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How to Defend The Killing, If You Absolutely Have To

Photo: Carole Segal/Copyright: AMC 2011
Photo: Carole Segal/Copyright: AMC 2011

It may be hard to believe considering the fire-breathing vitriol unleashed by the Internet since the indecisive finale Sunday night, but there are still fans of The Killing out there. And, right now, they are about as alone and scared as Rosie Larsen in the middle of a barefoot midnight forest sprint. To those huddled few: Vulture, as always, is here for you. In the next few days, you may well find yourself locked in conversation with angered Killing viewers, demanding to know how you could possibly be sticking by the show. First, try to calm them down: concede that The Killing had major flaws; maybe offer them a coffee, or a tea. Then, try these five lines of defense. Sadly, results are not guaranteed.

1. The Killing will, eventually, resolve the case conclusively.
So much anger, understandably, has come from the fact that the finale did not conclusively reveal who killed Rosie Larsen (well, “not conclusively” for everyone but Ginia Bellafante). But that doesn’t mean the killer won’t ever be definitively revealed. For those who don’t believe anything The Killing promises anymore, explain that showrunner Veena Sud swears: “I can tell you there will be a resolution to this investigation in season 2 and there will also be the emergence of another case in season 2, but I can’t tell you specifically where either of those happen.” Gently point out that the sting of the immediate letdown will subside — everyone is getting so heated that it will take two seasons to solve the mystery, not one, but once the dust settles, is that such a big deal? — and that when that resolution does come, it may well be all the more satisfying for having been drawn out. Then, attempt to bond with your interrogator by promising that if Sud fails to deliver on the second-season promise, you will personally break into her home and write mean things over her fireplace yourself.

2. Come on, the Holder twist is kind of promising, right?
The second-leading cause of finale-derived anger was the reveal of Holder as a photo-plagiarizing bad guy, sent in either to frame Richmond or just mangle his campaign. On the one hand, this was disappointing. As Andy Greenwald sagely pointed out in his recap, “The only protagonist who experienced any sort of growth — and thus the only one to develop any sort of rapport with viewers — was Holder. And for the sake of a cheap twist, all that development was squandered last night.” But, again, taking the long view: The twist does pack a lot of potential for the second season. While conceding that it might be asking a lot out of the same people who just let you down with the first season, push the fact that, if handled correctly, finding out the particulars of Holder’s duplicity could be a fascinating season-long development. Plus, he could turn out to still be a good guy, trying to frame Richmond in the interest of justice.

3. The professional ineptitude was consistent, and therefore calculated.
While admitting that it’s hard to root for people who are bad at their jobs, point out that the many screw-ups of Linden and Holder can be seen in a new light post-finale. Holder, of course, might have been subtly tampering with the case the whole time (or did he just succumb to the dark side at the very end, with just those fake photos? Wow, interesting question!). Linden, meanwhile, appears to just have been out-and-out defeated — when she gets the call about the photos, she doesn’t sprint off the plane like a good, responsible public servant — and that’s sort of remarkable, right? Turns out, The Killing isn’t another show about a protagonist who triumphs over personal failings; instead, we get the rare good guy who fails again and again, and then again. (Unless Linden’s big win comes in the second season. Tune in to AMC Sunday nights to find out!) Try floating the argument that the shoddy police work isn’t attributable to poor writing, but to an impressively bold character arc (which then also makes the whole creepy Rick/sullen-son situation non-superfluous).

4. The Larsen family’s unlikablilty: also commendably bold!
Making the victim’s family all be jerks, in one way or another (even the kids are kind of lame), makes things difficult for the empathetic viewer. But taking a step back from all our feelings here — isn’t it also sort of respectfully innovative? Seeing Mitch break down and Stan bash a dude’s face in wasn’t enjoyable, exactly, but there’s something to begrudgingly respect about letting Rosie’s death play out for her family as a real worst-case-scenario situation. “Have you seen a murder victim’s father go to prison on a TV show before?” you might ask your by-now-surely-subdued interrogator.

5. Holder’s general demeanor: delightful.
Only the most coldhearted curmudgeon would be able to deny that AMC’s decision to hire a Swedish guy, whose knowledge of American culture was entirely derived, apparently, from the first two Kottonmouth Kings albums, to play an ex-druggie cop has been a source of wonder all season long. The subtly bewildering accent, the incongruous phrasings — Holder has indubitably enriched all our lives. Na’msayin’, homeboy?

How to Defend The Killing, If You Absolutely Have To