‘The Killing’ Recap: Orpheus Descending

The Killing FinaleS1E13: Well, I guess we now know why The Killing got renewed.

The AMC criminal drama wrapped up its first season last night and, well, it just wasn’t very good. All season, the show worked towards the end goal of revealing just who murdered Rosie Larsen. Richmond? Bennet? That crazy ex-boyfriend who popped pills? And then last night, after we viewers put up with all of the terrible things the show did in its debut season just so we could finally get the answer to whodunit, they didn’t reveal whodunit. Instead, in another absurd plot twist that only a show like The Killing would think of being a good idea, the writers pushed the reveal to next season, effectively pissing off pretty much anybody who’d been watching.

“I’m leaving now, councilman.” -Linden

So, what happened? Well, after 13 episodes and pretty much a new plot twist every single week (sometimes, more than one an episode), the show seemingly settled on Darren Richmond as the murderer of Rosie Larsen. At the start of “Orpheus Descending,” Linden finds herself still in the councilman’s home after last week’s email reveal, and then she leaves and goes to find more proof that links him to the murder. After some more detective work, Holder provides the “nail in the coffin,” a screenshot of some camera footage that places Richmond in the campaign car on the night of Rosie’s murder. But then here’s the kicker: The thing about that screenshot (oh and by the way, yeah, I know, a screenshot) is that the screenshot is a fake. With some mysterious partner, Holder has framed Richmond for the killing of Rosie Larsen. And that’s not even all! In an even more ludicrous twist, Belko decides to fulfill his role as the crazy family friend and murder Richmond as he’s being transported by the police, pulling a “Jack Ruby,” but just as (we think) he’s pulling the trigger, there’s a flash (from a camera or a gun, not sure which) and boom, roll credits. The episode is over and we have no idea if Darren Richmond is alive, if he’s guilty, or still, who the hell killed Rosie?

It’s not the fact that they didn’t reveal who the murderer was that bothered me so much. I’m all for shows that break the norm and try whatever they can to make the story still interesting. But what made this ending feel so poorly done was that, just like the rest of the plot twists and turns this season, it felt gimmicky. What I mean is that all of the twists this season didn’t ever feel organic or natural in the story’s development. Instead, they just felt like cheap tricks the writers took to add more unnecessary drama to the show. In a way, The Killing is kind of like that friend of yours who is constantly complaining about their life. You want to genuinely care about the person and their frustrations, really, you do, but at the same time, after the same BS over and over, you realize that they’re just complaining for the sake of complaining so none of it feels genuine.

“Photo worked. He’s going down.” -Holder

And you know what else that bothered me? Apparently now, everything that the show worked towards with the character of Holder actually didn’t matter, because, you know, he’s just framing Richmond. Come on. He’s really been involved with this case from its inception just so he could frame Richmond? Really? Really? I just don’t understand how the writers think that is believable. If The Killing is supposed to be a character study a la Twin Peaks, and not just one big long extended version of CSI, it’s got to give the characters at least some type of grounding.

Some may argue, “Hey, The Killing wasn’t about whodunit — that’s not the story because it’s about the characters.” And that’s a fine argument, whatever, and honestly it’s probably what the show’s writers were attempting. But with the over-the-top drama, cliche plot twists and the fact that you pretty much couldn’t invest in any part of the show because if you did, the show would flip it on you, attaching yourself to any character was impossible. Instead of using the cliffhangers that invited the viewer to be a part of it and join the fun (like, say, Lost), the show just seemed to be dancing around in front of you, trying to bait you with every little thing that it could to get you to pay attention to it. And the only reason you were watching was because you just wanted to know who killed Rosie. That’s it. Nothing more. Not because you weren’t willing to watch a show with a new take on the crime drama (focusing on character development), but because after all the bullshit was sorted out, you realized that there wasn’t much of a story — instead, just a bunch of cheap plot tricks that didn’t amount to much of anything except just a bunch of cheap plot tricks.

Moving forward, I’m not sure what to think. I’ll probably watch next year, I guess, just so I can see how the writers plan to pull all of this insanity together. But will my curiosity hold out that long? With all the other great drama on television, it’s hard to say for sure. If anything, watching The Killing so closely this season has been entertaining from the critic/nerd perspective. It started out with a well-received pilot that showcased a tremendous amount of promise, but now? It’s the critics’ favorite punching bag. Unfortunately for AMC and The Killing, I don’t foresee that changing… or do I??