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Wednesday, 21 of August of 2019

The Killing – “What I Know”

“I didn’t know.”

The Killing TitlecardIt’s weird to write about The Killing in this space, not because we haven’t in the past (we have), but because when I think about this finale, and the season as a whole, I don’t separate it from the first season. I think of both seasons actually as a single, 26-episode season. Like, you know, on broadcast TV! Exactly what Veena Sud didn’t want!

This is a little unfair, of course. The Killing strode for something slightly more ambitious than your normal crime melodrama in its effort to show the ripple effect of this single girl’s utterly pointless murder. It wanted to explore the ramifications on the police, the victim’s family, power brokers, and, at least the first season, other people who knew the victim. It most cases, the show was wildly unsuccessful in its attempts to do this as it saw these ramifications as not only subplots but as red herrings into a murder that it, ultimately, never really cared about.

So I’m going to talk about the episode and this season, and then some brief thoughts on where the show can possibly go from here.

I really liked the second season as a whole, but I thought this finale caved into a number painful cliches that undermined much of the season’s strength. After some initial rocky episodes that it had to struggle through due to its season one finale, the season found some footing as it focused the range of the case on the casino, Richmond’s rehabilitation (Billy Campbell has been much stronger here than he was last season), and the Larsens’ continued struggles to stay afloat.

There were fewer nonsensical red herrings (no really ludicrous terrorism silliness) that focus helped the season achieve a more compelling procedural aspect while it offered more room for the relationship between Linden and Holder (and Linden’s son Jack) to flourish in really positive ways. Enos and Kinnaman both turn in excellent performances (as they did last season) and benefit from the stronger character writing they received.

But this episode somewhat damages that positivity for me. I was invested in knowing who killed Rosie (I like cop procedurals, this show has a procedural element, and it was poorly serviced in the first season), but the way the episode goes about revealing it were just painful. Jamie ends up going completely and utterly manic, monologuing/confessing while waving a gun around like he’s some generic killer that’s been broken at the end of Criminal Minds.

It’s painful and frustrating watch, both in the performance and in the writing, neither of which helps the other. While I have no problem buying Jamie being involved with the death of Rosie nor his motives for keeping quiet, but it’s just the actual reveal is just completely ill-executed and not the best way to ultimately start the episode off.

The Terry confession wasn’t as bad, but still felt trapped in the similar kind of cop melodrama that Sud has claimed she wanted to avoid. It could’ve as easily come out of Cold Case as it did here, and not much would’ve been different. I do think that Jamie Anne Allman plays this scene better than Eric Ladin (comparing apples and oranges, I know), and Terry has benefited from clearer, stronger development as well, and that does ease up my dislike of the scene. It feels more earned than Jamie’s breakdown did.

Related to this, however, is when Terry goes and hugs Mitch, sobbing still, and Mich simply stands here, shocked and unable to respond, almost hugging but then not. It is probably the episode’s single strongest moment, and does help make that scene work on a better, more convincing level than Jamie’s breakdown. It’s gut-wrenching, and Michelle Forbes (who still delivers a superb performance this season) plays it really well. I was near tears myself during it.

But what’s next then? Linden does a slow saunter out of the car, through the city at the end, in a moment that I suppose is  supposed to be reflective, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be reflecting here. It’s another moment that feels poorly thought out. Where is Linden walking to as she leaves Holder to answer the next case? Is she going back to her son? Her would have been husband?

The Killing hasn’t been picked up for a third season yet (though I give it a better than likely chance for renewal), and I wonder what the show is after that. For me, I’d like to see The Killing borrow from, of all things, American Horror Story and go to a different location, with different cops, and a different case, and create a sort of anthology cop procedural that changes each season (yes, season, case gets resolved in each season, dammit).

I think this is the idea a lot of people had as the first season was winding down, and I still think it’s a very good idea (obviously). This does, however, retool the notion of how Sud appears to want her show to be. A singular focus on a case does limit the ripple effect approach she seems to favor for the show, but this says more about what I’d like to see than what the creator is necessarily interested in.

One other avenue, which I think I saw on Twitter, is that we stay with Linden and do a “prequel” season of sorts and see the case that first drove her into the psych ward and Rick. Given how engaging I find Enos, and I do find her immensely watchable, I would be okay with this potential third season as well.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I really loved the Rosie flashbacks, and a bit of me wishes that we had these as cold opens all season, similar to how Breaking Bad would often use it cold opens to expand some bits of the past or hint at the future.
  • I felt really bad for Mark Moses, who spent the entire season going through the Frustrated Police Chief motions. What a waste of a talented actor.
  • I didn’t discuss Richmond’s apparent willingness to jump into bed with the waterfront corruption, but, it was a bit disappointing.

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