I may be a little late to the party, but I tend to get there eventually. After languishing on my DVR for several months, I finally got around to watching the first season of AMC's murder mystery The Killing. There was some, shall we say, controversy surrounding the season finale, and that was what finally got me off my butt to watch the show. Caroline had some strong feelings following the finale, so she and I kicked it old school style (like we used to back in the day) with some gchat blogging.
Fair warning: we discuss some minor spoilers of the first season and the structure of the finale. If you're likely to watch the show (although the moral of the story is basically: don't) you might want to steer clear of this one.
caroline: what i thought about The Killing's first season finale: FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE. Seriously, i was so mad i nearly threw the remote at the TV.
me: what was it that pissed you off? the lack of definitive resolution to Rosie's murder? I had heard grumblings from people about the finale, so I was prepared to not find out who the actual killer was when I watched it.
caroline: well, i have had some time to think about what exactly it was that made me so HULK SMASH and i think that primarily (as everyone else on the entire internet also said) it was that the promise of the pilot and the first couple of episodes was just so thoroughly destroyed by the time we got to the season finale, that i just wanted to know who killed her OMG. The characters that initially seemed so promisingly complex just turned into a bunch of flimsy collections of characteristics without an actual cohesive center, if that makes any sense
me: that was something else I was going to ask you; to me, the show let down on the promise of the premiere in terms of quality, and by the end it was kind of a mess.
caroline: oh, it was a complete disaster.
me: the problem is, it seemed like a planned disaster. It wasn't like LOST, where it felt like it was aimlessly wandering. I got the feeling that the writers thought they were geniuses with all the red herrings but from a viewer standpoint they made it look like the detectives didn't know were they doing for the sake of their story.
caroline: i mean, somebody called Holden and Linder the Keystone Kops, and i could not agree more; talk about slipshod detecting -- it was like the Scooby Gang!
me: I think when they introduced the terrorism subplot they began to lose me.
I was not as pissed about the finale; I thought it was a wasted opportunity, but I think I was prepared to not have resolution on the central murder. And I have to say, when they cut to black I was disappointed because I did want to see what happened next.
caroline: see, i was only watching by that point for some resolution -- to see if, by some miracle, they could tie it all up in the final episode. The thing that made me the most angry, i think, is that they sent the one character i cared about into a total 180 without earning it at all
me: You mean the implication like Holder was a dirty cop?
caroline: the one thing the writers got right was the evolution/redemption of his character...the one thing! And then to just yank the rug out from under that story arc in the last 15 seconds of the show was cheap.
me: I think by watching it all back to back I was better served by that...I found it surprising but not shocking. If that makes sense. I can believe that there is still more going on with him.
I think my central problem with the show is what Tom and Lorenzo refer to as the over-abundance of "misery porn"
caroline: OMG, right?
me: the early episodes with the Larsons were just too much. There is only so much grief a person can take seeing.
caroline: like, some of that is interesting, and definitely a departure from what you normally get with crime procedurals. But when week after week it's just Mitch drowning herself (...heh) in her grief in Rosie's room ... we get it.
me: agreed. Also, the "will Linden leave town" thing was lame. Spoiler alert: SHE'S NOT GOING. She's the main character!
caroline: DUDE. that got old, like, five minutes into the pilot.
(although it did give me a few minutes to wonder if Callum Keith Rennie is secretly the killer. did you see Harper's Island?)
me: heh, I did! That show was more entertaining than The Killing. Make of that what you will
caroline: you are not wrong, lady.
me: so here's the big question: will you come back for Season 2?
caroline: absolutely not. Well: i will read TWOP to see who killed her. But seriously: SO MAD.
me: I think I will check out the premiere...but if it doesn't seem they have learned any lessons it's over.
caroline: fair enough ... but I've read a couple interviews with the creator where she's all, "oh, it's fabulous that everyone hated the ending! It just means they're talking about my show! Proof that my plotting and characterization are impeccable!"
me: Wow. Talk about delusional. It really means people won't watch anymore and you'll get fired! I think the take-away from this its that it's REALLY hard to stretch one murder into an entire season of a tv show without it becoming a meandering over-complicated mess.
Hello, Twin Peaks?
caroline:OMG Twin Peaks. I haven't watched that in a looong time
But. The parallels. They are overwhelming.
me: The Killing has suffered from Twin Peaks syndrome...if you premise an entire show on "
“who killed so and so" people expect you tell them.
caroline: right. Or, at the very least, to give them something else to chew on that distracts them from the part where you don't actually tell them
me: I thought for sure they would reveal the killer in the finale...and then the ripples of Rosie's murder would reveal or lead to another death that would make up season 2. Alas not the case.
Because that seems to be the central conceit of the show...how a killing affects the people involved, no matter how tangental.
caroline: agreed, and that's a very intriguing premise. They just couldn't sustain it
me: so, final thoughts?
caroline: final thoughts. Creative, unusual premise; intensely talented actors. Both of those let down by unfocused, lazy writing and a vast miscalculation of what the viewers wanted and what the story demanded
The Killing: a great show to watch! Assuming you like miserably slow pacing, inconsistent characters, grief porn, and no resolution to WHO ACTUALLY KILLED ROSIE LARSEN.