Top critical review
Sabotaged by its finale
on July 9, 2015
Season 2 continues to keep one on the edge of his/her seat. A smart script, top-notch acting, good editing, and great atmospherics make this continue to be one of the more overlooked gems ever to have been on a TV screen. I found myself comparing it with Breaking Bad and even surpassing it in some ways because The Killing is more plausible. Breaking Bad provided more comic relief, but at least Holder provides a little of that in The Killing. Holder, however, is no Shakespeare-type fool; so the series remains pretty dark, and perpetually under Seattle's cloudy weather.
Although I won't put any overt spoilers into my comments, the reader is warned that you may draw some conclusions from what I have to say that come close to being spoilers; so if you want to watch the series with absolutely no preconceived ideas, you should perhaps stop reading at this point. You will just have to wonder why I only gave Season 2 three stars in spite of the praise I just heaped on it.
FIrst, I have read about the uproar among fans about the twist in the finale of Season 1. Having more-or-less binge-watched Seasons 1 and 2, I have to say that Season 1's cliffhanger wasn't all that frustrating; it doesn't take long for Season 2 to put things back on course. I mention this because I found the finale of Season 2 to be extremely disappointing. It manages to make the rest of the season seem like a fraud--the viewers have been played for fools; and I am not sure I want to trust my emotions with this crew of writers for Seasons 3 and 4. Still, up until episode 26 of this saga (counting both Seasons 1 and 2) this roller coaster of a mystery was thoroughly entertaining, thrilling, and captivating; so how could one be too upset with one "bad" episode? From my standpoint, it retroactively tarnished the whole series up to that point. Some viewers will disagree with me entirely, as some will enjoy being tricked more than I did. Even I will admit that the ending is plausible, and many viewers will feel that life does indeed have its disappointments and that it is entirely appropriate for a series that has all along been so convincingly hard-nosed-realistic, to end with some bitter lessons about human nature.
The beginning of one of the final plot twists occurred at the end of Season 2/episode 12, at which point I took stock of the situation and realized that the writers had basically two options of how to wrap things up. One of those options would have been more or less predictable, and the other far-fetched. I was disappointed that the writers chose to take the far-fetched path. It depends on the viewer's personality as to whether he or she would have preferred the more predictable outcome.
There are some interesting comparisons available on the Internet between The Killing and the Danish series upon which it was modeled. The one that I read in depth made the case that The Killing would have had far more integrity if it had stayed closer to the original series. Were it not for the ending, I would not agree with that assessment. I think that the American version has a richness and appeal than the more straightforward Danish original (based only on the article--I have not seen the Swedish version myself); and as good as Swedish actors can be, I cannot imagine that they could surpass those (not all American) in The Killing; and there are other articles on the Internet that agree with me in preferring the American version.
In the end, I guess I recommend the series; but I am very sorry that the finale reduced my rating to 3 stars from what otherwise would have been 5.