Monday, June 18, 2012

"What I Know" about The Killing

AMC's The Killing faced a tough road in season two. Shedding impatient fans who are used to getting clear answers at the end of an hour, or at least at the end of the season, American audiences by and large just aren't ready for a series as complex and drawn out as The Killing. But even those who tuned out halfway through probably want to know how it ends. So with that in mind, "What I Know," the 26th and final installment in the Who Killed Rosie Larson? saga, brings it all together.

SPOILER ALERT! Aunt Terry (Jamie Anne Allman) is the killer. She didn't hurt Rosie (Katie Findlay) on purpose, mind you. Yes, she knows there is a body in the trunk, but has no idea that it is her own niece, as Terry lets the car drive into the lake. Instead, she sees an opportunity to be with the man she loves, Michael Ames (Barclay Hope), and takes it. Of course, her plan doesn't work, and Ames breaks it off with her completely.

What goes through Terry's mind these past three and a half weeks, as the police desperately search for Rosie's murderer, and Terry realizes that she is their target? Being as this knowledge comes so late in the series, one suddenly wants to rewatch both seasons and see how Terry plays it from the beginning. Assumedly, the actress isn't even aware that her character is the guilty party while filming those episodes. But still, there is an urge to further explore the character's pain and journey.

The truth is, Terry is only a part of the solution. Besides Ames, who technically didn't do anything other than not report the crime, and may or may not go down for it, there is another person driving the killing. Jamie Wright (Eric Ladin) is the one who attacks Rosie and stuffs her in the trunk in the first place. But Jamie is shot dead by Holder (Joel Kinnaman) during a confrontation with the police, and so he escapes further penalty.

Linden (Mireille Enos) isn't satisfied with this ending. This seems to speak more to her mental state than to any actual evidence. At no point during the investigation, no matter how well things are going, does Linden display a healthy attitude. Viewers know that she has a history of mental problems, and is obsessive about her work. Linden could bring down every criminal in her city and not be happy. It's not really a surprise that she ends "What I Know" uneasily.

Though she will never know how right she is, Linden is sure there is a deeper conspiracy present. Jamie and Ames collude with Chief Jackson (Claudia Ferri) on a shady business deal. Should The Killing see a third season, an unlikely prospect, this will probably come out, and the guilty parties will be stopped. But for now, Richmond (Billy Campbell) proves himself a politician, living up to Jamie's worst views of the office, and continues an arrangement with the skeezy Jackson.

The main point of The Killing's two seasons is finding the person that killed Rosie Larson and bringing them to justice. That is done. Even with a handful of avenues left unexplored, "What I Know" still feels like an ending. After all, in reality, events and people are connected in many ways. The Killing could go on for twenty seasons and still find directions to take things based on everything that has come before it. Life doesn't sort itself out neatly, and crimes aren't easily defined in cases that can be quickly solved. The Killing deserves a ton of praise for its realism, and presenting what feels like a pretty complete story, but not a complete life, in two seasons. It may be depressing as hell, but it sure is authentic!

There is a happy ending portion of "What I Know." Though it feels a little false, coming so soon on the heels of the revelation about Terry, the other Larsons enjoy a family viewing of Rosie's film project. Mitch (Michelle Forbes), Stan (Brent Sexton), and their boys have been through a lot this month. But seeing them happily remembering their lost daughter and sister, gathered together, having persevered through the ordeal, is heartwarming and tear inducing. It is an absolutely wonderful note for them.

Other great scenes, happy and depressing, include Rosie's flashbacks and film footage, Mayor Adams (Tom Butler) passing the torch to Richmond, Stan looking with regret at Belko's locker, and Richmond literally shutting Gwen (Kristin Lehman) out. "What I Know" is a nearly pitch perfect hour that does a fine job wrapping up the various threads, without creating an artificially final finale, as most shows would do, where none is needed.

I would very much like The Killing to continue, tackling the conspiracy, Stan fighting the assault charges, and Linden struggling to get her son back. But if it doesn't, I am extremely grateful that the experiment was allowed to play out, despite the irrational hate and backlash the second season faced. It is a fantastic, unique series that will not be soon forgotten. Awesome job, AMC, Veena Sud, the cast, crew, and everyone else involved! Thank you!

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