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TV Waffle - THE KILLING Season Four

Final season of the US remake of Denmark's hit crime drama.

Review by Jason Abbey (@abbeyjason)


Here we have a truncated six episode wrap up that tries to cover too much. Rather than re-evaluate, it feels as if a larger story has been shoehorned into a smaller narrative.



As the American version of Danish hit Forbrydelsen comes to a close we now have this box-set comprising the complete series, but as seasons 1-3 have already been looked at in detail, we will concentrate on the final season.
Most shows end on a whimper and not a bang, the demands of network TV wringing every drop from a saleable commodity until the drained lifeless, twitching show slowly expires. That The Killing manages to do this in four seasons is something of a disappointment. Here we have a truncated six episode wrap up that tries to cover too much. Rather than re-evaluate, it feels as if a larger story has been shoehorned into a smaller narrative. Following on directly from the last season and the - ahem - not entirely ethical  actions of Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos), and how this has compromised her detective partner Holder (Joel Kinnaman). The stage is set for an investigation into moral rights versus legal and the thin blue line between good and evil and the fall out among family and friends, loyalty and trust. Unfortunately this aspect is sidelined for an investigation into the murder of a wealthy family whose one survivor is their estranged injured son, a member of an all boys' military academy.
As an investigation into privilege and psychosis, this season falls flat. The great strength of previous seasons has been the street level environment it inhabited. It felt grubby and normal, desaurated and mundane without rubbing your face in the dirt. Here we just have a procedural detective story with a troubled, possibly murderous child, Kyle Stansbury (Tyler Ross), and the obstructive Colonel/headmaster who runs the academy (hello Joan Allen). If it all sounds A Few Good Dead Poets Jacket then that’s because it is. Allen gives full on scenery chewing as Colonel Jessup here, just one code red away from full on parody. There is none of the inherent sympathy for the street level homeless and lost of the previous season, just a bunch of faceless gun nuts with sublimated sexual urges and houses in the Hamptons.
Away from the detective business we have Linden slowly unravelling as the weight of her actions press down on her and the pressure mounts on recovering addict Holder as the realisation that his life is in the hands of someone who is increasingly unstable could lead him down a rocky road. Both Enos and Kinnaman are capable actors but here this season falls dangerously close to melodrama. Once likeably flawed, they become neurotic and unlikeable in one scene then back to the detective business in another. It makes for a schizophrenic ending to the show. Direction is as good as ever but the material is much flimsier this time; both Lodge Kerrigan and Jonathan Demme are back this season but with nothing like the impact their respective work had in season three. Demme has the unfortunate task of directing the final episode, which requires all his previous thriller skills from derailing into a conclusion with each revelation more shocking than the last.
Most egregious of all is a coda that wraps up with a supposed happy ending, or maybe this is the most deliciously dark and horrific ending ever devised by a TV show. Really if you stop and think about those two characters over the last four years, does that feel like something that will end well?
In the long term, the decision to revive the show from cancellation may have been a wrong one. Season three is still the stand out for me but the story was told in the first two years. One day we will get 24 part standalone serials which have a beginning middle and end and leave us begging for more. In the meantime we will just have to watch our favourite shows wither and slowly die.
Not a great finale then, but if you have seen the first three seasons you will need to see how the narrative arc set up last season concludes.

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