The Killing Didn’t Respect You — And Now It Thinks You’re Stupid, Too
It’s probably not going too far to say that the way that AMC’s The Killing chose to end its first season – or, more specifically the way that The Killing’s showrunner, Veena Sud, chose to end its first season – created one of 2011’s biggest Internet television criticism outcries. Hell, I even wrote about it myself on this very site. A refresher course in case you’ve forgotten: The Killing was sold on the premise that it would follow the murder investigation of the teenage Rosie Larsen over the course of a single season. Implicit in that premise was that the audience would learn who the murderer was by the end of the season, not to mention that the fact that the show was airing on AMC leant it no small amount of prestige cache when taking into account the quality of the rest of the network’s dramatic slate (Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead). Halfway through the season however, it became apparent that The Killing was a turgid slog of a television show and the only reason that anyone was likely sticking with it at that point for the season’s duration was to satisfy their curiosity by learning the killer’s identity as per the implicit promise. Except the show didn’t do that. It, and Sud, instead did one of the most tone-deaf things I’ve personally seen a television show do by ending its season with a ridiculous 180-degree cliffhanger that saw the main suspect (Billy Campbell’s mayoral candidate Darren Richmond) arrested via tainted evidence planted by one of the series’ two central detectives, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) who had heretofore been shown as a fairly principled lawman. There are well-executed storylines where the outcome surprises the audience because the plot thread has been professionally constructed (see Breaking Bad for example), and there are storylines that are just shock value for shock value’s sake. What The Killing did in its finale would be the latter.
Flash forward to yesterday when an interview with Sud done by Written By magazine hit the web. Back in June when the finale aired, Sud bore the brunt of the criticism – and rightly so – for the infuriating way that the season concluded. She tried to argue semantics and say that the show never promised to reveal the killer by the end of the season, saying that she preferred to have the story develop “organically” which is code for “I’m making this shit up as I go along.” However, in the weeks following the voiced frustration with how the first season concluded, AMC head of original programming Joel Stillerman declared that the killer would definitely be revealed during season two. What we didn’t know until yesterday – via the Written By interview with Sud – was that the killer will not be revealed until the END of the second season. Essentially, AMC and Sud want you to sit through 13 more boring, uneventful episodes until they finally fulfill the promise that they made prior to the show airing. To be frank, this is bullshit.
The Killing’s first season was an utter failure. A show that was expected to be a critical triumph was instead anything but. Go ahead – try to find any legitimate television critic who had the show among their best of 2011. You can’t because I don’t believe that such a critic exists. And now, AMC and Sud expect you to return to a boring mess of a show for another 13 hours in order to find out something that should have been revealed months ago. If they had any sense of serving their audience or of basic public relations, they would wrap the Rosie Larsen case up an episode or two into the second season and move on to a new storyline. Now, I’m not saying that a writer’s vision for their story should be interfered with in normal cases. That sets a dangerous precedent and isn’t a smart move in most circumstances. But, with The Killing, Sud has shown she has no idea what she’s doing and worse, she either doesn’t recognize or doesn’t want to recognize the validity of the criticism that she’s receiving. So, the solution is simple – don’t watch. Do not watch the second season of The Killing. Don’t reward AMC and Sud for thinking that you’re an idiot. AMC has built a reputation for quality programming that has a respect for its audience’s intelligence. The Killing clearly does not. So don’t watch, and show AMC and Veena Sud that this type of insulting nonsense is unacceptable.