‘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. Personally, I think that the episode we saw last night was not meant to be the finale, but once a decision was made to extend the series for another “season”, the episode or episodes in which we finally find out who killed Rosie Larsen were held back to begin season 2.

    I have to agree that the writers have done a great job giving Richmond layers and shading, but I don’t think he did it. The biggest twist was Holder being involved in some way and falsifying evidence. As for who did it, I’m sticking with Jamie, the weasel who’s already proven to adept at double dealing and subterfuge.

  2. “or one that has just jumped the shark for the sake of stretching out good ratings.”

    You nailed it. I see no point in that ending. Holder is the double agent that at first they insinuated to be and then happened not to be… and then, happened to be. That’s… I mean, I see no justification. With Twin Peaks you had from the beginning the sense that anything it’s possible in that twisted & odd reality. But if you pretend to present a realistic portrait of a murder investigation you can’t extend it indefinetely without losing precisely that “realistic” sense.

  3. I have to say that if you ever remember that is what the older shows used to do for their cliff hangers, wait until the last two minutes to come to a close then WHAMMO!! After loosing interest in mid shows and picking up again, I kind of dug it last night, got into it a bit more, even though it was closing the season out. I would have liked to see it close – so you didn’t take the same case into the next season but I think weetioger3, I don’t think it was meant to end and I read AMC was on the fence on a season 2, besides did he actually pull the trigger on the mayor, he was RIGHT there. Even if you didn’t think he killed Rosie you just wanted him to pull that trigger. Your right on the main aspect of your review – I am not sure if these characters have anything else to offer, or at least to hold to hold a full season 2 down.

  4. Thirteen slowly paced episodes and still no answer to who killed Rosie? I know there are many who love this show, and probably the cliffhanger finale as well, but I for one feel cheated. You can’t solve a case after all this time? Maybe if the characters were more interesting the show might stand a chance for a viewer like me, but I found Linden bland and boring, all the politicos turned me off, and although they are good actors Rosie’s parents just made me as depressed as could be with each episode. Holder was the only one whom I didn’t mind watching, and actually if he had his own show as the off the wall, morally questionable detective that he is, I’d probably watch it. Overall, though, enough already, and I for one will not be back for season 2.

  5. Well made,well written,every single actor was more than serviceable.Most shows are not as good second season anyway but I will still be tuning in.

  6. Now that I know how the game is played, I will wait to the end of next season and then watch all the episodes together. Commercial TV can really overdo it. The show wasted a whole hour with Linden looking for her son, who cares.

  7. From the onset of the series, the presented physical evidence, coupled with elementary logic and rationality, pointed to two and only two suspects. The key fact thus being the use of the Richmond campaign car as a murder weapon. Specifically, therefore Darren Richmond and Jamie Wright.

    Either Richmond killed Rosie alone or was aided by Kennedy who seems exceeding loyal. Or Jamie did it solely on his own to cover up his boss and close friend’s sexual liaison with a minor. All other possible suspects could be readily eliminated.

    Last night’s bizarre and utterly unbelievable episode cheated the viewer by jumping the shark. It is possible that having Detective Stephen Holder unlawfully plant evidence as well as the final seen of him getting to the mysterious car was simply yet another ruse- yeah right.

    From the onset Holder has never been credible as a character. No police department in its right mind would hire a former meth addict. Even more so an officer from the sheriff’s department in the same county as Seattle PD. Moreover Holder was far too overly stupid at times to be plausible as a homicide detective (unless of course he is a criminal genius). And how did he snag a homicide slot, usually the elite in most departments’ detective bureau? Normally this would be filled by internal promotion.

    Moreover, the quality of police work by both Linden and Holder has been quite sloppy and unprofessional at times. In reality Seattle PD’s Homicide unit has three 5 detective squads. In most major cities it is a team effort to by a group of detectives to solve a given crime. Moreover it is utterly beyond believability that a newly hired officer such as Holder, despite, as I wrote previously, the absurdity of him even landing this job in the first place, would have been himself, alone been assigned such a challenging case (with Linden supposedly on her last day).

    This is not a typical family murder or that of an armed robbery gone wrong or any other routine homicide. Ergo a senior homicide detective (who would be sticking around) would have been, in the real world, be assigned as the primary officer. Moreover, sans a true lucky break, a case such as Rosie’s would, in the real world, likely take at least weeks, or longer to be solved (if at all).

