Unfortunately, it seems The Killing has garnered more attention over the years with its unwillingness to die than for the superb performances by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman as Detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder. Cancelled and then uncancelled by AMC after Season 2, The Killing returned for an excellent Season 3. But that only led to the show being cancelled one more time. Netflix then stepped in and gave The Killing a six-episode Season 4 to wrap up the cliffhanger left by Season 3’s finale. And while Season 4 doesn’t quite end up matching the quality of Season 3, The Killing wraps up its run on a high note, reminding fans why they’ve continued to stick with the show over these turbulent years.
As expected, Season 4 deals largely with the fallout of the Season 3 finale. Transitioning Linden’s character from full-on homicide detective to a person guilty of murder herself made sense for the series. And it was one of the more interesting angles the writers could have gone with. Holder’s aid in the murder cover-up tests their relationship like never before and highlights what has always been the best part of the series: the dynamic between them. The duo’s relationship has never been this strong and it is fascinating to watch events take place that could tear it all down.
On top of all that, Linden and Holder also pick up a new case. An attack on a family leaves five victims, four of which die, the only survivor being the teenage son who attends a military academy in the city’s outskirts. The first two seasons focused on the killing of Rosie Larsen and its effect on her family. Season 3 focused on a mass serial murderer of female street kids and a death row inmate that may or may not have been involved. So Season 4 is the first season not to focus solely on the killing of young girls and it’s for the best. The revolving storyline of the family murder with Linden and Holder’s cover up of their own crime is a high point for the series; unfortunately the six episodes given to tell it end up making its execution feel a bit rushed.
With only six episodes, Season 4 is unable to produce the series’ trademarked red herrings. Unfortunately, its clear from the start that most of the main players introduced at the military school are likely to be involved in the slaying, one way or another. The connecting of the dots is all that’s left. The impact of this is lessened though because of the acting quality throughout. Joan Allen does well enough as Colonel Margaret Rayne, head mistress of the military academy, but all the young, troubled kids’ characters are more believable, especially Tyler Ross who plays Kyle, the lone survivor of the attack.
Still, the relationship between Linden and Holder is the highlight of the season (as always). The tension between them is thick throughout and loyalties are questioned. There’s one scene in particular, when things start unraveling, where Linden questions Holder’s intentions. The pain and feelings of abandonment are clear across Enos’ face while Kinnaman emotes disgust and a feeling of betrayal with ease. It would be great if Enos and Kinnaman earned awards for their efforts. Will it happen? Probably not, but their portrayal of Linden and Holder has been stellar throughout the years and if anything, this should be The Killing’s greatest legacy.
Now let’s get to the ending. The proper “ending” is as dark and gloomy as you would expect from a show whose majority of episodes were soaked with rain and filled with cigarette smoke. But the epilogue ties things up quite nicely. There is sure to be a large base of fans who aren’t pleased with what happens, but I come down on the positive side. Without ruining anything: it just felt right to me.
Season 4 of The Killing is great. It, along with Season 3, are shining examples of what the show was capable of. Those who stuck with it till the last episode should be happy it was allowed to end the way it did. Was it perfect? No, it wasn’t; just like the series as a whole. But it displayed flashes of brilliance. And sometimes, that’s all you need.