Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Theological Condemnation of the Season Finale of AMC's The Killing

In Christian theology, we have this hanging tension in our worldview. On the one hand, we are justified by Christ, but on the other hand we still await our final glorification. We have been made new, but on the other hand we are still awaiting Christ's renewal of all things in the age that is to come. In other words, we Christians like tension and we're okay not always having resolution, so long as we know that a resolution is coming.


AMC adapted the Danish TV show Forbrydelsen to American television and The Killing was born. A brilliantly paced show, I never minded that it was somewhat slower (I call it "patient") like AMC's other great show Rubicon before it. Cinematography, mood, dark subject matter, constant Seattle rain... all of this served one purpose... to draw us in so that we want to know who killed Rosie Larsen.

Sunday night's season finale, "Orpheus Descending" promised to offer us that resolution (it was an unstated promise) which the entire audience understood was coming. And of course next season was going to have a different murder as the subject matter - or so we thought. That's the way that the Danish series did it, anyway! Well, the finale did a bait and switch. They gave us all the answers and in the last 60 seconds of the finale showed us that no, we still don't know who killed her, and no, we don't even have any IDEA who killed her. We're seriously back to square one.

Not only that, but Linden's own partner turned out in the last 20 seconds to have been a confederate who had been working for some unseen villain the entire time. Some people think it's cute when television does that to you - they like getting blindsided. But the problem is, (as one angry reviewer opined in his violent screed against the finale) this last season was a waste of peoples' time. We were left with far MORE questions than we began the season with. The show is descending down a rabbit hole, and I'm not entirely sure that the second season is going to give us any answers now, either.

I can understand that the show's producers didn't want to do a repeat of Twin Peaks second season which answered the question of who killed Laura Palmer and left the show somewhat aimless. Clearly the producers of The Killing think that Rosie Palmer's death is merely a MacGuffin to help us get to enjoy Holder and Linden's interactions as partners, but even that was dashed when we learned that Holder was working against her the whole time.

The fact is, in Christianity, we can handle tension. But we're not nihilists. It's not supposed to be all tension! Answers ought to be forthcoming, and they ought to share truth with us about what the universe is like so that we can find delight in seeing truth out. Now, a properly Christian ending, in my mind, would be if they discovered the killer but had not caught him yet. That is a reflection of the universe we live in, with sin and death still ruining everything we do, it has not yet been put away - but it will be.

Not that a "theological condemnation" is that painful to TV executives, but I still have this to say: Shame on you, AMC. You made a great show that's 100% not yet, and 0% already. But I will definitely watch the next season and enjoy being bait-and-switched all over again, I'm sure.

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