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Why AMC’s The Killing Is Killing Me

Not the reaction a season-long whodunit should generate when the murderer is finally revealed: "You're kidding me, right?"

Andrew Klavan


August 9, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Okay, I know I’m not the only person who had this experience. Watched the first season of The Killing. Loved the characters, the actors, the ambience. Got caught up in the story. Reached the last episode. Got so pissed off by the cheat that I vowed never to watch it again and to take the Mireille Enos mask off my inflatable companion…  although maybe that’s too much information.

Enough people seemed to feel this way that AMC canceled the show after the second season — then they rethought that decision when Netflix and DirecTV threatened to put it on instead. So they put on a third season. And I thought, “Oh, okay, I’m a gentle, peace-loving, forgiving guy. I can’t hold a grudge forever.”

So I watched the third season. And I loved the characters, the actors, the ambience. Got caught up in the story. Reached the last episode…

You’re kidding me, right?

Let me say up front, there was a lot of good stuff all the way through. Strong writing. Great scenes. And I do think Enos is terrific as the troubled homicide detective. And beautiful, despite everything they do to try to make her look plain. And Joel Kinnaman, who plays her partner, turns in a performance of such depth and charm that he clearly deserves the same success here he had in his native Sweden. And kudos to Peter Sarsgaard for a powerful turn as a guy on death row.

That last episode though. Woof. Bad. Really bad. Contrived, unbelievable. It’s one thing when the killer is “the last person you’d suspect,” but another when it’s the last person you’d suspect because he/she just wouldn’t have done it! Also, it’s truly annoying when one of the very few believable female cops on television suddenly starts acting like a ditzy girl in a sitcom, all flustered and irrational and governed by emotion, not like a cop at all, just so the writers can maneuver her into a suspenseful position. Plus if you’re going to steal the end of a movie, try not to make it one of the most famous ends of a movie ever. The whole final episode felt like they’d written it in a hurry, not knowing the resolution until the last minute.

Look, it’s a season-long mystery. We’re watching to find out whodunnit. Great characters, great setting — all well and good — but you gotta deliver on that last show! I’m writing to AMC to ask that they return thirteen hours of my life. Not at the end either. I want them when I’m 27. It’s only fair. The Killing is killing me.


Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

Andrew Klavan’s newest novel is Nightmare City.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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You are exactly right. The writers let the viewers AND the actors down. Holder's character was outstanding. Bullet stole the show as an angry and doomed street urchin.

The way it was written in the heart of the show was great...then the writers wimped out with the worn WORN out "the cop did it" bullhockey ending. Why did the cop do it? Why did he snap? What background gave the character, a man who had no indications of sociopathic behavior his entire life, suddenly become the modern version of the BTK killer? I could do better.

Why always the cop? Why not somebody like a real child killer? And her killing him and Holder being upset. Trust me, nobody there would be upset and the autopsy will be clean, no issues on the angle of bullet trajectory showing he was on his knees. Nobody would want to make this any crazier than it was already.

As for her melting down. She had sex with him, loved him, saw him as the ultimate good guy- and he killed little girls. Yes, the meltdown was fine, especially after NDE she had. Not covering the guy as she did it, knowing he's a killer. Not likely. He'd be handcuffed to the car.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
with apologies to Anthony Weiner, it gives new meaning to the prase "Peter Out"...
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
writers with no ability to close a show and stay consistent with characters and plot, a terrible failure.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought the season was great but for the finale. If it had ended with the penultimate episode, it was have been much more believable.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the last scene faded to black, my wife and I looked at each other and said: "WTF?"
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
On the photo of Enos: nice but painfully obvious lip job.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look, the conclusion is unavoidable: Open-ended TV series that are heavily "arced," with stories more like long novels than like shorter tales connected by a few character-centered running issues, cannot help but disappoint. Look at Lost. Consider Twin Peaks. You can't have a story simultaneously plotted out beginning-to-end AND also have open-ended seasons. The only way it can work is either: A) There is no endpoint, no necessary resolution to the plot, or B) EVERYTHING is written out in advance, and will not go beyond that point no matter what the ratings say. That's what I think.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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