The Killing Series Finale: A Review… Of Why It Sucked

You heard me right: The series finale of The Killing sucked. Like, deeply. Mr. Max summarized our reaction best:

  • It was awful.
  • It was the worst.
  • It ruined everything.

We both love(d) the show, so this is a bit of a downer. In order to work through our sadness, we spent a long drive discussing exactly what went wrong and how it could be fixed. Warning: spoilers abound.

What Went Wrong Part 1: I got 99 Problems and Plot IS one of Them
I’ll start with the big one: letting Linden off via a huge, sloppy deus ex machina. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that the mayor – ANY mayor – has the ability to magically disappear a murder investigation? Because, I dunno… elections? And what about the police department? How can we be sure that no one — not even some snappy young detective ten years in the future — EVER reopens the case? What about if/when Skinner’s angry family demands their own autopsy? Or when they start doing DNA tests? For the love of pete, are we supposed to believe that ONE sentence from Billy Campbell is all it takes to get someone off the hook for murder?

Next, there’s the family stuff. Linden and the Colonel are dealing with similar mother-child issues. I get that they were trying to make a parallel here between these women, but the problem is that these issues feel a little TOO similar. It’s so literal that it’s just not believable.

Along the same lines, I was majorly disappointed by the side plot with Linden’s birth mother. I almost fell out of my chair when they had her deliver that cheesy dig, “I think we’re a lot alike.” Because… apparently Linden’s mom is a villain from a Batman movie?

As far as the military school storyline goes, they had an interesting idea but screwed it up towards the end. The “It’s his mom!” thing was lame. Having a criminal revealed as the person everyone first suspected is tired. And giving a character amnesia is lazy and feels like something out of Megan Draper’s bad soap opera in Mad Men.

Last but certainly not least, we can’t forget the cringetastic tacked-on romance between Linden and Holder. We both groaned aloud as soon as these two started smiling and flirting and exchanging awkward, completely out of character dialogue. Why??

Linden does not smile! No!

What Went Wrong Part 2: Truth is Stranger than Fan Fiction
A lot of the weak plot stuff could have been forgiven had they avoided the temptation to write wish-fulfillment fan fiction. But they just had to go there. They had to throw in an unrealistic romance (Holder and Linden), bring back an old character (Billy Campbell, for 30 seconds), show someone’s future kid as a cutesy mini-me (Holder’s kid…whatever her name was), and tie things up with a cheesy, unnecessary epilogue. Please stop listening to Internet fans, writers. It’s the road to perdition.

I Fixed It For You


Here’s how the ending should have gone down. We pick things up just after the (excellent and powerful) scene where Skinner’s car is being pulled from the lake.

Re: the military school plot: All 3 boys end up being involved in the crime. Main kid is motivated by hatred of his abusive father. The other two want to kill the mom because she rejected them. Main kid goes catatonic after killing the dad and can’t remember anything. Little sister is killed by accident or by the other kids, with ensuing angst. Colonel is NOT the main kid’s mom but does orchestrate the cover-up, relating it to her experience killing civilians in war. She gives some sort of impassioned speech about the meaning of it all before they haul everyone away.

Linden solves the case but also gets caught/arrested for killing Skinner. However, it turns out that others in the department knew about Skinner and did nothing. In order to protect themselves, the police cover up everything, including Linden’s involvement. The Chief of Police tells Linden she is being given a second chance. She has no choice but to take it.

The last episode ends with a callback to the first: Linden’s retirement party. We see cake plates being thrown away and Linden closing her office door. Someone murmurs that she is moving closer to her son. She drives to the airport and we see her hesitate, then look back one last time at the city of Seattle before boarding the plane. THE END.

And we came up with that in like 15 minutes in a car. While driving.
You can do better, writers!

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2 comments
  1. Lena Webb said:

    I loved The Killing so much that I almost died when Ray Seward did. Season 3 was amazing, and I re-watched it (except the one where Ray Seward dies) before season 4… happened.

    Your assessment is, sadly, spot on, and knowing you I feel like you’re even going a bit soft on it. It’s because the show was good to us and it deserved better. All those delicious sweaters and true grit. But seasons 1-3 exist for us to love, and this season exists for us to grind through our powerful collective hate machine (NIN?).

