Is 'The Killing' the new 'Heroes'?

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Image Credit: AMC

Hopes were high when The Killing debuted on AMC back in April. AMC had a near-perfect track record — Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and no need to mention Rubicon — and The Killing felt like the next step in the network’s rise to glory. It was to be an “anti-cop show” cop show, tracing one murder case over the course of an entire season in sharp contrast to the typical procedural structure. Early episodes earned accolades, high ratings, and comparisons to Twin Peaks. But the show lost a broad swath of its viewership and declined in quality in the red herring-laden second half of its season. (It’s never a good thing when one of the best episodes in a long time essentially ignores most of the characters and the main plot.)

But The Killing must have still had some devoted fans. How else to explain the near-rabid reaction to last night’s finale, which pointedly did not answer the central question of the season: “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” If critical reaction has been mixed, fan reaction has been vehemently negative — there’s already a site called f—thekilling.com, which says simple, “Dear ‘The Killing: F— You!!! Sincerely, Everyone Who Used To Watch Your Show.” Executive producer Veena Sud told EW’s James Hibberd that the show’s choice to keep viewers guessing was not unlike the divisive finales of Lost and The Sopranos. But those were series finales. The Killing will return next spring, after nine long mounts of festering wounds and pent-up viewer anger. Perhaps a better comparison would be to another cult-hit serialized show with a famously disappointing first-season finale. Will The Killing go the way of Heroes?

Mind you, the negative reaction to the two finales comes from very different strains of fandom. Heroes was a national sensation in its hyper-kinetic first season: 13.48 million people tuned into the season finale expecting a final showdown between Hiro Nakamura and Sylar (and please try desperately to imagine a time before those names conjured up immediate sensations of aggressive lameness.) What they got was a lame fight with bad digital effects and, worst of all, zero payoff. Conversely, The Killing‘s viewership appears to have shrunk to a core base of true believers: Viewers like me who stuck with the show, even after long hours of aimless melancholy, because of the promise of a cathartic revelation.

Which might explain why Killing fans feel especially betrayed — we stuck with the show and defended it, and now we are left without any catharsis. (It certainly doesn’t help that, on the same night, Game of Thrones ended its first season with a shot that might as well have been subtitled “NOW THIS IS WHAT WE CALL F—ING CATHARSIS.”)

To misquote John McCain, I’ve always believed that the fundamentals of The Killing are strong. It’s blessed with good lead performances by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, cool atmospherics, lots of rain. But I want to know: Will you return for the second season of The Killing? Do you think the show can recover? Is this like the first season finale of Lost, which just got you more excited to see into the Hatch? Or is this Heroes all over again?


Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Comments (65 total) Add your comment
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  • sean

    I won’t be back for Season 2. Like with Twin Peaks – the producers got greedy and decided a closed end show neatly wrapped up in 13 episodes wouldn’t be enough afterall. If they’d been honest and said “there’s a chance we may never solve this case” I’d have never watched it to beginwith.

    Shame on these people. If you want to continue the series – then deal with more crime or the trial of the person responsible. Don’t jerk us around like you did last night.

    Again… I won’t be back.

  • Jonathan

    Everyone is just confused. We know who the killer is. It’s Richmond. As if Holder is a bad guy. Please. Calm down, think about it a bit more, and reassess.

    • Buffy Freak

      I don’t think it’s that simple. They made it look like Holder is helping somebody frame Richmond. So to me Richmond is going to be yet another red herring.

      • Jonathan

        If Richmond is actually another red herring then I will stop watching the show. But I just don’t think that’s the case. Does that mean then that the real killer hacked into Richmond’s email account? The show hasn’t been absurd enough to suggest that that is a possibility.

    • Carrie

      Yeah, I think people are getting too bent out of shape over the finale. I think most of us knew that the case wouldn’t be wrapped up in the finale because it was already announced that the actors playing Rosie’s family members will be back next season. I don’t think Holder is really bad. My guess is that he thought he was doing the right thing by producing fake evidence because he thinks Richmond really did it. I personally think Richmond’s girlfriend killed Rosie. I feel that we were given enough information in the finale, while we were also given some nice twists. There were too many loose threads to wrap up everything in 13 episodes. I like the show and I’ll be watching next season.

