DVD Review: The Killing - The Complete Fourth Season

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Simply put, The Killing was the police procedural that refused to be killed. It was initially a relatively strong performer for AMC back in spring of 2011 when the first season premiered. Despite well-drawn characters, memorably portrayed by a cast led by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, viewers soon tired of the show's glacial pacing and dreary atmosphere. It was sometimes unfavorably compared with the quirkier style of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (an obvious influence, but not a blueprint). When that first season's finale did not answer the season's central question of who killed Rosie Larson, many jumped ship.

It has been a long, strange trip, but now we have The Killing: The Complete Fourth Season, released as a two-disc DVD (manufactured on demand, as was the previous season) via 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. AMC pulled the plug after season two's poor ratings, only to do an about face and greenlight a third season, apparently at the last minute. When that season's ratings didn't really improve, it seemed the show was over (despite season three being the strongest). Enter Netflix, who picked up The Killing for the six-episode fourth season that brought the story of Detectives Linden (Enos) and Holder (Kinnaman) to a close.

The Seattle-set crime drama is very much the same Killing in terms of tone, though the freedom of Netflix has allowed for the addition of graphic violence, language, and sexual content that may prove shocking to sensitive viewers. The main story of a prep school student (Tyler Ross) who may or may not have killed his entire family takes a rather steep dive into sordid, lurid, pulpiness. Joan Allen is effectively icy as the prep school headmistress. But all that really feels more like a distraction as the fourth season exists to wrap up season three's cliffhanger (spoiler alert: Linden shot and killed her unarmed boss and lover James Skinner, played by Elias Koteas). Don’t get me wrong, the prep school story is compelling, but the drama involving Linden and Holder provides the heart and soul, as it has throughout The Killing’s run.

Those of us who count ourselves fans of The Killing are very likely to be grateful to Netflix for completing this saga. It initially seemed worrisome that the season would only last six episodes, but the story arc unfolds naturally in what turned out to be an appropriate length. A big spoiler alert is required to discuss the conclusion of the series finale (stop reading now if you haven't seen it yet), directed by Jonathan Demme. For the Linden/Holder shippers out there, the detectives' apparent coupling at the very end was very welcome (I’m guessing?). Although it was handled well from a writing and staging standpoint, it rang just a bit false in my opinion. Rather than a long-delayed blossoming of an inevitable relationship, it felt more like two people who were simply giving up and getting together because no one else would have either of them. Come to think of it, maybe that was the point. At any rate, it didn’t detract from a very strong six-episode mini-season.

Sadly, as with the MOD third season, there are zero extras included on this bare bones release.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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