Previously: Belko Royce went on a depressing killing spree, Mitch Larsen finally found a way to make her home an even drearier place, Linden was passive-aggressive with Holder some more, Richmond's in a wheelchair so he'll have even more things to whine creepily about, and we learned that the photo conspiracy involves Holder's old mentor Sherriff Gil Sloane, and thence Richmond's political rival the Mayor.
Stan Larsen spends the day feeling emasculated once Rosie's Killer drops off her blood-covered backpack on their front porch like some kind of existential flaming dog turd. Holder -- informing him about Belko's suicide on top of everything else -- promises some patrol cars, but they never appear -- because Oakes blocks them or because the Larsens creep the cops out like they creepy everybody out, it's never made clear. Only when the boys start making their own weapons does Stan throw one of his fits, and when that doesn't work, he goes to a sturdy sneaky murderer named Janek. Since Stan seems to think that everybody murdered his daughter, I'm not sure hiring a killer to find and kill the murderer of his daughter is a great idea. But hey, without Belko around to trick into killing everybody, I guess you have to have a new plan.
Holder (with Gil Sloane in tow) takes the backpack to Lieutenant Oakes's special contact for analysis, but Oakes lies to his face and says there was nothing of further interest. The way he knows that is, he never gave up the backpack in the first place. Where Holder makes his mistake is in taking this information back to Sloane, who explains -- hands up anybody who was surprised how fast this situation went directly into the shitter -- that there is a vast conspiracy in play and that Holder was selected as the patsy because he is so trashy and gross and meth-addict looking that he can play Cassandra all day and nobody will care. Harsh but so true.
Oh, and the doctored photos were recquisitioned under Sarah's badge number, so she should probably stop ignoring Holder's calls now that they are 100% back on the same side. She does some serious investigating this episode, eventually figuring out what happened the night Rosie died, when Richmond took Gwen to that Tacoma B&B: He freaked out about his dead wife, it being their anniversary, and he tried to commit suicide on the bridge where he'd first proposed. And while you're right that that's a shitty move for a boyfriend to do on your first overnight romantic getaway, the larger reason for this massive coverup is that a suicide attempt would damage the campaign. (Or possibly that one more conversation with Darren Richmond about his dead wife would cause everyone to go into a coma and they wouldn't be able to get out there and vote.)
Cut to now, when he's lying in bed with paralyzed legs and a colostomy, and you can understand why he's only moderately able to enjoy the fact that Sarah's buddy, Prosecutor Christina Niilson, has officially dropped the charges against him. Which, in turn, causes the early retirement of Lieutenant Oakes, who was probably doing all of this to protect Linden and Holder anyway, and his replacement by corrupt and unfriendly Lieutenant Carlson, played by Mark Moses! My very favorite! I guess if we had to lose Belko Royce, that's the perfect apology. Not to mention the perfect way to make sure Linden's performance -- both as a cop and as a crazy person -- will actually be supervised in some way by a hostile authority figure. I see this going well.
Overall, the hour was equal parts Sarah's and Jamie's show, as he spends the whole day in hiding from being the one to tell Richmond the extent of his damage, obsessively trying to get Darren's sister into town, grieving over his hero's many losses and also thinking about jumping ship... And eventually coming to blows with Ben Abani, who gets an earful from the Mayor once he's beaten hell out of Jamie, considering how close their evil plan is coming to fruition.
(Also worth noting: The public's mature, reasoned response to learning that the case of Rosie Larsen's murder might take more than twelve days to solve. Not a sexist "incompetence" or a racist "arrogance" accusation to be found. It would seem the internet, in the world of The Killing, is a much calmer and more rational place than what we might know in our own.)
Lieutenant Carlson, forced to put Linden back on the reopened Larsen case, makes sure to saddle her once again with Holder -- who now has more information than he can handle, of course -- but Sarah doesn't know any of that, which is why when, at the end of the day, she decides to supplement her ongoing stellar parenting plan of being homeless with occasional motel stays, and Holder shows up, she still assumes he's on the side of the bad guys and won't let him in or acknowledge him in any way. Tremendously ironic, especially if it is going to result in Holder immediately finding and doing a shitload of meth, which seems like the obvious thing that should happen next.
Stan wakes up on the couch, in the early hours of DAY FIFTEEN, to hear the sound of a music box going somewhere in the house. Because I guess it's true: The Larsen house could always be a little creepier.
Denny: "I was just playing with the music box to calm me down after I heard somebody fucking around outside."
Stan: "I'm sure it was nothing, you little weirdo. Now off to bed, and I'll check for monsters."
Belko: "Perhaps it was simply my ghost. The ghost of Belko Royce."
Stan goes outside with a cricket bat or something, and trips over... Rosie's backpack! Left on the stoop! Covered in blood! The Larsen house could always be creepier!
While Holder bags and tags the backpack and its contents -- which include a Super-8 that nobody knows where it came from, besides the 1980s -- Linden hits up Gwen for some more chatting. Surprise, Gwen is in no mood for her mess.
Gwen: "So now you're fucking telling me that your evidence doesn't add up? I spent the entire last episode covered in blood and now you're saying there was never even a case?" Linden: "Yeah, and I'm sorry about that? But if you could just take me through that night like one more time."
Stan: "So what this tells me is that the killer is still out there. And even more grody than we presumed."
Holder: "For me to agree with you would be to admit my culpability in the arrest, the shooting, Belko's whole deal..."
Stan: "My kids aren't safe. You need a patrol car on us, all the time. I'm not even taking them to school."
Holder: "I have an outsized concept of my own departmental importance, so I will promise you that."
Stan: "Hold up, what were you saying about Belko? What did that little sweetheart do now? You guys roughed him up pretty good before -- did you get him a doctor? How is the structural integrity of his face and head doing?"
Holder: "Oh, damn it."
As we know, they were staying in a Tacoma B&B that night, romantically, and he got up and left sometime after midnight, then came back in the early hours dripping on the carpet. He shucked his wet clothes, refused to talk about it -- never looked back; Orpheus Rising -- and they fucked.
Gwen: "Now he is, of course, paralyzed from the waist down. But that morning, he was... Different, more present. More preoccupied. I didn't feel like I was competing with Lily, or whoever usually was on his mind. He smelled like he does after kayaking, in the morning. Briny, not sweaty. I could taste the salt on his neck."