The Killing: Why Won’t It Die?

Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder

The whispers became full-on conversation last week when it was announced that The Killing might be back for a third season on AMC and/or via Netflix. Chris Morgan mentioned this yesterday, and in my mind the conversation was drowned out by the sound of head-scratching. Seriously. Is anyone going to come back for this?

I was completely, totally, insufferably behind The Killing in season 1. Sure it was lugubriousness made manifest. And the rain! My lord, the rain! But I liked Mireille Enos (Linden) with her nervous energy and Joel Kinnaman (Holder) with his protective big-brother charm. I knew the show was based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen, which was doing gangbusters in Europe. (Now in its third season there, it still is.) And at the beginning I felt the American version had captured the glacial pacing and ambience that would set it apart from typical U.S. TV fare. So while most everyone I knew thought it was BOR-ing, I found The Killing tantalizing and I kept watching.

Then they went and messed it all up by refusing to reveal the identity of Rosie Larsen’s killer at the end of season 1, thereby taking one season’s worth of decent material and teasing it out into two seasons of hand-wringing, “character development,” and misdirection culminating with the most unsatisfying conclusion since Pam found Bobby Ewing in the shower. In fact, if Stan and Mitch Larsen had found Rosie in the shower it would have been an improvement. (Tommy: “Dad! Rosie’s hogging all the hot water!” Stan: “What the…? Mitch! Come quick! Rosie’s back and it was all a dream!”)

In response to the general feeling of dissatisfaction over the way season 1 ended, the producers, led by series developer Veena Sud, came out with a few obnoxious “we’re smarter than you and we know better” remarks that only served to tick off the audience even more. Then season 2 happened, the handful of viewers who’d actually hung on to the end felt sorely duped, the series was promptly cancelled, and it looked like the producers weren’t so smart after all.

But wait!

Turns out, someone at The Killing really did have vision: the person who wrote the contracts.

Joel Kinnaman as Stephen Holder
How did I end up stuck back for a third season?
I asked above whether anyone would come back for season 3 of The Killing. According to, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman will come back for a third season because their contracts say they have to.

Sadly, despite having taken a show with great potential and reducing it to rubble, Veena Sud will probably be back as well. says The Killing might be getting its reprieve because of her “strong third-season pitch” for it. Although… How hard is it to pitch a show that already has two stars audiences recognize and like under contract to do it? Nah. That’s not hard. Writing strong scripts that have a consistent voice and a logical, compelling story line: that’s hard. Here’s another thing that’s not hard: treating your audience with respect. If you expected us to come back and spend thirteen more weeks sloshing around in the rain and slogging through the gloom with you, you shouldn’t have taken us for granted. ’Cause winning us back now that we know what you think of us? That’s going to be hard.

If the information reported last week is correct and the deal goes through as planned, Enos and Kinnaman and whoever else is obligated to be there could be headed back to Vancouver in February to start shooting The Killing season 3. I know they’re going to be cold and wet; I suspect they’ll also be mighty lonely.

What do you think? Will you be watching if The Killing comes back from the dead?

Leslie Gilbert Elman is the author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.

Read all of Leslie Gilbert Elman’s posts for Criminal Element.


  1. Carmen Pinzon

    Count me as one of the people who gave up on the series at the end of season one. I didn’t even come back to find out who-done-it at the end of season two because I was so mad at the producers’ “I’m smarter than you” attitude. I like the concept of a show following one investigation in ‘real’ time throughout a season,but I have no faith that this bunch will do this. In their brilliance they are bound to come up with some other ‘revolutionary’ idea that will leave their audience hanging. So, no, I won’t be watching anything put out by this team ever again. (rant over)

  2. Karen

    I was part of a group of 7 online friends who planned to watch and comment on this show, and at just three weeks was the first to quit; two made it until the end of the show. Those who lasted sent brief recaps to the rest of us and at the end said they felt the finish was poorly considered and tacked on at the end to call it “solved”. When a third season seemed possible speculation arose that it would somehow go back to the Larsen case and start twisting at the end of the rope once again. A NO vote all around, even from the two bitter-enders.

  3. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    @bungluna Like you, I won’t be watching anything ever again from these producers, but I will keep an eye out for members of the cast because I thought some of them were very, very good in spite of the dopey story lines.

    @Renni I speculated early in season 2 that they hadn’t yet decided who the killer was. I didn’t see much that convinced me I was wrong. It almost seemed like they said, “Whoever we have left at the end, that’s the killer.” Didn’t matter whether it made sense or not. (No spoilers!)

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