    From the top:

    The BUMBLING. In the first episode I was expecting Linden and Holder to be frantically rushing around the same corner and smack into each other, Stooge-style. This continues throughout the season in the form of gross criminal incompetence, my favorite bit of which is when Linden flings Skinner’s phone into the lake… like, 5 feet from the shore. No dredging team necessary, just need a toddler with a bucket. Another gaffe involving the phone is that, before she flings it, she is stroking love selfies of her and Skinner on the screen of a smartphone and when they hold the evidence baggie up to her face in the interrogation room it is some kind of ancient bar phone.

    Positive side: Ms. Enos couldn’t have done a better job acting like someone who is just SO fucked up about shit. The sobbing, the bursts of anger, the look of total depletion, the chapped lips (my mom’s work friend pointed out that everyone in the show had chapped lips the whole time).

    The SEXUAL MILITARY BRAINWASHING. I felt like I was watching a Lifetime movie during the stupid boarding school parts. Are we really supposed to believe that being forced to masturbate onto a picture of your mom while like, 5 people yell “kill her” *ONE TIME* is going to push someone over the edge to the extent that they murder their whole family? And yeah, Col. Rayne was too much. The whole thing was like “Flowers in the Manchurian Attic.” I actually *still* don’t have a solid grasp of why the family was killed, because of all this stupid crappy motherboylove. What was that crap about putting weird religious-looking ropes on the doorknobs? Jesus! 100% Lifetime. It’s like… what was that shitty book we read in Myra’s class about the boarding school? The Chocolate War? It’s like “War of the Chocolate Flowers in the Manchurian Attic.”

    The DUHSVILLE LINDEN-COL. RAYNE POWERFUL-WOMAN-WITH-MISGUIDED-MATERNAL-INSTINCTS PARALLEL. You nailed it with the maternal bit. My favorite moment, and the moment that *I* groaned was when Col. Rayne spells out what all the critics of the show have been complaining about by saying something like “I’m surprised that a woman in your position of power, Detective Linden, would let their emotions cloud their judgment.” Yeah, yeah. Like when she blew two holes in her serial killer lover. Duh. She should have had an iron fist clenched around that squirming baggage. Had sex and was in love with a child-killing pervert sociopath. No biggie.

    Positive side: the image of Skinner’s car is not only awesome like you mention, but harkens back to Rosie Larsen!

    The NEIGHBOR WHO WAS TAKING THOUSANDS OF PICTURES OF THE DAUGHTER. He just disappears! My mom pointed this out. I don’t think he even gets arrested! I guess if the family isn’t alive to press charges…? Weird.

    No comment on Linden + Holder = Luv. Just, no. Fine, I’ll say that it breaks a *VERY IMPORTANT* crime drama rule: NO PARTNER LOVIN’. You can love your partner as a best friend/lifesaver/confidant/companion and maybe harbor secret romantic fantasies, but you must FOCUS ON THE CRIME above all! It’s why we like watching detective partnerships on television– they are unique relationships. Ugh. I hope Linden goes back to working on that boat.

    I’ll do my alternate ending now (don’t worry, it’s short):

    Linden does not fire the second shot and they bring Skinner in. He’s convicted and sentenced to death. Linden and Holder pull some strings to get Skinner to accidentally check the “hanging” box on his “how do you want to die” forms. Linden and Holder are heroes for finding the pied piper and are promoted beyond their wildest dreams and adopt Adrian and never kiss each other.

  2. Mike Adams said:

    My mother and I just finished watching the series and we absolutely loved it. She’s always wanted those two to get together. I disagree. Her attachment issues and his weakness for drugs makes it a disaster waiting to happen! LOL! Other than that, we do think that they should have showed Rosie Larsen’s parents. We still feel terrible for them.

    As to the plot, we were both so surprised when it turned out that the kid did it. Wow. Did not see that one coming. The whole thing was a bit contrived, the Colonel in cahoots with those two? I mean come on! The next season should definitely resolve her motivations. Also, it’d be tough to cover up Linden’s murder of her boss/lover/pied piper. It’s things like this that make me think that Obama and Hillary really are covering up something sinister in Benghazi.

    The scene when the car is being pulled from the lake was just ok. Our favorite scene was when Holder gave the earring back to that girls mother. THAT was moving.

    I can’t wait to see next season; Linden’s so beautiful when she smiles and (as long as Holder doesn’t “chase the Dragon!!”) it’ll be good to see them kiss finally!

    Good stuff attemptedblog! Keep it up! I can tell by your passion that you’re a good person and you’re doing good work here and in future posts!

    What about a new ending to Hemlock Grove? – another Netflix original and one of our favorites!

    =)-

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