‘The Killing’ Season Finale Review & Discussion

Published 4 years ago by

The Killing season finale reviews amc The Killing Season Finale Review & Discussion

Ever since AMC announced that its mystery-drama The Killing was being renewed for season 2, fans have been keeping one eyebrow arched in curiosity about how the season 1 finale would play out.

Would the hunt for Rosie Larsen’s killer actually come to an end? How would the dead girl’s family find peace? What does councilman Richmond and his campaign have to do with the murder? And, most importantly: Would we find out the answers to any of these questions by the time the end credits rolled on the finale, or would we be left dangling until season 2?

After having seen the season 1 finale of The Killing, I’m about as conflicted as I’m sure many others out there are. The finale pulled a bold move for serialized TV: sold us the illusion of closure for 59 minutes, before pulling the rug out from under us in the last sixty seconds.

I’m honestly not sure how fans are reacting by now. It’ll be really interesting to see what shape our comment thread takes on this one.


The finale episode, titled “Orpheus Descending” picked up with the (somewhat) startling reveal at the end of the penultimate episode: that councilman Richmond knew Rosie Larsen all along, and was seemingly involved in some kind of sexual affair with the underage girl, via an online escort dating service.

Linden is literally standing in the belly of the beast when councilman Richmond’s dark secret is revealed, and the finale began with a wonderfully creepy scene, in which a quietly-panicking Linden is forced to exchange words with Richmond (his face obscured in shadow), before literally having to push past him and escape. Billy Campbell has done a great job with keeping Richmond shaded in so many colors that we’re never quite sure what to make of the guy. He can be noble or (as we found out in this episode) totally scary.

After the big reveal, detectives Linden and Holder work tirelessly to acquire the necessary clues to bring Richmond down. With a new lead, they go back over all the details of the case and Holder uses some surprising mathematical prowess to trace the path the killer drove before executing Rosie, ultimately discovering the woodland trail we saw the doomed girl fleeing down in the opening moments of the season. A few key clues later – the “coffin nail” being a toll booth photo of Richmond that Holder supplies – the councilman looks all but set for the gallows.

Stanley Larsen The Killing season 1 AMCxcf The Killing Season Finale Review & Discussion

Stan Larsen searches for peace.

Meanwhile, Stan Larsen got out of jail for his misguided assault on Rosie’s teacher, Bennett Ahmed, but things at home are still on the rocks, so Stan heads off to do some soul-searching. He visits the still-unconscious Ahmed in the hospital, and while there has an exchange about parenthood with a pregnant woman he doesn’t realize is the wife of the man he’s nearly beaten to death. At home, Stan’s wife Mitch is continuing to have a total meltdown – that is until her own father brings her a scrapbook containing all her former hopes and dreams of a life of travel and experience. Grandpa Larsen reminds Mitch that she and Rosie are very much alike, and this seems to settle the troubled mother’s soul a bit (great scene). Stan returns home after his Odyssey is done, and tries to profess his continued love for his wife and their life together…only Mitch can’t live with all the ghosts around her, and decides to leave and find herself (or something like that). Stan lets her go, with serenity and understanding.

Finally, at the Richmond mayoral campaign, we learn that even though the councilman is gaining significant political ground, skeletons are beginning to tumble out of his closet. A series of affairs come to light, including one with a former aid, which may or may not still be going on (I wasn’t clear on that). Richmond’s current aid/lover, Gwen Eaton, has her heart quietly broken by the realization that she is just another in a long line of Darren Richmond conquests, and that she’ll never really reach his heart, which is seemingly still buried with his dead wife. Her feelings of loyalty shattered, Gwen hands evidence against Richmond over to the police.

The episode ended with a climatic scene of Linden (now half-crazed in her obsession to find Rosie’s killer) confronting Richmond at his mayoral victory rally and slapping the cuffs on him. With justice seemingly done, Linden finally boarded that long-delayed plane for California to be with her fiancee, the conflict between her, her son Jack and his estranged father seemingly settled into a compromise.

The Killing Season 1 Finale Reviews The Killing Season Finale Review & Discussion
Things don’t look good for councilman Richmond.

Oh, but wait, there was one more twist! Just before her plane takes off, Linden gets a call saying no photos from the aforementioned toll booth could be recovered – meaning the big piece of evidence Holder supplied was a fake. We see Holder confirm as much in a secret rendezvous with a mysterious figure. It might not matter, though: just as Darren Richmond is being walked into a police station, the Larsen’s family friend (and secret stalker) Royce storms through the crowd with a big gun pointed right at Richmond. Fade to black.

