Last night AMC's The Killing finally solved the Rosie Larsen murder after two seasons of frustrating red herrings, plenty of turgid emoting, and lots and lots and lots of rain. Was the conclusion satisfying? Yes and no.
Obviously we'll put a standard spoiler alert here for anyone who has yet to watch last night's episode, though we can't imagine that too many people are super cautious about The Killing spoilers at this point. In fact we know plenty of people who gave up on the show but still maintained a vague interest in getting the big spoiler whenever it was made available. So let's go ahead and talk about it.
Jamie the campaign aide did it. Well, sort of. He did half of it. The dedicated, square-seeming loyal lackey to Darren Richmond had all these nefarious political strategies to get Richmond in office, including a secret double-cross deal with Nicole Jackson from the Wapi reservation and that shady business guy Ames. He promised them a casino on the waterfront in exchange for their political support, a conversation they had on the unfinished 10th floor of the Wapi casino, where Rosie had come to say goodbye to Seattle. Jamie found Rosie after she overheard the conversation and there was a struggle and he hit her. He then brought her out to the woods and, we assumed for much of the episode, finished her off himself. He implied as much before dying in a shootout in Richmond's office. And that was that. It was mostly a disappointing reveal, as the show spent so much time establishing the Richmond campaign's innocence only to cycle back around to it at the very end. All the other plots and intrigues felt like they'd been a waste.
But then the show added a satisfying wrinkle. It turns out that Ames, yes, was there that night, and that someone else was too. Rosie's aunt Terry drove Ames, who was her boyfriend, to meet Jamie, and while the two men argued over what to do, Terry walked over to the campaign car with Rosie in the trunk, put it in drive, and let it sink into the pond while Rosie screamed. It didn't make all that much sense that Terry would just up and kill someone like that just because her married boyfriend might leave her, but whatever, the twist allowed for high drama during Terry's tearful confession in Rosie's bedroom. Actress Jamie Anne Allman did a wonderful, wounded, almost feral rush of weeping and pleading in the scene, which ended in a terrible yet tender hug between Terry and her sister. Obviously Terry didn't know that it was Rosie in the trunk, but she's still a murderer, so off she goes to jail and the Larsen family loses another member, essentially. That felt a bit cruel to them, but it wouldn't be The Killing without this sad, tragic family being sad and tragic.
There were some other captivating moments during the finale, among them the admittedly cheesy but still pretty effecting scene with the family watching Rosie's goodbye movie, and Linden's decision to walk away from the police force at the end of the episode. The show made good use of its standard dreamy, hypnotic music, and the gray of Seattle/Vancouver looked moody as ever, but somehow more polished than usual. Was that a bit of sun glowing behind the clouds? Maybe! Though, all was not well. Obviously the Larsens are going to be pretty f-cked up for a while now, and somehow newly elected Mayor Richmond turned into a cold, cynical bastard all of a sudden, leaving his lovelorn aide Gwen standing in stunned confusion as he took a meeting about the waterfront casino. That felt a bit out of left field — Richmond knows that Jackson and Ames were at least tangentially involved in the murder, and yet he goes on consorting with them anyway? I know the show was trying to make some Ides of March-y point about the corrupting force of politics, but it could have made a tad more subtly and less, well, Ides of March-y.
Still, this show vastly improved in its second season. While all of the answers might not have been what we wanted or hoped for, the process of getting to them felt steady and cumulative this year, unlike season one's scattered string of plots that went nowhere and added up to nothing. It's unclear if there will be a season three, but if there is we hope much-maligned showrunner Veena Sud and her writers have learned some valuable lessons from the Rosie Larsen case. Namely, solve the murder when you imply you're going to solve the murder. (If it was going to take two seasons, just say from the get-go that it's going to be two seasons!) And also, y'know, have a clearer sense of where things are heading and how they're going to get there. Obviously real police investigations run into dead-ends and have leads go cold all the time, but as narrative television, it was frustrating spending all this time on Rosie's teacher, episode after episode of the first season, to have it all mean exactly nothing. Also, a little parental grief goes a long way. While Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes are good actors, watching their respective blue collar dad sad-rage and lost mom remorse over and over again proved pretty exhausting. Especially when coupled with all that terrible, terrible weather.
We know the rain is atmospheric and everything, but maybe they should set next season in San Diego.