The last time we checked in on AMC's The Killing was right after its Season 2 premiere. At the time, the show's writers had seemingly learned nothing from the harsh beating they took from critics and fans alike following an open-ended Season 1 finale. But did anything change over the course of Season 2? And now that we're headed into the Season 2 finale, should you bother tuning in this weekend for what might also be the series finale? We've secretly been keeping up with the show all season, and thus we've compiled a handy FAQ to help you decide.
Have they solved the Rosie Larsen murder case yet?
Nope! We're still going strong...and getting close to learning the answer. As Detective Holder told Duck Phillips from Mad Men a few episodes ago: "This goes all the way to the top. This goes all the way to City Hall." (Unfortunately the show's dialogue has not improved.) And AMC's official synopsis for the Season 2 finale, "What I Know," promises to finally deliver the information we expected a year ago: "Sarah and Holder close the case while Richmond sets out on a bold new path. Meanwhile, the Larsen family gains closure from an unsuspected source."
Since the show is only now going to reveal Rosie's killer, will it be around next season?
It's quite obvious at this point that future of The Killing is very much up in the air. After Season 1 wrapped, showrunner Veena Sud tried to calm the masses by promising in interviews that the Rosie Larsen case would be solved and a new case introduced during Season 2. Yet here we are with Rosie's case slated to conclude in the Season 2 finale, and not a hint of a future case to speak of. Without a doubt, The Killing's writers have chosen to put all their eggs in finishing the Rosie Larsen saga and hoping you enjoyed it. So why not tune in?
Has the show improved at all in Season 2?
Well, a little bit. Despite the painfully long wait—25 episodes and counting without an answer to "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?"—Season 2 eventually re-discovered the forward momentum the show completely abandoned in the second half of Season 1. Detective Sarah Linden made the obvious decision to put her life in Northern California on hold to stay in Seattle and continue her investigation. New evidence was quickly uncovered and when one suspect seemed particularly promising, the show did not linger long before revealing the dead end.
This was in stark contrast to the multiple Season 1 episodes spent on red-herring suspects like Rosie's teacher Bennet Ahmed. He definitely had nothing to do with Rosie's murder. So on behalf of Sud, sorry about that multiple-episode arc that ended with Bennet's brutal beating by Stan Larsen. Characterization!
How are Linden and Holder doing these days? Are they still kind of a mess?
In a word, yes. From the beginning, The Killing was a show about the investigation of a murder. But the development of its detectives has been its biggest failure. Each held deep secrets that were only partially revealed in Season 1. For Linden, it was mental instability that began during the investigation of a previously unsolved child murder case. For Holder, it was a drug addiction that nearly cost him his relationship with his family, not to mention his life. But as each backstory was further explored this season, I was left with a strong feeling of...so what? While both characters' shortcomings have led to some bad police work (and even worse parenting), they haven't generated much in the way of audience sympathy.
Don't get me wrong, I like both Linden and Holder. After a full season of awkwardness and a few episodes of distrust, they developed a great chemistry as partners. Despite the apparent importance of stretching out the reveal of these personal demons, they were rarely discussed out loud. Holder nearly went back to drugs, but didn't. Linden was actually forced against her will into a brief stay in a mental institution (yes, really) and did seem a little nutty even after her release to continue to investigate the case despite being suspended from the police. The bottom line is that neither character's backstory truly mattered to the investigation.
Do we even care who killed Rosie at this point?
Look, I know Season 1 was quite cruel to Rosie's reputation. According to the early clues she'd been spending a lot of time hanging out in a shady sex/drug dens in the school basement. Later she was whoring herself out at the Indian casino via an online prostitution service. But no more! It turns out that Rosie was just a maid at the casino (How her parents didn't know where she worked, we'll never know). Plus all the angst toward her parents was somewhat justified by their keeping secrets from her about her real father. Stan raised her as his own, but learning the truth must have changed everything for Rosie.
Linden and Holden have surmised this season that Rosie, set on running away, intended to cap off her final night in Seattle by "saying goodbye" to the city from the tenth floor of the casino, which offered a particularly scenic view. Instead it seems she witnessed a conversation between some political heavy-hitters on that tenth floor, and her unfortunate, wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time situation quickly led to her death in the name of a cover-up. In last week's episode we even got a new glimpse of Rosie, riding the casino elevator up at 1:02am on the night of her murder, a smile on her face. For a character who's been kept mostly off screen, it was a surprisingly touching moment.
Catch me up a little bit; what do I need to know if I'm going to watch the finale just to find out whodunit?
Let's do this bullet-point style:
– Much of the season's investigation focused on the Indian casino run by Chief Nicole Jackson. The casino was Rosie's last known whereabouts and Chief Jackson and her girlfriend/evil henchlady made it clear that no investigation will take place on the reservation grounds by beating Detective Holder unconscious and leaving him for dead (it's cool, Detective Linden found him and he was somehow recovered roughly two episodes later).
– Last season's great political hope, mayoral-candidate-turned-murder-suspect Darren Richmond was shot at point-blank range and is now paralyzed from the waist down. He decided, however, to continue his campaign and has often cited a man named Ted Wright—the grandfather of his campaign manager Jamie Wright, who was able to persevere after an amputation that resulted from a factory accident—as inspiration for his staying in the race.
