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The Most Gut-Wrenching Episode of Television This Summer Came From the Most Unlikeliest of Shows

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | July 29, 2013 | Comments ()


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I don’t want to write extensively about the episode (there are zero spoilers below), because I know that few people have seen it, and I want to encourage all of you to check it out, but get this: AMC’s “The Killing” is not only good again, last night’s penultimate episode of the season is the best episode of television since “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones” left the air.

It was not an easy episode, however. It was one of those rare episodes of television, like the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones” earlier this year, or the final episode of “Rectify,” that will leave you distraught and upset, the kind of episode that literally makes it more difficult to sleep at night. In fact, after the episode, though it was far too late to be doing so, I forced myself to watch an episode of “Bob’s Burgers” just to take the edge off. I was a shaky, trembling ball of nerves with a pit in my stomach the size of a boulder. It took some time to shake off. It certainly wasn’t escapist television, and I’m still not certain how I feel about having it inflicted upon me by a goddamn show that had not displayed the capacity for this kind of raw, emotional power in previous seasons.

If you quit “The Killing” like most people, after the first season, you should know that, if you want to get back into it, there’s no need to watch the second season at all. You can pick right up with the third season’s first episode, which takes us into a new case involving a serial killer, a man (Peter Sarsgaard) on death row who may or may not have killed his wife, and street kids from Seattle who have been the victim of the serial killer.

“The Killing” still has its red herrings, of course, and the general moodiness of the series can feel oppressive at times, but Holden 2.0, along with Sarsgaard, has been nothing short of remarkable this season, while Mireille Enos has been her usual terrific self, amplified even more by the events of last night’s episode, which — by the way — came on the heels of another spectacular but bleak episode in a season that began strong, and has grown incrementally stronger.

Indeed, “The Killing” is not the same show it once was. It has become the show that we had hoped it would be after the pilot. While I completely understand why you may dismiss it as a show that’s already given you too much grief to jump back into, it does mean that you’ll miss the summer’s smartest, most compelling, and upsetting season of television. Showrunner Veena Sud has no one to blame but herself for the audience attrition and the subsequent cancellation, but she is at least doing in excellent job of atoning for herself and redeeming AMC’s decision to uncancel the series. Give it a shot, just make sure to keep a bottle of Valium around to help cope with the aftermath.




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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • V

    The Killing's 3rd season was apparently not as good/mysterious/surprising as the 1st, and I would not be surprised if it got canned. It went way off course and had a lot of messy things that complicated the stories and characters in a bad way. A lot of the acting was also mediocre if not terrible, especially from the younger actors and that is a big disappointment. Nevertheless, it could still be improved if not cancelled. 1st season was awesome!

  • Boothy K

    It was a remarkable episode. Everyone stepped up and they all deserve acting work for the rest of their lives based on the performances.

  • Andrew Iverson

    Gave up after the first season, just too many stupid red herrings and then that stupid season ender. Let me guess though, guy gets executed and later someone else kills her kid? It would take a miracle for me to get gut punched by this show, as much as i like the actors involved, i want all the characters to die a horrible slow death at this point.

  • Jifaner

    This season has been so, so good. This episode had me sobbing, but still- that's good TV.

  • catagisreading

    As an examination of the moral implications of the death penalty it will be hard to beat, what ever your personal mileage on that one might be.

  • Rocabarra

    My God, yes, thank you! I was utterly ruined by this. My chest felt like it was being crushed by those last moments.

    Honestly, I can't recall ever being so affected by an episode of television before last night. I nearly had to turn it off the weight of it was so heavy.

  • Hmmm. I'm looking for new stuff to watch...this might sway me to pick up The Killing.

    On a related note, why are more people not talking about Top of the Lake?? I started it the other night and ended up blowing through all 7 episodes in two days. Elizabeth Moss is incredible in it, and it's one of the most beautifully shot shows I've seen in a while.

  • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

    I saw the Top of the Lake marathon and was floored. It had some development hiccups (IMO) but the acting and dialogue were so wonderful. ReelSmartCookie you're so right: Elizabeth Moss was just great. As was Holly Hunter as the messianic healer/clairvoyant/megalomaniac. I've been loyal to the Killing even after Season 1. I actually didn't need closure then. Perhaps because I just wanted to see more of Michelle Forbes' Mitch. :)

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I was a die hard fan even after season two and was thrilled when I heard they were going to have a third season. It's been very bleak, I've cried several times and this episode tore my heart out but man, it's some good TV.

  • cindy_lightballoon

    I refuse to believe that Veena Sud wrote this episode, it had no right to be that good! For the last 10 minutes I felt like I couldn't breathe and then the tears came, but I don't really know why I was crying. So upsetting.

    I am soo glad I decided to start watching again after skipping out on season 2.

  • ed newman

    The most gut-wrenching episode of the summer so far. Breaking Bad is still to come.

  • St

    Nah. Nothing will make me watch again. I left after season 1. And don’t regret it.

    And it’s not only that it may get better. It’s just that it still has 13 episodes. Which means that at the end of every episode there will be red herring. Fake suspects and stuff. They should have had at least 4-5 episodes for one case and move on to another. 13 episodes is too much.

  • Fredo

    I'm with you. Nothing could make me go back after the terror that was Season 1.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Not really accurate. Yes there have been some red herrings, but they spent a lot more time developing the mysteries themselves as opposed to just going for the whodunit.

    And there are only 12 eps this season, so there.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Thank you so much for this. I have been waiting all day for someone to start talking about that episode. God it is still with me. Dude, Sarsgaard, WOW!

  • PaddyDog

    Agreed. It was a riveting episode, but goodgodalmighty has Linden never heard of The Innocence Project? I'd write more but am afraid of spoilers.

  • John W

    I'm glad I decided to keep this on my DVR because this season has been very good.

  • Django

    Same experience watching it with my wife. Stayed up later to watch a couple episodes from season two of the Office to shake off the nerves. Wasn't expecting this from a show I'd been so disconnected to and was just sort of going through the motions watching.

  • abby725

    just as Lois said I'm surprised that anyone can make $5959 in a few weeks on the computer. have you seen this web link w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

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