    There is simply far too much implausibility for the Killing to be believable as actual police work (it is striving for a heighten degree of reality is it not).

    Obviously enormous political juice was needed to get Holder in a position to derail Richmond’s campaign. Otherwise why logically frame him (the toll road pictures would be readily found to be forgeries by any semi-competent defense counsel) in the first place and risk one’s career and imprisonment?

    Furthermore is it in turn possible that Holder himself murdered Rosie and set the entire frame in motion? Far too implausible in the real world to be believable.

    Mayor Adams certainly had the political clout to swing Holder’s transfer to Seattle PD as does Senator Eaton and Tom Drexler. The later two however lack even a fig leaf of credibly as the being the mastermind of such a byzantine conspiracy, one completely divorced from reality based on the lack of a rational motivation to do so. As for Adams- framing your political rival for murder in American politics is too irrational to be plausible.

    Of course there may be no conspiracy whatsoever. Rosie may have been killed by say aliens from outer space or an infinitive number of equally absurd murders.

    Up to this very defective episode I had thought the Killing was a truly brilliant series. Sadly it eviscerated any sense of plausibility with this highly defective episode.

    • All points agreed – that is why I lost interest so fast – but still got in on the end to see just how they would close it and they did not.

    • “Up to this very defective episode I had thought the Killing was a truly brilliant series. Sadly it eviscerated any sense of plausibility with this highly defective episode.” You are so right, episodes like this makes the viewer jaded, the series is not a drama it is a game.

  8. The show has certainly had it’s moments when it’s dragged along- but I had a sneaky suspension that Season 1 would end with a full completion. But I am holding on because I have enjoyed it and the pace is fun at times.

    ScreenRant should note that the first Season the Danish show did last 20 episodes. With that I was more than willing to bet they would not give us a clear answer on who killed poor little Rosie Larsen:)

  9. I think I know what they are up to and it could be a winning format. Season opener, the real killer will be caught but, in the final minutes, another murder will transpire. This opens up the opportunity for a many new additions to the supporting cast, but the loss, of course, of anyone directly connected to the murder in Season One.

  10. Go and watch the original!

  11. I was very disappointed over the way The Killing ended. I think they should have brought the story to a conclusion and, finally, revealed the killer. I hadn’t missed an episode of this series, it was so good. Except for that episode a few weeks back with Linden looking for her son; I thought that was a waste of time. I didn’t think the killer would be Richmond because he was singled out the week before the finale. I had also been thinking that there might have been more than one murderer, given the violent way Rosie died and how her body was disposed of. Maybe two killers? And shouldn’t there had been a little more info about what she as doing at the Casino? Looks like I’m left with a lot of questions and, sadly, no answers. I will tune in next season, however. I have to!

  12. I enjoyed the episode and take it for what it is. I watched the entire season and never tried to guess who did it. I just wanted to go along for the ride and see where they took me. I did enjoy the ride. And they had to end the way that they did to ensure that viewers will be enticed to return for season 2. Just a business decision, really. They leave enough questions unanswered to keep you curious.
    As for reality, please. Even “reality” tv is not reality. This is a tv show and it is created, shot for shot, scene for scene, to evoke emotions in the viewers. Did it work? For some, yes, for others, no. But that’s every single tv show or movie out there. Just because it doesn’t appeal to one person doesn’t mean that it’s complete crap. Everyone has different tastes.
    I especially liked the “Jack is missing” episode simply because they made you like Holder. A lot. And what a swerve. It made the final minutes of the season finale more emotional. At least for me. And, yes, I’ll be there for season 2, all the way through.

  13. Am I the only one who thinks Gwen did it? She found out Rosie was dating him, Gwen killed her, tried to make sure it lead somewhere else by getting a corrupt cop transferred into the station, and when she found out Richmond had other lovers, she turned on him and gave the police a false statement. It’s GWEN!

    • My suspect by the end was Gwen. This is why I think there might have been two killers. It might have been difficult for Gwen to do everything by herself.

      • How come Gwen was able to give Richmond his alibi for the night without any questions from the councilman? I dont say Gwen didnt do it but its something to think about. Could be we havent met the murderer yet, given the way the plot is turning. Im gonna look for the original one for answears.