– Detectives Linden and Holder discover that Jamie Wright made a deal with real-estate developer Michael Ames to torpedo Seattle Mayor Leslie Adams' waterfront project. This would help Richmond win the election as Adams has focused his entire campaign on the waterfront plans.
– Michael Ames needed Jamie to push papers through the city to get his own real-estate company off the ground in order to separate from his wife and run away with Terry, Mitch Larsen's sister.
– Prior to Rosie's death, a text message was sent from her phone to Michael Ames, threatening to reveal his affair with Terry. Ames' son Jasper took the blame, but we've since learned that Rosie's final phone call may have been to reveal that she had been seen in the casino by Michael Ames.
– Ames had mobster Janek Kovarsky (Stan Larsen's former boss) send one of this thugs to plant Native American bones on the construction site to ensure the project would be halted.
– This elaborate bone-planting plan was apparently hatched at the Indian casino, on the tenth floor. Linden and Holder have tape of the individuals who attended the meeting, where Michael Ames met with Chief Jackson...and Jamie Wright, who really stared at the security camera in a creepy way so that it was clear the writers want us to believe he's the killer.
– Rosie Larsen just happened to be on the casino's tenth floor, which was closed for renovations. Linden believes Rosie was saying goodbye to the city before she ran away for good and just happened to witness this confidential meeting. Wrong place, wrong time.
– Without the waterfront project, the mayor's re-election campaign was doomed. So he had a doctored photo of Darren Richmond created to frame him for the murder of Rosie Larsen, which would eliminate his only roadblock to re-election. But the mayor, it seems, had nothing to do with Rosie's murder.
Got all that? Okay, one last twist:
– At the end of last week's episode, Darren Richmond received a strange phone call on election night, summoning him to an unknown location where an old man had something to tell him. "If you are who you say you are, prove it," Richmond said. Moments later, Jamie arrived on the scene...but what does it MEAN? We only recently learned that Jamie still lives with his grandfather, who he's described to Richmond as an amputee who persevered to earn back everything he had lost. Richmond has used that story repeatedly on the campaign trail. Proving what exactly? I'm not sure. But in the final scene last week, Richmond asked, "Why did you lie to me Jamie?"
Who do you think is going to be the killer?
Here are our suspects:
L to R: Jamie Wright, Chief Jackson, Michael Ames, Gwen Eaton.
Jamie Wright: Suddenly, and unexpectedly, our top suspect, despite being the only person to stay and care for Richmond while he recovered from his shooting. If Jamie was involved in Rosie's killing for political gain, only to see Richmond unable to run for mayor, his motivation to make sure Richmond's rehab went well makes a lot of sense.
But more importantly, Holder discovered that Jamie went to the gym at 4:37am on the night Rosie was murdered. And the security guard who let him in said Jamie didn't have his keycard. The show has worked very hard in the last few episodes to have all signs point to Jamie. Which certainly means it wasn't him, right?
Chief Jackson: A political power player sitting atop a casino-gaming throne. An accomplice in the cover-up of Rosie's death? Certainly. But a killer? Unlikely. When surveillance video surfaced that showed Sarah Linden leaving the casino having pocketed importance evidence—a keycard from City Hall—Jackson hopped on the phone to call a mystery person and announce, "They've got your keycard." Doesn't seem like our killer.
Michael Ames: He's the real-estate developer who apparently was at the center of a political scandal in order to run away with his mistress, and Mitch Larsen's sister, Terry. I'm afraid he may really be our killer, which would be a bit boring. Ames' awful son Jasper knew Rosie and is creepy. And Ames has plenty of reason to dislike Rosie if he believed the blackmailing text message really came from her.
The writers could of course really throw us for a loop and make Terry, Rosie's aunt, the killer. After all, the events of the night of Rosie's death prevented Ames from running away with her. Last week Terry happened to see the photos of Rosie's body hidden in a stolen police file in Stan's desk, but she reacted in horror, as you'd expect a relative to. Let's call her the wildcard suspect.
Gwen Eaton: Daughter of Senator Charles Widmore (I can't think of Alan Dale as anyone else at this point). The other Richmond campaign staff member the show has pointed us toward as a suspect, but she didn't attend the all-important casino meeting. She's a cutthroat political mind, but considering she helped Linden and Holder get their warrant to search the casino where a keycard leading to Richmond's offices was found (greatly narrowing down the suspect list), she'd be a pretty dumb murderer. Yet she did drive the car in which Rosie's body was found on the night of the murder. And that car did make it to the casino on the same night...
All told, it's entirely possible that The Killing is about to flip the script again and reveal a completely unexpected killer. As Linden recently pointed out, Rosie died alive. Men tend to be violent killers, whereas women often use poison or other non-violent means. Rosie's death is consistent with the latter. So where does this leave us? I'll take Gwen as my top choice. With Aunt Terry as the wildcard backup.
Did you watch any of The Killing's second season? If so, what are your predictions for the finale? If you started the season but ultimately didn't stick with it, what made you finally throw in the towel?