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Abbreviated Season 4 of Netflix's The Killing strives to pick up pieces from AMC's Season 3 (warning: don't read if you don't yet want to know how Season 3 ended)


Linden and Holder (Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman) give it one last shot (presumably) in a six-episode Season 4 of The Killing. Netflix photo

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Twice canceled by AMC and buried before that by some critics, The Killing lives on for a supposed final six-episode fourth season on Netflix.

It’s hard to imagine any more afterlives for emotionally scarred, rain-drenched Seattle detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). But with this series and these characters, never say never.

Netflix, which began streaming Season 4 on Aug. 1st, shares Amazon’s penchant for Kremlin-like secrecy when it comes to revealing how many people actually are watching their programming. So a big, clandestine groundswell of support for The Killing possibly could trigger yet another rebirth. This very much looks like the end, though. And there’s closure, too, for critics who charged The Killing with a capital crime after its failure to answer the central question of “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” at the end of Season 1.

Those who watched the final episode of Season 3 know that its killer is Linden herself. She pumped two fatal slugs into her former detective partner and lover, Lt. James Skinner (Elias Kotas), after learning he was the “Pied Piper” serial killer of teenage prostitutes.

Season 4 picks up immediately where Season 3 left off while also adding a new murder case. Linden and Holder have disposed of Skinner’s body and are conspiring to cover up what happened to him. Meanwhile, they also find themselves at the scene of the mass murder of a prosperous family. Only the lone teenage son has survived, but with a bullet hole in his head. As did Billy Campbell’s mayoral candidate in Season 1, the kid rather quickly recovers and is soon back among the troubled students of a strict military school run by an iron-willed headmaster/taskmaster named Margaret Rayne (Joan Allen).

Kinnaman’s Holder retains his quippy, lippy gift of sardonic gab, which is a good thing. Enos’ Linden remains stricken-looking and very much in the running for TV’s Unfit Mother of the Year. It still rains a lot, but no one uses an umbrella. And of course Linden’s not about to let a smile be her umbrella. In the annals of sad-eyed ladies, she makes Claire Danes’ “cry-faced” Carrie Mathison of Homeland seem like a standup comic.

Holder and Linden track a wide variety of clues while also suffering separate meltdowns. They’re in turn being increasingly dogged by bossman Carl Reddick (Gregg Henry), who’s investigating what happened to Skinner.

Be assured that all of this is resolved in the end, although not always satisfyingly. Episode 5 in particular deteriorates into a ridiculous chase scene through the woods. A surprise cameo near the end of Episode 6 also borders on the absurd. Allen, a three-time Oscar nominee, keeps her countenance screwed tight but her character gets to be more than a little laughable down the stretch.

That said, I watched the whole thing in one big gulp, and willingly so. The Killing still has some pulling power, even if the initial thrill of Season 1 is long since gone.

Should this truly be the end, The Killing will have endured for 44 episodes, with the final hour directed by the esteemed Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia). Now it’s time to give Kinnaman his own series. He could reprise a Holder-like character in a sunnier clime. Or better yet, cast him as the young Lou Solverson (initially played by Keith Carradine) in FX’s Season 2 of Fargo.

Whatever happens, Linden is best left out of the picture. Enos played the character as written, so she can’t entirely be blamed. But she’d be well-served to ditch those tourniquet-like cable knit sweaters and take a role that regularly requires her to laugh hysterically. Veena Sud, at the throttle of The Killing for all four seasons, deprived Enos of any levity in a role that ended up fencing her in. It would be a shame if she also lets it define her.

GRADE: B-minus

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