Five or so years later, Holder's adorable daughter Kalia is trash-talking his vegan cupcakes and his scratchy goatee (chip off the old block). He puts her on the bus to school and promises to pick her up at her mom's on Saturday. Can't say I'm surprised Holder and Caroline didn't make it, but he seems to have gotten his s--- together, just like Linden always urged. Holder walks outside during a break from his new job (he's leading an NA group) and spies his former partner. He greets her with a signature, "Ohhhhh snap! 1-900-LINDEN, dial and you shall receive!" She greets him with a warm smile and a callback quip about her Ross Dress for Less 3-for-1 rack scarf. Linden catches him up on her life (she's been traveling, Jack's in college and very tall), and Holder asks, "So did you find him in all your travels... the bad guy?" She realizes only now that "there is no bad guy. There's just... I don't know... life." Says Holder, "We tried at least."
Holder wonders, then, why she's really here. Linden admits she never felt like she had a home growing up or as an adult; looking back, she realizes their partnership was home to her, that he was her best friend. She apologizes for not trusting him or realizing he would never betray her. She says she's only passing through, but he ask her to stay—playfully at first, then with an undercurrent of real yearning. This is when the sexual tension surging through this scene became most apparent. I'd been feeling it, second-guessing myself, then feeling it some more. But the mood shifts with Holder's clean-and-sober plea. It's a completely different dynamic than season 3's clumsy almost-kiss, which was borne of his grief and her maternal instinct. Now they stand on even (and much more stable) ground.
Linden resists the urge to stay and try to recapture what they had. She calls Seattle a "city of the dead." Holder challenges her to close her eyes so she can finally see "what's standing right in front of you. It ain't ghosts, Linden. It ain't the dead." Never much of a dreamer, still slightly unwilling to trust, Linden succumbs to the urge to flee. Maybe partially because she knows this would be the perfect time for him to kiss her, maybe because she's scared this thing could work... or scared it wouldn't. But Holder grabs her so their eyes meet one more time. Hers are wide open, unwilling to close. Holder relents, gives her a long, tight hug, and lets her go. But he walks behind the car to watch Linden drive away. Class-A move, Holder. Swaggin' 'til the end.
Linden has a localized Claire Fisher moment to The Jezabels' "Peace of Mind." Driving around Seattle, she relives the horrors and triumphs of the past, even recreating the series' emblematic opening-credits shot. And, for once, she seems at ease. A bit later, Holder leaves his meetings for the night. He pauses in disbelief as he sees Linden has returned. She gets out of her car, he walks nearer, they both let hopeful smiles spread across their faces, and... cut to black.
I have to say, the chemistry was always there, but the flash forward to the open-ended possibility of romance was... unexpected. Don't get me wrong: It was great to see Mireille Enos smile, and even better to see Joel Kinnaman-as-Holder looking clean and healthy. It's an interesting thread to toy with: Perhaps in a world where Linden and Holder genuinely do have it together, a relationship between them could work. But do I want to see that show? What made their connection compelling was the polarity at work—their most excellent selves and their most flawed selves, grappling and shifting to accommodate one other. Oh hell, I suppose Seattle has to be sunny sometimes, too. Take it away, Jane Siberry.