    • i am thinking Gwen did it too. after reading some of these posts,I think that if Dallas had been made today,people would have been mad for having to wait until next season to find out who shot JR.LOLIt speaks to our culture and the need for instant gratification that people want shows wrapped up in a nice bow at the end of a season. I loved watching this show called Murder One because it followed a whole case for an entire season. I enjoy a season cliffhanger.Except for that boring episode when Linden’s son went missing,this was a good ,solid show.

  14. I agree completely.. The season should have ended with the mystery being solved and season 2 could start with a new investigation. This current ending has left me angry that I invested all this time into a show only for the story not to conclude?? It was a complete 80′s soap opera move to leave it open ended and with the viewer only asking more questions.

    I still cannot believe they could let it end like that.. Anyway, they have turned me from a fan that could not wait to watch this series every week to someone who will not watch this show again. Very disappointing!!

  15. I can almost- repeat almost- accept the gimmick of waiting until the start of next season to answer the question who killed Rosie Larson. Yet this is a really cheesy way to try to lock viewers into the launch of season 2.

    Far more problematic was the introduction, from way, way, way out in left field of a massive conspiracy. This is a key element in season 2 of the Danish original so its conclusion is not entirely unexpected- save for the heavy handed and very unbelievable way it was introduced as a plot element at the very end of season 1.

    All in all a wholly embarrassing finale.

  16. I agree with most points made in this review. First let me say I’m done with the Larsons. Even though we should sympathize with them by the end of last nights episode I didn’t care anymore. When Mitch was saying she couldn’t stay in the apartment anymore why didn’t Stan say he bought a house? And the fact that he seemed to just brush over the fact that she drove him to attack Bennett then abandoned him was ridiculous. I will watch episode 1 of season 2 to see what direction the show might go though. The last minute was interesting and I am curious how it will come together. But if at any point we have to watch Mitch sulk around while trying to find herself I’m done.

  17. I thought the ending was bad and this season should have ended with the killer being exposed. In general, I think that the series is terrible because, for the most part, there is not one adult character in the show who is nice and/or normal. Detective Linden is a great detective but she is such a bad mother to her son and she doesn’t treat her boyfriend with any type of respect. Her detective boss is a real jerk and he constantly keeps putting her down. The father of the dead girl is ex-mafia. Don’t get me started about him beating up Bennet with his nutjob friend Belko. I don’t like the mother at all because I don’t care for the actress who plays her. Rosie’s friends are all drug addicts. All the politicians are sleaze. The school system is racist along with some of the Muslim guys who are also racist. How do the producers of the show expect the audience to identify with the show unless the audience can indentify with at least a couple of the characters? The only character I like is detective Holder, as mentioned by someone previously. He is an ex-addict in recovery, going to meetings, trying to better himself, and helping Linden to solve the case. The guy is funny and a breath of fresh air! And the pace is too slow for a 13-episode series. And, I do love slow-paced movies that are well done like ‘BIRTH’ and ‘ANIMAL KINGDOM’ and THE ENGLISH PATIENT but this show just takes forever to get anywhere. You want to watch a well-written, well-acted series, check out AMC’s Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, or Showtimes’ Shameless. Those are good series.

  18. I felt disappointed. Cliche or not, I wanted it all wrapped up in a bow, perhaps for season two to return with a new crime. The ‘fade to black’ gimmick lost me and the fact we still have no real answers does seem to be dragging it out for the sake of it, as you touched upon.

    Here’s hoping season two can find something captivating enough to keep us interested, because I feel I’ve spent more than enough time mulling over just who killed Rosie Larsen.

  19. Can anyone say Twin Peaks.

  20. The show resembles NOTHING like Twin Peaks

    • Sorry Anthony, I know you’re a fan, but this show really is an almost exact carbon copy of “Twin Peaks,” but without the wierdness. Anyone who watched TP knows that the father killed Rosie, just like Leland Palmer was the one who killed Laura Palmer in TP. Rosie works at the Indian casino/brothel, which offers young hookers that are only supposed to look like teenagers. In TP, Laura works at a casino/brothel that offers young hookers who are only supposed to look like hookers. In The Killing, the most politically powerful guy in town is supposedly the killer. In TP, Benjamin Horne, the most powerful business guy in the town, is supposedly the killer. Rosie was a popular girl in high school whose best friend resented her popularity. In TP, Laura Palmer is the most popular girl in high school and has a best friend (played by Lara Flynn Boyle) who is resentful of her popularity.
      Sorry Anthony, but the show is unoriginal and is an attempt by the producers at AMC to pull one over on its fans. The Killing is unoriginal, and unlike Twin Peaks, shows know style or creativity.

