Is Pastor Mike the killer Linden and Holder have been looking for? Or is he just a murderer that's coincidentally similar? Or is he an innocent man wrongly accused?
The evidence against the shepherd of lost children certainly seems rather damaging, but then again, so was the evidence against Ray Seward. And he (as far as we know now) isn't guilty of his crimes.
It's tough. On one hand, the show does such a good job of leading the viewer along on the hunt. At the same time, with the clues and leads pointing fingers at the best possible suspect, you can't help but want to give the exact same angry attitude and stares that Holder gives to Pastor Mike.
Using a fake name and ultimately falling into the same line of work "helping" kids; having a criminal past, but one that ended up getting thrown out leaving him free to roam; and a witness who saw Pastor Mike bloody, along with a car soaked with the red stains all adds up to "here's the bad guy."
Plus, having Pastor Mike creepily talk to Lyric (who's quiet responses and teary eyes made the moment even worse), and then hiding out in Linden's car to put a knife to her throat don't exactly scream "I'm innocent."
And yet... I can't help but recall The Killing Season 1, when the evidence began to build around Darren Richmond, the political candidate. Even certain lines of dialogue or having him appear in the dark behind Linden to confront her about finding out his secret helped things seem like the logical conclusion that he was the killer.
Except he wasn't.
Now, does that mean that Pastor Mike not being the killer would make me upset? Not at all - and, sure, he could end up being the killer all along.
Yet, when it comes down to it, I feel like the journey of The Killing Season 3 has been a gripping ride, allowing for the actual final reveal to be that extra great aspect associated with this show.
If anything, learning all the new secrets about the so-called "good guy" Mike has revealed a lot about his character, the girls who hang out there with him, as well as Linden and Holder's dedication to the case.
Even more, we've gotten to see Linden's ex-boyfriend (now scruffy) a little more overly attached to her than we thought before. But Linden's true love is to her work.
And while Ray Seward's role is running parallel, we really get to capture a character coming to terms with his fate and falling apart because of it. It was great to watch him try and verbally battle prison guard Becker like he couldn't care before trashing his cell and lying quiet on the floor.
Seward still maintains some level of creep factor while making you care for him.
It's even interesting to see Becker on the opposite side of the prison bars, trying to be a good father, but it was a little morbid showing his son the execution that Seward was attempting to prepare himself for. Not the best bonding choice.
I'm really enjoying the characters involved and I love that even if the show revels in the slow burn, the case moves along.
Now, will a sign of hope break through the clouds at some point? So far it's been pretty gloomy, even if Holder still manages to crack enough jokes to make you smile. It's even funny when people keep asking him what he's wearing now that he's back in his hoodie.
The final cliffhanger for "Hope Kills" wasn't truly necessary and I could have been okay with Linden and Holder walking away disappointed. Yet I completely get adding it as a factor to keep in that "gasp" final moment. I've got a feeling next episode will allow Pastor Mike to give some more explanation, or maybe Holder is going to have to rescue his partner.
As for now, everything keeps chugging along at a solidly positive and compelling pace. Each move made, clue uncovered and character explored on The Killing has got me coming back for more.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.