The Killing Season Finale Review: The Pied Piper Revealed

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This was it. That final play that would either seal the deal for The Killing as a season worthy of its return... or collapse like a cardboard box under all the pressure of trying to close the lid on such a solid set of episodes.

Wonderfully, "From Up Here; The Road to Hamelin" delivered not only the actual identity of the killer, but-  through a riveting two hours - the right dose of humor, some solid surprises, a tragic twist and a final shocking gun shot that closed the case of "The Pied Piper," yet left the door wide open for Linden and Holder's journey to continue.

I'm glad all of the core characters had their stories pretty much wrapped up before hitting that final course of focus on the killer.

In Danger Again

Really, the end result of Seward's death in "Six Minutes" and ultimately the arrest and probable conviction of Joe Mills allowed those side characters to move on with their lives.

Where Becker chose to leave and escape the prison life, Henderson seemed to embrace the job, even if over the course of the season, he seemed least likely to stay. At the same time, there was nothing suspicious or an attempted fake out for these two.

Similarly, Lyric tried getting a real job working at a fast food joint, but the life of the street girl just couldn't seem to leave her. Luckily, there was some hope for Twitch who threw away his drugs. With a sigh of relief, there was at least the possibility that he might make it out.

As for Kallie's mom, a parent who essentially neglected her kid, had grown with the tragedy. The experience opened her eyes, but there was definitely recognition that she did care for her child, even if it turned out to be too late.

And once again, none of these three were tossed in as last minute suspects.

I had thought that perhaps the episode would reveal two killers in both Reddick and Skinner. It seemed possible enough and would be an interesting twist.

Thankfully, Reddick managed to find himself in the clear, but not until after Holder made a bomb threat on his former partner's car. (Holder with internal affairs was hilarious, but really when is watching Holder not entertaining?)

I really liked Reddick this season, and even down to the wire, he stuck true to his character, even helping Holder out as the minutes of the episode dwindled.

So, Skinner turned out to be the killer, not just of the 21 girls the police discovered, but admittedly, to many, many more. It was a sick revelation not only because he believed the girls he murdered to be just crack whores or "human garbage," but it was the ultimate betrayal for Linden.

That sliver of hope for Linden to have a love, to have a relationship was shattered when she discovered Kallie's missing ring. It was a fantastic tragedy that put Linden on the path towards a rather dark end.

On the one hand, I loved the car scenes with Linden and Holder that further enhanced that great relationship between the two. Linden was smiling, Holder was cracking "1-900" jokes and the two were in sync. It even led them to figuring out the identity of the burnt girl, and finally Skinner (even if separately).

It's funny because I haven't really talked much about Skinner throughout the season, mostly because he was there, but it was never anything that seemed out of the ordinary or something that just came across as bad or forced.

Rather Elias Koteas brought a real quiet and often comforting tone to the character of Skinner, especially with Linden. Of course, some things turn out to be too good to be true.

When it came down to it, that subtle acting matched with almost a whisper of speaking became creepy and magnified the horrors Skinner committed. He was so calm in his mannerisms, while manipulating Linden to take that drive. And I appreciate that his reveal didn't turn his character into an over animated clown.

While the whole interaction between Linden and Skinner wasn't a chase scene, it was mostly just conversation - and it was engrossing conversation for sure. I was trying to anticipate what direction the show would go next. And it was great that the discussion between the two helped wrap up why Seward's wife was killed.

But the last scene really solidified not just a great episode, but a great season. Skinner's almost taunting speech about Linden's love for him and practically coercing her to shoot set the tension on edge.

I thought it would have ended with Holder coming in right on time, preventing her from killing him and simply taking the bad guy to jail. Case closed. Simple way to end it. Nope. Not The Killing.

Linden fired the fatal shot, leaving a distressed Holder and a dead Skinner. And, boy, that somber and stone cold look on Linden's face before everything went black? Fantastic.

In a two hours that could have easily dragged and become bloated, the finale of The Killing Season 3 found a way to be compelling and exciting, focused on the characters as much as finishing the case, and providing one heck of an ending.

AMC made the right call in bringing the series back, and I can only hope that it does it again next go around. I'd gladly stand in the rain to soak up a season four.