  21. Gwen as a keeper- whom? Not terribly believable. From what evidence we have Rosie was working at the casino as a prostitute on the night her death. She had to catch the 11;45 ferry meaning she had a client waiting. It would have vastly similar- and more logical for Gwen to have bumped Rosie off in a more mundane manner and not involving running down in the rain in a local park.

    Secondly the killing appears rather improvised. Unless the killer was taking Rosie to a predetermined spot to murder her, which might including drowning her in the campaign car, it seems an unduly involved and risky plan. Yet the drowning makes sense in that by immersion in water, a point any cop would understand, would eradicate all forensic evidence.

    Additionally if Gwen wanted to destroy Darren (no hints by the way from any of the prior episodes) and provided the councilman was in fact having a sexual relationship with Rosie, a minor, leakage to the press and or the cops would be a vastly more logical course of action.

    Women as a rule, rarely utilize brute physical force as a means of killing further reducing the likelihood Gwen was the murder.

    Of course she has, via her father the Senator, the possible political muscle, needed to magically get Detective Holder- a recovering meth addict and disgraced ex-sheriff department officer. Weeks are needed as a rule for someone to he hired by local government (even more so as per the detailed background investigations of prospective police officers), let alone the utter implausibility that an former narc would win a coveted spot on the homicide unit. Ergo, putting reality aside, this conspiracy would have needed weeks, perhaps months to put into motion.

    If Holder is indeed culpable- which may or not in fact be case (the last scene could be yet another inane red herring)then only four characters could possibly have interceded to put him in a position. Specifically Senator Eaton, Mayor Adams, billionaire Tom Drexler and for a truly bizzaro twist, Councilman Richmond himself.

    Moreover the frame would be very short lived- at trial the defense would tender as evidence the none functional toll road cameras. Proof of sex with a minor would be an enormously superior means to torpedo a politician’s career (and Adam’s people would have been furiously working to unearth precisely that fact if it indeed occurred).

    Who killed Rosie Larsen? Again the most logical suspects are clearly Councilman Richmond and his very loyal (albeit I have had some doubts on this point aid, Jamie Wright.

  22. Anthony
    It resembles it in the same way a high school student is murdered in a semi small town and the murdered student had many secrets and everyone in the town is suspect.

    • hmmm…sure

  23. Plus the fact that it doest wrap up in a single season.

  24. An O.k. final episode

  25. Okay, Gwen did it- just the perfectly inane and illogical ending to a sad and increasing unbelievable series- far, far too much Mitch and a grossly excessive number of red herrings- the cheesy possible tricks for a mystery writer, and a completely idiotic season finale. The Killing killed itself creatively.

  26. What I would like to know is why Holder wouldn’t frame Richmond at the beginning of the case? Why would he interrogate the boyfriend of Rosie and Bennet if he could just frame Richmond at the begining? This is either cheap writing or it will all come together in a way that will be shocking. Or holder just changed sides right at the end. Holder knows who killed her though. Hopefully it will all pay off next season.

  27. Maybe Holder just happens to truly believe that Richmond is the killer and with a little help got a hold of something that puts the final nail in the coffin. Maybe he isn’t bad

    I’m thinking maybe the billionair is the murderer anyway but somehow got Gwen to help him cover up the murder in return for future monetary contributions to her lover boy’s campaign. Once she found out he was cheating she threw him under the bus.

    Lastly I have mixed feelings about the ending and agree with the overall assessment in the review.

  28. I was really disappointed by the season finale of The Killing. I didn’t expect to be left with more questions than I had throughout the entire season, which I don’t feel was right. Furthermore I know several people who also watch and I was not the only one the next day who felt this way. I decided that I would not watch next season because I was afraid The Killing would go on for even another season and leave us still hanging but when I went online the day after the finale and I read that in season 2 we would find out who Rosey Larsen’s killer is so that changed my way of thinking. It really was frustrating to me as a viewer.
    Dawn from Nashua, NH

  29. What if Rosie Larson wasnt caucasion? would people even care? Would there be a season two? Something to think about people……..

    • This is sarcasm right? Its hard to gauge that sort of thing on the internet.