TV Recap: The Killing, Season 3 Finale


Plot: Detectives Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and Linden (Mireille Enos) are assigned a new case after the execution of Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard). When the victim is brought to the morgue it’s discovered that she’s Angie Gower, of a girl who was able to escape the clutches of the killer Holder and Linden thought they had captured. This revelation makes them question everything — including whether the killer could actually be a cop.

Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC

Sometimes a season finale can be the absolver of all sins.

The third season of AMC’s resurrected, Seattle-based crime drama suffered from issues of consistency. Some weeks the series would be a taught, crackerjack show rife with tough, gritty performances and intriguing twists and turns. Then other times it seemed to spin its wheels, the plot and characters stuck in a soggy state of neutrality.

Last week the series took a breathtaking turn for the dramatic with an hour long episode revolving around the execution of Peter Sarsgaard’s death row inmate Ray Seward. It was an absolutely chilling episode heightened by what has to be an Emmy award nomination grabbing performance by the veteran film actor. The raw emotion Sarsgaard brought to the table in this episode was just amazing. No over-the-top, scene chewing bravado — it was as real as one could imagine a man about to executed would act.

A lack of Sarsgaard’s character in the two-hour finale posed two questions — 1.) Could they deliver an episode on par with such a strong episode and 2.) Could they deliver a finale that would be an actual, satisfying pay-off. Remember, this series was originally cancelled due to the severe backlash it received because it’s decision not to have a definitive ending to the first season.

Luckily, The Killing played it’s two strongest cards in this finale — the dynamic between Holder and Linden and its writers’ ability to throw red herrings and curve balls into the plot.

Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC

It was actually very refreshing seeing Holder revert back to his jive talking street-wise detective. The third season put an emphasis on a more “serious” Holder and unfortunately, mid-season, the show left him a state of “whatever.” He wasn’t funny, he’s was serious, he just seemed to be in an eternal state of cranky — which is a waste of such a great character.

We also saw Linden lighten up a lot more than she has in the series. She’s always been way too dramatic, way too crazy, way too emotional. Here we saw her trade some barbs with Holder and even crack a smile. Dare we say she was happy?

Seeing the two act in a playful manner really lightened the serious mood of the series. Then, when sprung into action, the dramatic chemistry these two have together really got the chance to shine. This season we didn’t see this put in the forefront like it had in years past and it hurt the show.

Then came the curveball — Who is the actual killer?

Without spoiling it, the series was able to brilliantly fool you at every turn. They’re able to give us three very viable options at who the killer could be. The evidence laid before points to two characters we could easily see being the guilty party and then, hints at a third person. A person you don’t see coming, that you will make you say, “No way could they have done it!”


The episode keeps you guessing who the killer is for a good 90 minutes. Once he’s (it’s a guy, we’ll give you that much) revealed, where it goes from there is a harrowing and intense end. The emotions run really high and the ending…whoa. It leaves you stunned, in a state of awe.

When the credits roll on the series, you forget every problem you’ve had with the show. You’re just stuck in this finale, retracing all its steps, reliving all its drama. It makes you look at the entire season through a new, rosier lens and as we stated earlier, all sins forgiven.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — if you’re willing to be patient with a new series, you have to get into The Killing, because, this season they knew how to give you a payoff.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites


  1. Season three was fantastic! A vast improvement on the slow pace of season’s one and two. However, for me, the ending was decidedly lacking in oomph and was, frankly, very disappointing. They had me on the edge of my seat with a distinct opportunity to blow me away – instead they whiffed.

    That being said…. I will certainly tune in for season four.

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