The Killing wrapped up its second season on Sunday night by solving the murder case that took about 26 days to solve in Killing-time, but seemed to take a lot longer to many of us who stuck with it. By the end, you may have felt like Mireille Enos’ Sarah Linden did: Like walking away in an exhausted daze.
SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHO KILLED ROSIE LARSEN.
In the first 15 minutes of the Sunday season finale, we saw that Jamie, real estate developer Michael Ames, and casino boss Nicole Jackson had been colluding to install Darren Richmond as mayor in return for favors and power. Rosie happened to be within earshot, and Jamie knocked her to the ground, bloodied. Telling this tale to Billy Campbell’s Richmond, Eric Ladin’s Jamie mewled, “I was only thinking of you!,” like a spurned lover. His confession was also overheard by Linden and Joel Kinnaman’s Holder, and when Jamie raised a gun to shoot Linden, Holder shot and killed him.
Case closed. Ehhh… not exactly.
With the same slow raindrop water torture that came to characterize The Killing, the hour continued until we arrived at another twist. Rosie didn’t die at Jamie’s hand. She ran into some woods, Jamie found her, beat her for a while, put her in a car. Then he got Ames to drive out to the forest to tell him he had to help him with this problem — he arrived with his girlfriend, Terry, Rosie’s aunt. While they quarreled over who was going to do what to get rid of Rosie, Terry (Jamie Anne Allman, who ended up giving one of the more effectively varied performances of the series) simply drove the car into the nearby water, drowning poor, screaming Rosie. Terry had no idea it was her niece, she just thought she was taking care of some ugly business, hoping that Ames might still leave his wife for her, even though he was saying he’d changed his mind about that to Jamie.
Thus Terry was
, what, an accomplice to murder? First-degree? Anyway, she was the one who was cuffed and hauled away. (Allman made it possible to feel badly for Terry.) The criminals of power — Ames and Jackson — got away with their own sort of murder, last seen meeting with newly elected Richmond.
In between, these revelations, a few loose ends were tied up, but it’s a measure of how slack The Killing had become that most scenes played like time-killers. Richmond had won the election. The Larsens moved into their new home. Mitch, who spent much of the season off on what her sister called “your vision quest,” was part of the family again. That long journey to find herself really was just an aimless riff.
The final episode exhibited many of the flaws that weakened the season. Everyone was sad; everyone felt badly. At best, you’d have to say The Killing had the courage of its downbeat convictions. Story structure, even within each hour, was a problem. It was as though the writers — this night, showrunner Veena Sud plus Dan Nowak — weren’t aware of where the commercial breaks were; scenes just chopped off, and we were subjected to the umpteenth AMC ad telling us we were going to “lose The Killing” if we subscribe to the Dish Network.
“We got the bad guy,” said Holder in the final moments, but like so many flat statements in The Killing, it barely made sense. “Yeah?” said Linden. “Who was that?” Come on, Holder is a guy smart enough to know “the bad guy” wasn’t got. The line felt like a betrayal of the character Kinnaman had worked so hard to bring to life.
In the end, the greatest pleasure of The Killing may have been the stark shots of Mireille Enos’ gaunt face, haunted by doubt, sleeplessness, and her own guilt. At its best, this was a show about the killing of Sarah Linden’s soul.
What did you think about The Killing finale? Want to see Linden and Holder solve another case?