THE KILLING, which ran for three seasons on AMC and has been canceled twice before, returns for an abbreviated fourth, and most likely (though one can never say for sure with this show) final, season this week on Netflix. Picking up moments after season three left off, the six hour-long episodes remaining seek to both solve a new case and deal with the aftermath of the previous year’s cliffhanger.
Lest you have forgotten, as year three concludes, Linden (Mireille Enos) shoots her boss and former lover / partner, James Skinner (Elias Koteas), who ends up being the serial killer she is hunting, twice, despite the fact that he is unarmed and kneeling before her. Holder (Joel Kinnaman), a witness to at least the second bullet, freaks out, knowing there is no way for Linden to claim self-defense. Fearing she is about to be locked up, season four’s premiere has Holder scrambling to cover for Linden, who is still in shock, and thus not protecting herself as she should be.
This begins with our characters in a precarious position. As the day after unfolds, it becomes clear very quickly that there are loose ends the detectives might miss. Try as they might to hide the truth, it seems likely that Skinner’s murder will eventually come out. We’re left wondering if both Linden and Holder will go down, as well as what punishment they might face. Could their actions be justified, given the circumstances, or could fate intervene and protect them, even as the body surfaces?
My instinct is to say that yes, things will work out all right. THE KILLING is a dark, depressing show, and not everyone makes it out alive. However, Linden and Holder are the glue between the seasons. They are also the good guys who give up everything in order to find justice. They deserve to get away with this. Fans will root for them to stay hidden.
That being said, I could see a twist at the end of the series where Linden dies in a blaze of glory, her son living far away, and she really having nothing left to lose. She’s always had a bit of a martyr complex, so why not make it official? I suspect a better prediction can be made after meeting Linden’s mother (Frances Fisher, Resurrection), though, whom abandoned her as a child, as that will surely help set Linden’s momentum.
Holder, on the other hand, has plenty to live for. He has his romance with Caroline (Jewel Staite). He also gets some surprising news in the season four premiere that will make it even harder to see him go down. Plus, now that the air has been cleared between them, on even footing since both got a punch in, Holder’s friendship with Reddick (Gregg Henry, promoted to full-time) seems to be sticking. So I think Holder is safe, successfully having turned his life around and found his purpose, even without Linden around. But we’ll see.
I don’t think Holder and Linden will end THE KILLING as a romantic couple. There is a moment in season three where it could happen between them and it doesn’t. There really hasn’t been anything else to point them in that direction since, nor is there in the first episode back, so it would feel forced to go there at this point. That’s fine. Too many shows led by an opposite sex pairing feel obligated to turn the emotional bond into something involving sex. Sometimes, it’s fine if it doesn’t, especially if one or the other can find happiness with someone else.
Now, despite all the character development and furthering of existing arcs, season four has its own case to investigate. Our duo are led to a crime scene where a family has been brutally slaughtered and the evidence points to the surviving son (Tyler Ross, Zombieland), whom a bullet grazed in the head, and who is suffering memory loss. There are a number of pieces of evidence that don’t add up, including some strangely severed piano wires, so it’s uncertain if the kid is guilty, making for another juicy mystery.
Does season four need this sort of murder to look into? After all, the show has always been best when dwelling on the pathos of the players, and this could be done with Linden’s deed. But instead, the writers decide to squeeze one more bit of police work out of our leads. On one hand, they do have a job to do so it makes sense for them to keep doing it. On the other, with a scant six hours left (granted, all six installments are likely to be ten to fifteen minutes longer than in previous seasons), one might wish for a focus on the principals more than new stars, with Joan Allen (Luck), Sterling Beaumon (Red Widow), and Levi Meaden (The 100) joining Ross among the fresh cast. Ah, well. The decision has been made, so no sense dwelling on it now.
In all, THE KILLING delivers a relatively intense, very compelling fourth season premiere. It’ll be interesting to see how creator Veena Sud chooses to wrap it up.
All six episodes of THE KILLING’s final season will be available on Netflix beginning this Friday, August 1st
CHIEF TELEVISION CRITIC | Creator of and writer for It's All Been Done Radio Hour live show and podcast. A voracious reader wanting to tell stories of his own, Jerome began writing around the age of 8 and hasn’t stopped, both original works and television reviews. Lives in central Ohio. Favorite current shows include The Walking Dead, Jessica Jones, Flaked, Outlander, and Archer.