    • KwadGuy

      The killer is clearly NOT Richmond. The best guess is that Holder is working with the Mayor. Remember that Holder got his job through an unexplained push by the Mayor’s office.

      Now, I do not like that plot twist at all. Holder is (was) a good character. And if Holder is ultimately a crooked cop and unredeemable figure, why did they insert than parenthetical episode that established his relationship with his partner. That was IMHO a great establishing episode if Holder is a good guy, and a total waste of time if he isn’t.

      As for who killed Rosie: Either Richmond’s female aid/girlfriend (jealousy), the Mayor through an intermediary, that slimy guy who gave Richmond’s campaign $5M for sinking a hoop (just because he is so slimy), or, outside chance, Richmond’s other aid (the young guy), though his motive is unclear.

      There’s an outside shot that Holder did the Mayor’s bidding for him and killed Rosie. But I discount that, as there has been no indication throughout the season that he has obstructed the investigation or that his process of discovery has been an act. (Think about the scene where he finds Rosie on the ATM surveillance cameras, or where he goes to the phone booth at the corner the hooker designates and sees Richmond’s picture there, seemingly leading to his own discovery…). My guess is that if he’s crooked (IF), he was placed in the office with a “a favor will be demanded of you” mandate and the picture was the demand.

      • Sharon

        I believe Holder is working with Gwen’s father, the Senator. I think he knows his daughter killed Rosie Larsen and is framing Richmond. I’m not as upset as some people are, but I read an interview Veena Sud that really turned me off her as a showrunner – if she’s back next season, I’m out. She really has a complete disregard for the viewers.

      • Mr. Holloway

        I KNEW Charles Widmore/Alan Dale was somehow behind this!

        Also, I have bad news for you: Sud will be back as the showrunner. (I’ve read several interviews with her that have also made me not thrilled, so I know how you feel.)

      • Abby

        I agree with Sharon, I think Gwen is the killer. However, I’ll never know if it’s Gwen or Belko (a la the original) because there’s no way I’ll sit through another episode.

      • jackie

        totaly agree that was the way i was leaning for about half of the season

  • Sparky

    I love shows where there is a build up to who the killer is but when The Killing finished last night I was like everyone else and in WTF mode. It was too obvious that Richmond wasn’t the killer. Last nights episode should have been the 2nd last episode and we should have had one more episode where the killer was finally revealed. There were too many red herrings throughout the season so far and at least 2 episodes where nothing happened and they were just wasted opportunities to move the story along. Out of curiousity I probably will tune in to see who was responsible for killing Rosie but beyond that I’m not quite sure. Note to Veena Sud, you need to realise that you are writing for a market where ratings are key. And considering the outpouring of alot of negative feedback to last nights finale you might want to rethink the direction for season 2 otherwise you and the writers might be out of a job sooner than you think…just saying.

  • Buffy Freak

    I wouldn’t care if they revealed the killer last night except that I could swear the producers told us they would absolutely reveal it.

  • MWeyer

    Everyone forgets that Heroes producers planned a major battle but NBC wouldn’t give them the budget or two-hour finale they wanted so they had to cut it down. And unlike others (Such as EW) I don’t believe “Heroes” turned utterly horrible afterward.

    In fact, one thing that annoys me is that in blasting the last few seasons of “Heroes,” people elevate season 1 to a level of perfection it never truly attained. “The Killing” likewise had its stumbles and missteps but people suddenly act like this was the greatest series ever ruined by a bad finale. I’m annoyed by the end too but let’s not go overboard as to how this ruined perfection as it was never really there.

