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The Killing's Shocking Finale: Love It or Loathe It?

The Killing AMC

Oh, you wanted answers?

Viewers who invested 13 hours in The Killing, AMC's gripping/meandering murder mystery, to learn the identity of Rosie Larsen's killer got something else altogether in tonight's finale...

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After a 100-mile, 12-episode detour—and more red herrings than could fill a Seattle fishing boat—show runner Veena Sud rewarded her audience's commitment with what amounted to a slap in the face.

Not only was the killer not revealed, really, but we were betrayed by smarmy but lovable cop Stephen Holder (breakout star Joel Kinnaman). The writers also betrayed his character: Even if he believed mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) was guilty when he framed him for Rosie's murder, his actions in this episode are inconsistent and illogical. (Why the charade of having Linden requisition the tollbooth photos?)

Sure, all signs point to Darren "Orpheus" Richmond as Rosie's murderer but—like Holder's motive and the identity of his accomplice—we won't find out (those of you who stick with the show, anyway) until season two.

This last episode, titled "Orpheus Descending" after Richmond's identification with the grief-stricken widower who descended to Hades to retrieve his dead wife, featured a series of affecting encounters between The Killing's major characters. While Holder and his partner Sarah Linden (the luminous Mireille Enos) built their case against Richmond, griefstricken father Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton) unwittingly comforts the pregnant wife of the man he beat nearly to death outside his hospital room.

Later Stan finally reconciles with his wife, Mitch, before she, consumed by grief, bids farewell to her family. "They don't need me," she tells him about their surviving two sons. "But I do," he says quietly. "This life…has been better than I could've hoped for." Instead of comforting her husband, Mitch cries, "Every piece of this place hurts me." The series is at its finest in these quiet, aching scenes that so perfectly capture the human wreckage of grief, and maybe we will still be able to cherish them once our frustration with the finale dissipates. Maybe.

On the campaign trail, Darren's adviser/lover Gwen (Kristin Lehman) hears him say, "Look at me: You know that I am telling you the truth," while lying to two different women—herself and Linden—and destroys his alibi in a tearful heart-to-heart with the female detective. Does she believe he is guilty of murder, or is she just heartbroken because she finally realized, as his former lover said, "No one can compete with a dead woman"?

The joking camaraderie expressed between partners Linden and Holder as they "wrapped" the case was the show's heartwarming tete-a-tete—and, of course, a complete lie, as Linden would discover when she finally turns her full-time attention to her son and fiancé.

Those who stick with the series can spend the hiatus wondering: How long before Linden returns to Seattle? Will Darren Richmond survive Belko's apparent assassination attempt? Who drove the getaway car? Is Holder involved in the crime itself or just its cover-up? Are Darren's campaign manager, Jamie (Eric Ladin), and Gwen involved? What happened to campaign contributor Tom Drexler (Patrick Gilmore) and did Jamie go swimming in his Beau Soleil-stocked swimming pool? And finally, who really killed Rosie Larsen?

We want to hear from you: Did you love or loathe The Killing's finale? Drive your campaign car down to the comments and share your opinions—and solutions to the show's many mysteries.

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