The Killing's Season Finale: Disappointment of the Year

The only thing I enjoyed about the season finale of The Killing was the equally outraged reaction it inspired in other TV critics and fans. Remember, this was a series we all felt excited about: It gripped me from the first episode. Even as my interest wavered midway through the season—to the extent that I no longer felt inclined to write about the show—I held out some hope that the show might be saving up for a big finish. The season finale would somehow win me back! Which was pretty naïve, but hey, I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy.

To say Sunday’s episode was disappointing is a colossal understatement. And no, I’m not just saying that because we still don’t know who killed Rosie Larsen, though the non-reveal did contribute to my raised blood pressure. The Killing screwed its audience over and over again, with a season finale that reinforced just how little the audience matters to executive producer Veena Sud. You can, in fact, satisfy viewers and still leave things open-ended, but that’s not what happened here.

My disappointment with The Killing has forced me to question whether I will ever be satisfied by a TV mystery, because they seem pretty lose-lose on all fronts. If the case takes too long to solve, the show is slow. If it's solved quickly, there’s not enough build-up. If the killer is the main suspect from the throughout, the big reveal is too obvious. If it’s a total surprise, then the show has done a poor job of dropping clues. Was The Killing always going to be a letdown?

That’s a question I’ll continue to ponder, but there were certainly other ways to wrap up the first season that would have been far better than this. I was dubious at the end of last week's penultimate episode, when it looked like Richmond was the culprit—the killer unmasked before the season finale? But like many others, I guessed there might be some last-minute twist: Perhaps Gwen or Jamie murdered Rosie to cover up Richmond’s indiscretion. Fine. Not groundbreaking television, but at least a bit of a surprise and, more importantly, a sense of closure.

Instead, we got the half-hearted “reveal” that Richmond didn’t do it after all. Who did? No clue—but Holder is somehow involved. And that is the moment I went from annoyed to irate. Holder has been the standout character this season. (I would have said it was Mitch after the first few episodes, but surely not at this point. More on her momentarily.) His character was developed better than the whole rest of the cast's, and part of the thrill was watching his transformation from sleazy cop to decent-guy-with-issues. And now—surprise!—he was dirty all along? It’s insulting to take us on this journey with him, only to close the series with a last-minute reveal that rewrites everything.

Mitch turned out to be a disappointment, too, which is a travesty given Michelle Forbes’ undeniable talent. The Killing took place over 13 days—not nearly enough time for a grieving mother to move past the loss of her daughter. I never expected to see her do so, but I did long for some sort of character development, some hint that she was in transition. Instead, we got the same sad, sunken Mitch in every episode, until she just stopped being interesting. When she showed up in the finale, I actually sighed. And now we’re supposed to care that she’s up and left her family? Does it really matter at this point?

Like many others, I feel as though I’ve wasted too much of my time. Not knowing who killed Rosie is frustrating, but admitting that I devoted energy to these characters and their stories was even worse. I should have stopped watching when the Bennett Ahmed story turned out to be a distraction, and yet, I soldiered on. And for what? I just spent an hour watching Linden and Holder scour gas stations, and all I really know about who killed Rosie Larsen is that I won’t be tuning in to Season 2 to find out.

What did you think of the finale? Are you groaning at the thought of The Killing coming back for Season 2? Are you upset we didn't find out who killed Rosie? Or did you love the show's "twists" and the cliffhanger and think the internet simply whines too much?

Follow writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

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