    • thin

      Sorry, but that is total revisionist hogwash. I can’t speak to whether or not NBC put the kibosh on a superhero fight that was planned to be much better (but they certainly could have had a better finale even in a one-hour episode than they did), but to say that people look at season 1 through rose-colored glasses is flat-out wrong. It may not have been perfect, but it was more than good enough to have had millions of people riveted to their TVs while it was on, and it was far, far better than every season that followed.

  • Mr. Holloway

    Except that season 1 of “Heroes” was actually pretty great until it’s crushingly lame finale. “The Killing”, on the other hand, sort of limped to the finish line in its first season and delivered a thoroughly unsatisfying conclusion.

    It’s not even so much that I expected to find out who killed Rosie Larsen at the end of the season. (I like to be shocked by a good TV twist…as long as it makes sense.)

    The problem is that the show NEEDED to solve this case, in my opinion. Besides Linden and Holder, none of these characters are really interesting enough to merit carrying over to season 2. (Do we really need even more shots of Mitch staring off into the distance, or Belko acting creepy?)

    • Carrie

      I actually like Rosie’s father. I think he’s interesting, and I’d also like to see what happens with the guy he put in the hospital and his pregnant wife. I’d even like to see more of Rosie’s mother and aunt, though I do think the political stuff is pretty boring. I tune out a little whenever the scenes are about Richmond’s campaign. I just think there will be much more to the story when the show returns next season and I’m still invested.

      • tracy bluth

        I like Rosie’s father as well. However, because the show is already so similar to a less-interesting, not as amazing Twin Peaks I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be the killer. Maybe even possessed by an evil spirit named Bob.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Yeah, I meant no offense to Brent Sexton (who is great as Stan, as is Michelle Forbes as Mitch).

        In fact, the cast is quite strong across the board. The failure, in my opinion, comes from Sud inability to craft compelling characters beyond the two leads.

      • Mr. Holloway

        (PS on Sexton: When Bennett’s wife asks Stan how many kids he has, the look on his face before he responds “three” is one of the best things I’ve seen on this show.)

      • Mr. Holloway

        (PPS…except for the part that I find it completely unbelievable that Bennett’s wife didn’t recognize Stan as the man who put her husband in the hospital…especially since I’m pretty sure Stan’s picture was in the paper.

        That’s the greatness AND crappiness of this show in a nutshell.)

      • tracy bluth

        Mr Holloway, sometimes I wonder if you’re reading my mind. I had the EXACT same thought about the conversation between Bennett’s wife and Stan.

      • Lindsay

        I grew bored of the political stuff as well- no TV has matched the best political intrigue than “The Wire.” And I couldn’t agree more with the hospital scene. I was yelling at the TV.

  • Jane

    In February I spotted Carlton Cuse (writer for LOST) at a hotel and I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to run up to him and say “Thank you” or “I hate you.” I feel that way about Veena Sud. I loved every minute of this season of The Killing – yes even the episode where Jack went missing – but last night’s finale was strikingly familiar in answering questions while asking 10 more. I’m still a devoted fan, but even I need a little closure here.

  • Ben

    It’s not the lack of resolution that was disappointing, it was the fact that the finale made its fans feel like idiots for sticking with it. As bad as this show got in the second half of the season, we stuck with it, and we were rewarded with a finale full of completely unbelievable character twists, gigantic plot holes, and the horrible realization that EVERYTHING that made this show an endurance test during the last few episodes will be returning next season.

    And anyone who says this was a clever, unconventional finale is an idiot. This was one of the worst scripted hours of television put on TV in a very long time.

    • stella

      Pretty much, yes!

    • Mike

      Here’s what they should have done. Finish the story before the end of the finale and then start a new one in the last few minutes. She acts like the fans would not come back for season two unless she came up with yet another cliffhanger ending (which we endured all season long.) That’s not true. We would have come back for a new story, if the old story was completed in the first season. Too much game playing just in an attempt to create suspense. Useless waste of time.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Really good point about her propensity for cliffhangers.