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (206 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Holy sweet Jesus!! I wasn't very interested after te killing season 1, but just finished watching season 2&3 and I am so insanely disappointed this show was cancelled yet again! Talk about coming into their own this year. Wow! The story and performances, episode to episode left me breathe less. And the finale! Omg I'm dying. I want more. What a sad day for me.


Unconvincing ending after too many red herrings. Unconvincing Linden falling for the weird guy.Out of character. Unconvincing mass murderer.
Could hardly watch the execution; what a powerful episode, great argument against the death penalty. You would think there really was enough to at least look into the new evidence.
But, I would have preferred that it did not stretch out when the plot starts getting thin. Almost great. Certainly way better than most TV fare.
Terrific acting, Holder is hands down the most appealing guy on TV.


holder like jesse on breaking bad and boyd crowder on justified (as he was in the shield) is one of those non-main characters who is so compelling that he steals every scene in which he appears. these guys are not so-called leading men, but, they have complexity and charisma far beyond that of most marquee characters.


Great season 3 - the Reckoning will go down as one of the finest tv episode I have ever seen. Can't say enough great things about Holder and Linden - two excellent characters. Looking forward to season 4.


Jase - Even meant to be confusing, the story has to be believable to carry the audience. I love the show, but this is the first time I've watched the show and criticized the plot as it was happening. It was very hard to accept the hardened Linden suddenly believing in her love relationship with a married man who was less than stand-up for all three seasons. He wasn't "her kind" of man in my opinion and it was a huge stretch to buy the whole naive set of circumstances over the closing hour.


It amuses me how people love to do little more than bash on this show. It's not a tidy, slick, procedural fairy tale. It's meant to be confusing, frustrating and chilling. Unfortunately audiences have been simplified by too many years of reality television to grasp that.


Still a Great show , can't wait for next episode
Had some plot holes But still one of the best on TV
Please Bring it back


Sure there were some implausible plot points and missteps here and there, but overall what a powerful effort. I'm a confirmed Holder fan for life and when he thought up that last-second car bomb ploy, everyone in my living room nearly stood up and applauded. And his scenes with Bullet and with his girlfriend, just heartbreaking. I hope that Holder, his hoodie-thingy, and the entire crew will be back once again -- but regardless, I say they knocked this case, and this season, right out of the park.


One of the best shows on TV, imho. If the writing in Seasons 1 & 2 had been as focused and tight as it's been throughout Season 3, we wouldn't be sitting here wondering about a Season 4. Bravo to the writers, the showrunner and the unbelievably AMAZING actors who made this season haunting, compelling and (ultimately) shattering. To me, it doesn't matter that the final hour echoed the conclusion of Se7en -- what struck me was the midnight-dark irony surrounding the identity of the final "killer" (Linden), considering the show's title, its trajectory, and the uncertainty surrounding its return. The interplay between Linden and Holder was first-rate in every episode; Elias Koteas and Peter Sarsgaard were incredibly solid and dependable as always; and Bex Taylor-Klauss and Gregg Henry did some fantastic supporting work. I'm just glad Veena Sud & company opted to focus on the journey, ditch the 200+ red herrings, and develop such an absorbing array of characters. Sure there were some implausible plot points and missteps here and there, but overall what a powerful effort. I'm a confirmed Holder fan for life and when he thought up that last-second car bomb ploy, everyone in my living room nearly stood up and applauded. And his scenes with Bullet and with his girlfriend, just heartbreaking. I hope that Holder, his hoodie-thingy, and the entire crew will be back once again -- but regardless, I say they knocked this case, and this season, right out of the park.


This was an implosion that was worse than season 1. First the ending....right out of Brad Pitt's Se7en.
The many plot holes, like Linden pulling a gun and no one in the house was looking out the window at the homewrecker and her lover leaving?
Linden frisking looking away from Skinner, getting in the front seat, not cuffing him to the steering wheel, not answering the phone from Holder, the whole 'opening the trunk scene, knowing there were more murders and talking about the loneliness of those dead people and you execute the killer linden, really, really using a murder trophy for your daughter?
I totally agree with CHUCK. Though to Holderfan, seattle pd has already been through the whole GPS thing in real life and were slow (three days) to act, and there was no real probable cause for them to do that with skinner, and I really don't think you can get GPS coordinates is an hour in realtime, especially in seattle, where we do water our lawns and gardens.

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