"The Killing" began and ended this morning - a paradox that can be explained by one little word, "Netflix." The final six episodes began streaming just after midnight, so true-blue fans now know exactly how this journey ends. My hunch is that they are satisfied.
These final six needed to resolve a number of things, but I think clearly the obvious one was that other paradox: Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos). Enos, above all, made "The Killing" work in the first place, so perfectly did she capture that fractured soul trying to assemble or at least assimilate all the scattered pieces of her life.
Her Linden was in many ways that prototypical cop of all crime fiction - hard-boiled on the outside, but on the inside a cauldron of conflicting emotions stoked by loss, loneliness, the brutality of the job and something even more elemental that she couldn't quite get a handle on. It was the eyes, primarily, I think: Enos' cool gray eyes that reflected the Seattle sky, but somehow also reflected that inner turmoil too. She - and absolutely, Joel Kinnaman as her partner Stephen Holder - were simply very good, and held all this together even when the story failed them, which it certainly did on occasion, arguably less so in the third and penultimate season.
It is worth paying close attention to "The Killing" because it began with so much promise, as AMC's next-generation cop series that would carry on the expectations set by "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men." Of course those expectations were impossible to meet and "The Killing" suffered the consequences, abetted in part by a blunder by AMC, which declined to wrap the story by the end of the first season (after essentially promising to), and instead extending the story - implausibly, ridiculously - into the second.
Critics violently turned against the show; some fans did too. The buzz died hard, and "The Killing" never recovered.
But in the end, creator Veena Sud wins and wins big. She got her four seasons, including a final one on the hottest programming service in the land. Let her critics howl all they want to (and by the way, they don't much any more - particularly after the well-received final run of episodes in the third).
She even got Jonathan Demme to direct the series finale, as an emphatic last gesture. And...she got to wrap the story of Sarah, and resolve that aforementioned paradox.
Does this final six work? I've only sampled, but obviously Sud has sped quickly - and wisely - past the Skinner (Elias Koteas) shocker.
Skinner: Sarah's old partner, whom she killed in the closing minutes of the third, essentially at his request (although that was ambiguous) after the reveal that he was the Pied Piper serial killer all along.
It all begins with a Lady Macbeth moment, as she scrubs the blood from her person - but it's not so easy to remove that stain, psychically, either. She has become the killer who killed the killer. This was, quite possibly, the very "Killing" of the title all along (or one of them anyway; it's been hard to keep count). A new and horrifying case awaits her and Holder and, for all anyone else knows, Skinner is relaxing on some beach in Aruba.
Meanwhile, "The Killing" lives on, in perpetuity on Netflix, where students of TV can ponder a gamble that never quite paid off...
Or did it? Another paradox to mull.