Score another victory for the online streaming industry. To the delight of its hardcore viewers, Netflix revived the twice cancelled television drama, ‘The Killing’ for a six-episode final season. I’ve been a viewer since day one, and even though this show had its ups and downs, I loved it for what it was, and believed that it ended in the best possible way. If you are unfamiliar with the four season, 44-episode show, here’s a quick synopsis:
In the early seasons, the investigation of the Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay) murder seemingly took forever, and the audience was subjected to various storylines that ultimately ended up having nothing to do with the murder or investigation. Every single episode ended with cliffhanger music signifying what would turn out to be a dead end plot point. Season one was actually good, but once the season ended without having a conclusion to the case, viewers jumped ship like it was the Titanic. It was agonizing. Every time I felt progress was being made, they pulled the rug out from underneath me.
Season one was the ultimate woulda, coulda, shoulda television season. At the end of season two, we found out that Rosie’s aunt Terry (Jamie Anne Allman) is the one who actually pulled the trigger and unknowingly killed her niece. This twist was so exciting and unsuspecting, that had it been revealed in the season one finale, the show would have been epic. The decision to drag this storyline out over two seasons cost ‘The Killing’ a chance at real television immortality.
The good parts about those first two seasons was getting to know the main characters, Detectives Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman). They both were broken/flawed individuals who doubled as damn good detectives. I loathed those large necked sweaters (a seemingly never-ending supply) Linden wore, and Holder had too much “swag” for even my liking. No matter their flaws, it worked. Despite a big dip in their ratings, they developed a loyal cult-like following that propelled them into a season three, even after originally being cancelled by A&E.
The last two seasons dealt with the Pied Piper serial killer (mostly season three, but the ramifications of the investigation lingered through season four). Season three ended with Linden killing her lover and boss, James Skinner (Elias Koteas), after finding out he was indeed the Pied Piper. It also ended with a yet another cancellation note from A&E before being picked up by Netflix for the fourth and final season.
This final season was a calamity of train wrecks. I grew more and more angry with each passing episode, because I believed that the characters were acting out of character – So far out that that show had become an entirely different show; something unrecognizable. For instance, in the first episode of season four, “Blood in the Water,” I didn’t like watching Linden convince Adrian (Rowan Longworth) that the man who was following him in the car wasn’t in fact the same man who killed his mother. Linden has always had a conscious; done the right thing; protected the victims; and to see her doing that felt wrong.
I was absolutely livid watching these last six episodes. It seemed silly to me that Linden and Holder were in a position where they were trying to cover up the Skinner murder. To further exacerbate the situation, they were horrible at it! They put the body and car in the lake right outside of his cottage?? What?? Linden was losing her mind because she lost a shell casing in her house that she should have long disposed of? I mean, this was amateur-hour stuff! These world class murder detectives were giving a minor league effort when it came to covering up their crimes.
Throughout this farce of a cover up, I kept saying to myself, “who would care that she shot Skinner?” TV police shoot defenseless bad guys all of the time, and they show up on the next episode like nothing ever happened… why should this situation have been any different? I can’t see any situation in which the public would ever know that such a high-ranking police official was the murderer of one woman let alone more than a dozen. At worst, I believe they would have simply just not allowed her to be on the police force anymore, with no jail time or even charges.
Again, Skinner WAS A COLD-BLOODED serial killer of women. Come on! However, I totally didn’t expect to see the main suspect of the Rosie Larson case Mayor Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) come in and save the day. He basically told Linden that there would be no charges because of all of the reasons I had already thought. The police didn’t want the public to know the truth. A very bad man lost his life – and deserved it. If it wouldn’t have been Linden, it was going to be the state of Washington.
The last ten minutes of the finale epitomized the entire series as a whole. It was slow, deliberate, and yet totally to the point. We found out Holder has a daughter, was the leader of a Narcotics Anonymous group, and had separated from his child’s mother. Linden shows up on her way through town (yeah right, who just “passes through” Seattle) to say hello. In that scene we finally get our first peak at what many hardcore viewers had suspected would happen for four seasons: A romantic relationship between Linden and Holder. Of course Linden resisted, and drove off before dramatically returning right before the ending credits. It was a perfect way to end a show that was never about the murders… it was always about these two broken people finding a little piece of happiness in each other.
This final season even made Slate.com write an article titled, “Even if You Abandoned The Killing, You Should Watch the Final Season”. There was enough drama and intrigue to make up for the overestimation of intrigue during the first two seasons. This drama wasn’t one of the all-time greats, but it had its moments. In the end, ‘The Killing’ was never about the murders… it was about Linden and Holder killing the old versions of themselves and moving on. That part of the story never let the viewers down.