There's always a high level of expectations for season finales because, ultimately, they are the culmination of an entire story arc.
They are that conclusion that draws everything together in a climactic and hopefully satisfying manner, not only so that we viewers are eager to discuss it but also so they are clamoring for more. They are that pretty little bow that ties it all up (while leaving a few threads hanging) and closes the chapter for a particular story and certainly for characters, often times sinking or keeping up an entire show.
A lot can ride on such an episode.
So, in terms of The Killing, the bar was set so exponentially high, that I feared an untimely failing, an ending that felt too trite or a reveal that was so far past its expiration date that the result would be too sour to enjoy.
"Who killed Rosie Larsen?" has been that dangling carrot in front of all of our awaiting faces and finally - yes, finally - the truth has been revealed.
On my first viewing I wasn't sure what to feel. I wasn't elated. I wasn't excited. I wasn't jumping for joy with the massive turn of events that took place in addition to the big question being answered.
I watched it again and, like the first time, was sucked into the world, mesmerized not by the victory of our hero cops, Linden and Holder, but by the gut-wrenching moments that unfolded.
Jamie revealed not only his dirty scheme team up with Chief Jackson and Michael Aames, but that he found Rosie and brutally beat her. All for Richmond.
Eric Ladin laid it all out on the line as the behind-the-scenes Jamie now stepping up and telling Richmond everything he needed to hear to turn to the dark side, even if it was disturbing. There was such a proud pleading in the character that I didn't doubt the man would do anything for Richmond, anything to win. It was his life. There was nothing else.
Jamie had not only sold his soul because of it, but finally achieving the victory that he had desired was enough for him to point his gun at Holder. Did he know it was empty? Did he want to die because he knew he had finished his task or because deep down he recognized the atrocious act he committed needed to be punished?
That type of transgression, especially after last week's episode, felt obvious. Yet, rather than play out like a complete red herring, it stuck to the character and closed that gap on some of the missing elements. It proved to be a tense showdown not only between Jamie and Richmond, but Jamie and the police as well. Jamie was connected after all.
Still, the show's somber spiral had only just begun.
The true killer was left to Rosie's own Aunt Terry, and in a truly tragic scene, Terry exposed her pain and anguish over the death. She never knew it was Rosie in the car.
Terry was so caught up in wanting to be with Aames that she was willing to kill a girl to do it. Karma's a fickle bitch.
Except finally discovering who committed the crime was more heart breaking than fist pumping. The slowly played piano keys echoed hauntingly over the flashback, in addition to Terry's tormented face in the present. It was a fantastic scene that didn't feel forced. It was tragic on all levels.
The Larsen family receiving Rosie's video may have felt a little silly in terms of really stating the obvious: that she loved her family. However, the moment was sincere in its efforts to provide that closure for the family, so I didn't mind its overtness. Good luck to that family being able to move on and forward.
And, yes, Richmond won the campaign, but it was still never a moment that I'd truly been dying for. Although his victory did provide the unsettling freeze out of his closest companion, Gwen. Turns out, you can't win by being the good guy. It wasn't the road I thought he would end up taking, especially after everything that had happened, but clearly Jamie's speech had a huge impact on him.
As for Linden and Holder, the two characters that drive the show, they were pushed more to the back for the finale to make way for the big reveals. But they did their detective work and helped expose a world that, despite those sunny days, possesses a perpetually gloomy cloud.
Can Linden truly walk away from her work? I certainly hope not because she and Holder are perfect partners, but for the sake of her character (if this ends up being a series finale) she can leave content in what she accomplished What a somber world they live in.
The road to the end may have been a slow burn, with unnecessary twists for the sake of twists, and some anger of mine directed at Mitch, but the show stayed true to itself and its tone and delivered some note worthy performances, especially in its final hour.
And, of course, it introduced viewers to the superb Linden and Holder, a pair I hope to see again in the future.
While not full of rays of sunshine, "What I Know" brought the Larsen case to a satisfying albeit depressing close. It was a nice end to the two seasoned chapter which really proved that on The Killing, when it rains, it most certainly pours.
WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE REVEAL OF THE KILLER?
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.