Don’t read this article. Really, I’m going to ruin the last season before you even watch it!
Revived for a six-episode final season on Netflix, it’s undeniably tough to wrap up, particularly given that Season 3 ended with such darkness and contradiction. But while the question of how showrunner Veena Sud should have ended The Killing isn’t easily answered, there’s no doubt about where she went wrong in Season 4. The ending.
Like Season 3 of The Killing, Season 4 focuses primarily on a new standalone mystery. It also deals with the fallout from the season before, as another detective, Carl Reddick (Gregg Henry), investigates Skinner’s murder and begins to suspect Linden and Holder. The six episodes move at a breakneck pace, and as the main mystery — the murder of the entire family of military academy cadet Kyle Stansbury (Tyler Ross)— comes to a close, Linden’s fate seems all but sealed. Even as Holder refuses to give up his partner, despite the fact that he’s also at risk for his involvement in the cover-up, Reddick manages to put the pieces together and develop a fairly solid case against his fellow detective. And then: Linden confesses. But she’s let off the hook.
While the ending is strange from a plot perspective, it’s more flagrant for being tonally inconsistent with the series as a whole. The Killing is as close to nihilism as TV gets: It’s not there to offer hope for mankind or even for its characters. As sad as it would be to see Linden or Holder locked up, it would at least be in line with the futility of their attempts to do the right thing.
With conversations about TV being too depressing — a frequent complaint leveled at The Leftovers that surely also applies to The Killing — it feels strange to complain about a show attempting some positivity. But a happy ending must be earned. The Killing showed us a world in which bad things happen to good people, and nothing ever wraps up as neatly as you’d hope. For the same series to offer a sentimental epilogue is the ultimate cop-out: a romantic ending. Eff this..