As I’ve said: I’m not sure how I feel about this finale. It kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the hour, wondering if they were going to truly be able to wrap everything up, or would Richmond wriggle through the cops’ fingers, thereby setting up season 2. As the episode entered the final minutes, I figured I was at the end of the season-long journey (just where I wanted to be). When another layer of misdirection and mystery was dropped on the pile, I was left wondering if I am watching a show that is only getting more brilliant, or one that has just jumped the shark for the sake of stretching out good ratings.

The original Danish version of The Killing wrapped in one season, telling a nice succinct story. This American version threatens to go so deep into mystery and revelation gimmicks that it will potentially eradicate the original structure, which was more of a nuanced slow-burn character drama.

The Killing AMC 8 The Killing Season Finale Review & Discussion

While I can see how the Larsen murder mystery could get more twisted and surprising, I’m not sure that these characters have a lot more to offer. The Larsens’ story arch seems pretty much cooked to perfection; we had a whole episode that probed the depths of Linden and Holder’s respective inner workings (fans were polarized by that hour of the show); and if Richmond is the killer, then his character has been wonderfully complex and multi-faceted.

For me, the season 1 finale of The Killing has basically doubled-down on its bets: by the end of the season 2 premiere, I think I’ll know for certain if I’m still invested in this show, or if it has only managed to kill itself off of my DVR.

What about you, how did you feel about the The Killing ending the season with a whole new string of questions? Would you have preferred that the mystery of Rosie Larsen’s murder got solved?

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  1. To fade to black right before something significant is about to happen is nothing more than a mean “Sopranosesque” taunt to the vieweres. Its one thing to throw a monkey wrench in the mix still leaving the mystery unsolved. But to black out the last scene which may or may not have shown the new “for sure” suspect being murdered is nothing more than cheap. Plus, minus the two detectives, the other characters in the show were not as impressive/multi dimensional and certainly not worthy to watch again for another season. Thanks for wasting my time show. Im tossing the Killing up as a Big Stinker and def not watching season 2

  2. Totally disspointed. Will not watch next season.

  3. It’s a week now since the finale and I feel no different than I did then. I feel cheated, and toyed with. They could’ve wrapped up season 1 by identifying the killer and moved on to a fresh case next season, but no, they have to be cute and ‘Soprano-like,’ and end things the way they did. Well, I for one will not be back next time around. The ‘Sopranos’ ending was one thing, I wasn’t crazy about it, still am not, but they had a great track record to end it the way they wished. This show doesn’t, and shouldn’t have pulled this nonsense. I’m certain there are many who will stay tuned, but count me out.

  4. What I don’t understand is why a show as bad as The Killing is on the otherwise fantastic AMC, but a show with such complex and wonderful writing as Rubicon doesn’t get renewed for a second season.

  5. It’s unfair for any series with one primary plot to betray their faithful viewership by not wrapping it up at the end of the season and beginning the new season with a fresh plot, like “24” always did. If the series’d had weekly subplots that gave viewers closure, i.e. “The Fugitive” or “Dallas”, that would be another story. The Danish verson of this series apparently closed the plot, so there’s no excuse for not following suit. I won’t watch it again for this betrayal; I’ll learn who did it after the fact. I’m not longer interested. Screw ’em!

  6. Wow, all of you people are jaded. I sense that if you had it your way, you’d like the outcome of a show handed to you right at the beginning. If you just HAVE to have you crime dramas wrapped up in a neat little package go watch CSI or Law and Order, then you only have to wait 50 minutes to find out who did it.

  7. I just watched all 13 episodes in one sitting on a flight from the UK to Australia and I loved it. The best series since the Wire and Unit One.

    I didn’t have an issue with the ending. My only concern was what was Richmond’s motif if he’s been a lothario all along?? As far as I thought he may not have killed Rosie… Ok he may just be a raging psycho but that would seem far fetched to me. Plenty of set up opps out there I reckon.

    I agree that a few of the story arcs were getting to the end but I’m happy there’s another series and let’s just see what happens. The writers can go for it as far as I’m concerned… Too many shows are neat and tidy and life ain’t like that!

  8. What really ticked me off was the start of the new season didn’t have a quick resume at the beginning thereby leaving me floundering for a considerable time trying to remember what the heck was going on! Not good!

  9. I was intrigued by this show at first but then it just went sillier and sillier, with scenes rather irrelevant to the plot and uninteresting characters. It just feels so unlikely that the Rosie- killing was part of a bigger thing. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.

    I would have liked a finish at the season finale on a story that already had dragged out way too long. What irritates me most is that we never really knew much about Rosie. We never even really saw her alive and we know almost nothing about her personality. For that reason it’s hard to be interested for as long as the writers of this show would have liked us to be. At the end, I wind up not even caring what happend to her. This has been going on way to long already. Seasons 2? Thanks but no thanks.