        Pretty much every episode this season ended with a cliffhanger (…that was quickly dispatched the following week). I don’t know why I’m so surprised she’d end the season like that.

    • Diane

      I really liked the ending. I was talking out loud to the TV as I watched what happened. I have loved it all season and will definitely be back for more next season. I don’t demand quick answers, just good storytelling which I believe this is.

  • stella

    Veena Sud needs to cut back on the red herrings and focus more on the characters of Holder and Linden…which by the way seem like the worst cops in the WORLD right now…I think Holder tried to move along the Richmond investigation and the guy he talked to was his sponsor. I really don’t want him to be a full blown corrupt cop.

    • hiro

      The producer seems so preoccupied with her perception of what an unconventional show should look like that she forgot about the viewers. If you’re spending so much time trying to create unnecessary surprises, then you’re not really writing a good story. Her interviews have shown a very superficial approach to the storyline. And the cops on this show are the joke of cops everywhere. I don’t appreciate AMC’s promos that said tune in to the season finale to find out who killed Rosie Larson. I won’t be back.

  • tvfan

    I tried to watch it but wasn’t able to since I’ve already seen the original, Forbrydelsen. I made it two episodes in to the AMC remake but it was both too similar and not as well done. If it was better or different, then, maybe I would’ve been able to stick with it.

    If you haven’t seen the original yet, try and check it out, you won’t be disappointed. Although it’s pretty hard to find a copy in the US.

  • scottm

    I think this was a show with good performances, a page turner of a plot(so to speak)and an aim to try something different. However it wasn’t wholly successful and that blame has to rest at the feet of the executive. Veena Sud got lucky with a great property but just does not have the talent to pull off something exceptional, dramatically satisfying and different.Which is a shame for the show’s fans, of which I am one.Her comments on the finale just show her to be deluded on The Killings quality.

  • jasont

    Even more depressing than the actual episode, which was one of the most manipulative and creatively bankrupt “cliffhangers” I ever saw, is the interview with the show’s runner, Veena Sud, on Hitflix. Because in that interview, she expresses total belief in the shoddy pacing, poor character development, and lazy writing dependent on red herrings — and so she’s planning nothing but the same for Season 2. We might not know “who killed Rosie Larsen” — and at this point I no longer care — but at least we know who killed this promising show. Here’s a suggestion for AMC: why don’t you pull the rug out from under this mess and go ahead and cancel Season 2, despite saying the show was renewed. After all, that would just be taking a “non conventional” approach to programming that Ms. Sud should appreciate.

    • captain kirk

      Agree. Dump it and start over with something else.

  • tracy bluth

    The reason I’m disappointed is because The Killing was really starting to win me back since the “Missing” episode. I would’ve been perfectly happy with Richmond as the killer. Finally there was a reason for all of the boring Darren Richmond story lines that had seemed like a waste of time. Not to mention that Billy Campbell had more to do than mope about losing a basketball program.

  • Kalie

    I think it’s a little ridiculous to start calling this show the new “Heroes”. Wasn’t “Heroes” on for 4 terrible seasons? “The Killing” has been on for all of 13 episodes and this show had better writing and better acting from the get-go. I found it much more compelling than “Heroes”, which was mostly just silly. I was never particularly invested in the show and gave up on it halfway through a ridiculous 2nd season.

  • Babs

    I liked it. I didn’t expect them to solve the case, and I feel like people are being way too hard on the show. I love the characters, and I will come back for season 2. If people didn’t irrationally expect a neat and tidy finale, would they be as upset? FWIW, I think Richmond may have done it. I think that Holder is the leak because he got his job through favors. With the election coming and the Mayor losing, the Mayor made an offer Holder couldn’t refuse: if you think it is Richmond, speed the arrest up and arrest him before the election. Doesn’t mean Richmond didn’t do it, just means Holder needed cash and planted evidence against someone he already knew to be guilty. Wouldn’t be the first fictional cop to plant evidence against a criminal they KNEW to be guilty (remember the Captain’s speech in LA Confidential).

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