by Alex Greenberger
Somewhere between its impressive pilot, which now premiered a year and several months ago, and “What I Know,” the second season finale, “The Killing” shed approximately 900,000 viewers that it never won back. I feel that I do not need to explain the reasons why this show spun out and never regained traction. For that, you can read all my previous reviews—they should be sufficient summaries for why this show should have ceased to exist a while ago.
But, as this is certainly my final review of “The Killing,” if not simply because this show is doomed (I’m 99% certain “The Killing” is fated to be cancelled, and I feel that Veena Sud knew this as well), I feel it is necessary to perform an autopsy report on what very well could have been a half-decent show.
“What I Know” tells us something we wanted, and probably even needed, to know at the end of the first season—that Jamie killed Rosie Larsen. Though I suppose that’s up to interpretation. Technically speaking, it was Terry who unknowingly drove a car that held Rosie in its trunk into a lake. An accidental death that we trudged through 26 episodes to see. Yes, you read that correctly.
But does it matter? Now, 25 episodes after the pilot, I understand the Richmond campaign’s purpose—it was merely to have Jamie be the killer. Really, if you think about it, that storyline serves no purpose. And here’s an even bigger, more threatening offense– the first season doesn’t matter at all. I could’ve skipped the first 13 episodes (and then the first seven of this season, if I was really in a hurry), and I could’ve still understood the mystery. My ire cannot be expressed in words, so I will leave it at this–Veena Sud, this is all your fault.
Oh, Veena Sud, what have you done? You couldn’t even make the flashbacks that detailed Rosie’s death seem disturbing. Without spoiling “Twin Peaks” again (I did it once before in a review), I’m just going to say that the flashback showing Laura Palmer’s murder is immensely disturbing. I am still perturbed by the way David Lynch directed such a haunting sequence, one that begs its viewer to question how a human could commit such a grievous crime.
The flashbacks in “What I Know” are, on the other hand, largely pointless, as they tell its viewer things that either Jamie or Terry detail in their admissions of guilt. Long gone is any sense of dread from the pilot or any gripping suspense. It’s all very blunt, almost as though Sud feels it necessary to beat her viewer over the head with her writing just as Jamie repeatedly brings a flashlight down upon Rosie.
And as much as I hate to admit it, “The Killing” has had its emotional moments, most of which deal with the aftermath of a trauma. The pilot is full of them—it’s probably too full of them, as a matter of fact, because at times, the first season feels awfully melodramatic. But then we have a polar opposite in “What I Know,” which is devoid of emotionally wrought moments. In the last ten minutes, the viewer is subjected to watching the Larsen family gather together to watch a film that Rosie made shortly before she died.
The film, from which the episode’s title takes its name, is meant to put a tear in each of our eyes. Don’t you just miss Rosie so much? I, for one, know I don’t. The series lost me a long time ago in a meandering journey that could have been condensed into five episodes, maybe ten, if I’m being generous. That’s what I know.
And what of Linden and Holder’s partnership? Well, that ends on a sour note, too, with a falsely poetic act in which Linden realizes she’s done enough, and the case is finally solved. Whoop-dee-doo. Now can Linden change her sweater please?
I’m going to have to pull a Linden here and depart as viewer from “The Killing.” The only difference is that, unlike Linden, I have no intention of returning. This autopsy report finds “The Killing’s” cause of death to be largely due to poor writing at the hands of Veena Sud. Were it not for lush cinematography and layered performances from most of the cast, “The Killing” could have died a much faster, painless death. Sud’s writing unfortunately dealt “The Killing” a hard blow, and “What I Know” was that last stab it needed to finish it off.
And now we pause for a moment of silence for “The Killing,” a show I will not return to, even if it does get a miraculous renewal. May it rest in peace.
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.