Season 4 of AMC’s The Killing premiered last week, not on AMC, but on Netflix. After AMC put Detectives Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) out of their misery for the second time, Netflix resurrected the stylish, rain-soaked series for a truncated fourth season. When the show first debuted, the ‘Who Killed Rosie Larson?” mystery, the dark tone and morose subject matter gave it a kind of “Twin Peaks’ vibe I really liked. Around the halfway point of Season 1 though, the grief-porn aspects of the show started to wear a little thin and were a real drag on any momentum the storyline might’ve had. I mainly tuned in to Season 2 for the conclusion of the mystery. When Season 3 debuted I gave Linden and Holder another chance. The show actually got better but still relied on red herrings and Linden and Holder’s tendency toward complete and utter incompetence to solve another mystery. Mild Spoilers Ahead!
Given all that pretext, watching Season 4 could be seen as a gamble. But six episodes isn’t much of a time commitment, so once more to Seattle we go with Detectives Linden and Holder. As with previous seasons, Enos’ portrayal of the damaged Linden and Kinnaman’s smart-mouthed, streetwise raw food advocate Holder elevate the subpar writing and plot. I definitely didn’t expect to watch the whole thing in one sitting. But that’s exactly what happened. Picking up a few hours or days where Season 3 leaves off, Linden and Holder are dealing with the disposal of Linden’s lover/serial killer Pied Piper (a plot detail that I had completely forgotten). Not much time to feel sorry for themselves though, because Linden and Holder are quickly assigned to investigate the murders of an architect and his family. The architect’s son is the main suspect, after being found at the crime scene alive after a failed suicide attempt. What follows in the six episodes is a rapid (for this show) investigation that takes our detectives to a nearby boys military school and a contest of wills with Colonel Margaret Rayne, the school’s headmaster played by Joan Allen.
Allen gives a compelling performance throughout. Along with Enos and Kinnaman, it’s a joy to watch her work the repressed, controlling Colonel that’s a direct descendent of Pam Landy from the Bourne movies. There’s several callbacks to previous seasons along the way, tying up the Pied Piper plotline, and checking in with Linden’s long-forgotten son and sister, now living happily with her wife on a houseboat on Puget Sound. Even Det. Reddick is given something to do! Unfortunately, the problems that plagued the series are still present, in particular that Det. Linden can’t help but self-sabotage her investigation. But the show moves along at such a good clip, its a little more forgivable than in past seasons. The final episode of the series, directed by Silence of The Lambs’ Johnathan Demme, wraps up the murder investigation much too conveniently. But hey, when you’re as incompetent as Linden is written, the Seattle PD needs all the help it can get I suppose.
What’s really surprising is the last twenty minutes or so, framed as an epilogue to the show. We’re given a few scenes that update us on the lives of Linden, who’s since left the force and found what wonders a little ChapStick can do, and Holder with his toddler daughter, who affects a strangely proper vocabulary given her streetwise father. Series creator Veena Sud even leaves us with a suggestion of romance, perhaps in an effort to satisfy any Killing shippers out there (does this show even have shippers?) that’s been more than a little controversial. It’s an abrupt move to slap a bright, hopeful ending on a show that has reveled in its bleak, depressing atmosphere, but given this show’s tendency toward disappointing solutions and convenient answers, its just one more at the end of a long list. All in all, Season 4 of The Killing is an interesting experiment by Netflix, giving fans of the show resolution after it’s been cancelled (twice) by the network it began on. Its a better fate than most shows get, and probably better than this show deserved.Image Credit: Netflix