness shined through rounded out the character beyond some stereotypical maniac. But boy was it a haunting, freighting, and sorrowful end for the man.
The way in which the walk towards the execution felt so drawn out heightened the severity of what was about to occur. Match that with Seward's look of fear for that inevitable death. I knew that phone was going to ring and save him at the last second.
Except it didn't - and the trap door dropped and along with it Seward to a horrifying ending for a character gasping and gurgling while the camera stuck on Linden's watching face.
It was a bold move for the show, especially with him being (presumably) innocent. And I believe he was, but I can't help but wonder who murdered his wife still.
Something is up with at least one of the prison guards, right? Henderson seemed pretty at ease placing the bag of Seward's head while the tough guy Becker couldn't stomach it.
What a way powerful way to end things and once again, on less than a cheery note. I'm still a bit speechless by that conclusion and surprised Seward didn't live. The Killing is really outdoing itself this year, and I'm looking forward to seeing the season finale finish out on a high note.
Let's just say that I'm not going to be able to look at Salisbury steak quite the same way again.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.