The Killing – Season 3 Finale Review

Rating:  4.0

3 word review:  Too many coincidences.   Longer review to follow, with spoilers of course.

First, some questions:

Were you happy with the finale?  Did it provide enough resolution?  Was there enough ‘payoff’ for our season-long investments in Ray, Lyric, Bullet, Kallie, Danette, & Twitch?  And, most importantly, dare we consider a 4th season?

Now the finale…

Coincidences.   The identity of the killer – and his connection to Linden – is only a starting point, and can even be a forgivable one, if it can be accepted that all main characters must somehow be connected.  I won’t lay down all the other coincidences, but here’s one:   Reddick did know the first victim- in a city of 3 million+.  But he’s not the killer.  Similar to some clues dropped in previous episodes, this and other red herrings were dropped about Reddick during the first hour.  This has been an often frustrating, series long practice on “The Killing.”

The fact that Adrien saw the killer from the treehouse, and that he was the intended victim, was a nice, believable twist.

On to Skinner.  We had a drive – a long drive, plenty of time – to ‘see the evil’ behind Lt. James Skinner.   Linden asked all the right questions and even ripped into him in satisfying fashion: “How do you do that?  There were 12 year old girls,” “You’re a monster.”  This drive was the moment to get inside Skinner’s head and see all the twisted thoughts going on. “I save them from the inevitability of their lives” was one solid, creepy proclamation.  Elias Koteas as James Skinner does a fine job; in this scene, his character needed stronger dialogue.  Lines that would really help us ‘see’ his evil side, lines that would make his behavior – as a serial killer who has killed 21 girls – more easily plausible.  The dark, evil, & twisted side of Skinner is overshadowed by an exhausted, ready to retire and gotta-crush-on-Linden Skinner.  The most intriguing moment of this drive was when Skinner implied that Linden may have known that there was something wrong with Skinner when they were first together, and that this may have landed Linden in a mental institution.

From an artistic standpoint, this week’s 2 hour finale didn’t have the creative flair that the last 2 weeks’ episodes had.  Of course, last week’s “Six Minutes” was an art piece by design, and an excellent one at that.  But the episode before that (“Reckoning”) was also a well crafted combination of suspense and action.  This one felt more manufactured, perhaps due to the need to simultaneously provide a resolution and a cliffhanger.

And there’s the ‘payoff’ issue.  All those moments when we wondered why we were watching those scenes with damp & dreary runaways.   This finale did provide enough answers; it just didn’t justify all the time spent on this large ensemble cast.  I enjoyed the season overall, but I can’t say that the finale made the entire season worth watching.

  • Strong point:  Linden and Holder driving, and Holder, as he would say, ‘busting her chops’ about her relationship with Skinner.  Right here these two are the happiest we’ve seen them all season, and the writing of their fun-banter was good stuff.
  • Weak point:  Holder’s bomb scare prank.  Beverly Hills Cop meets the Emerald City.
  • Weaker point:  “The Killing” usually depicts its characters as maintaining a normal level of common sense.   Linden and Holder come off as pretty intelligent, moving the story along naturally rather than being used as pivots to push the story through.  But come on, you are looking for a kid, one was already found in one trunk, and you are not going to look in the trunk of that car right away?

Other Season 3 conclusions:

  • In terms of watching a few incredibly well acted scenes, Peter Sargaard’s Ray Seward provided a lot of entertainment value.  In relation to the big story, however, that was a lot of screen time dedicated to a guy who, in reality, was pretty much a jerk and did not cooperate until the very end, even if he did not kill his wife.  Did the creative team just say, “Hey, in every episode, we need to throw in some stuff from a top-tier actor like Peter Sarsgaard?”  (Note that I also consider Enos and Kinnaman top-tier as well).
  • And Twitch?  Is he working with Skinner?  I am disappointed at this connection-deprived story arc, which includes Lyric.   Lyric, Twitch, and Bullet’s scenes never carried themselves strongly enough, the way Ray Seward’s did.  Twitch throws the drugs away- was that supposed to be a satisfying resolution to his story, symbolic that now ‘he is ok?’  If so, that didn’t work for me.   Danette (Kallie’s Mom) and Lyric’s scenes did provide some resolution.  (Amy Seimetz has a lot to do with that).
  • The season-long whodunit is tricky – many characters are needed to keep us guessing.  But the formula “The Killing” used in season 3 is flawed in that there were way too many unrelated characters.  Even if those characters grow and develop, the lack of some interconnection  between them – at some point –  is problematic.  Even if connections develop in season 4(?), that doesn’t count for much (anything) right now.
  • Holder was eating a bag of chips.  Off the carrot diet?  Does this mean he’s unstable or is it symbolic that he’s come to his senses and will just demonstrate a little moderation (in life as well as his diet)?  How nice he’s back with his gal.  Though if there was one loose end we could have left blowing untethered in the Evergreen State, that was it.
  • When we learned who the real killer was, exactly at that moment it started raining.   Nice touch, or “enough with the rain already!”?

And now I’ll repeat the questions again:  Were you happy with the finale?  Did it provide enough resolution?  Was there enough ‘payoff’ for our season-long investments in Ray, Lyric, Bullet, Kallie, Danette, & Twitch?  And, most importantly, dare we consider a 4th season?   Let us know.

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  1. I really enjoyed this season and looked forward to it every week. Love the actors and think they do a wonderful job. I was glad that the mystery was at least solved this season. I don’t think Skinner as the killer was believable. I can see him killing once to save his job, but the looking into their eyes and getting a great feeling as they die thing, doesn’t work for me. He just seemed to have too strong of a connection with his daughter and others to be that deranged. I would watch the show again if it returns for another season.

  2. I’ll watch it too… I just love the format too much, and L&H really are great characters. Totally agree about Skinner. Hard to pull off a twist when you’ve been watching these guys all season, but still, Skinner seemed more aloof than evil.

  3. Skinner’s being the killer was not believable for me. I agree that the ride in the car did not give the audience enough insight to his character to make it plausible that he was capable of the horrific crimes he committed. The fact that Linden had once loved him, and now finds out that he is a “monster” , somehow makes her character more interesting. Linden’s shooting Skinner twice with Holder watching will cause Holder some difficult ethical choices. The situation is now a moral mess..worth watching the next season…at least the first few episodes.

  4. I agree with Margo & Spunky – I just couldn\\’t buy into Skinner as the killer. That being said… Yes, I will certainly tune in next season (if renewed!). The cast is fantastic and the writing always keeps me involved and guessing…perhaps that\\’s why I hold this show to a higher standard. If Peter Saarsgard (Ray) is not recognized by \\”The Emmy\\’s\\” or something for this role, I would be very surprised.

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