[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Season 2 finale of The Killing. Read at your own risk.]
In the end, The Killing's final red herring wasn't exactly a red herring. Well, it was, but... let us explain.
Season 2's penultimate episode pretty strongly implicated Jamie Wright (Eric Ladin), the right-hand man of city councilman and mayoral hopeful Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), in the death of Rosie Larsen. This week, he admits to beating Rosie unconscious (twice!) and locking her in the trunk of that Richmond campaign car after she overheard his plan to to derail Mayor Adam's waterfront initiative, but he did not push the car into the lake.
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Though Jamie may not have drowned Rosie, he certainly pays for his role in her death. Moments after Richmond wins the election, Jamie comes clean with his boss about the whole thing. Just then, Detectives Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) bust in, and when Jamie turns his (unloaded) gun on Linden, Holder shoots him dead.
But because Linden just hates taking a breather — and because the show still had 42 minutes to fill — that wasn't all. Unwilling to let Jamie's co-conspirator, developer Michael Ames (Barclay Hope) get off scot-free, Linden and Holder search for the cab with a broken taillight that dropped Ames off at the lake to meet Jamie. Just when it seems that the detectives hit a dead end, they drop by the Larsen house and see a car with a busted tail light, and everything else clicks into place.
Rosie's aunt Terry (Jamie Anne Allman), who had been seeing Ames ever since they met through the Beau Soleil escort service, picks Ames up from the ferry. But their planned trip to Vegas hits a speed bump when Jamie calls Ames to the lake. As Ames and Jamie argue over whether to kill the girl in the trunk or let her go, Terry makes the decision for them, pushing the car into the lake in a final act of desperation.
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"I didn't know! I didn't know it was Rosie," Terry tearfully tells the detectives and Stan and Mitch. Despite that heartbreaking news, the Larsens got the closest thing to a happy ending that they could: Rosie's film, which was her final goodbye to her parents and siblings. It explained that she was planning to leave Seattle to see the world, but that she would let the family know wherever she ended up. Her dreams were cut short, but at least the family that had been blaming themselves knew that when she left them behind, it wasn't because she didn't love them.
So, case closed. After 26 episodes and one of the more violent critic/viewer backlashes in recent memory, The Killing has solved Rosie's murder. Interestingly, the episode doesn't really set up a new mystery over which Linden to obsess. In fact, aside from the fact that Richmond sells his soul to Nicole Jackson to win the election (is there any other way to interpret his meeting with her and Ames to discuss the building of the Indian museum?), there aren't a lot of loose threads. (Unless we assume Linden's son Jack is still eating out of vending machines with his dad in Chicago.) It almost seemed too tidy. Is that a sign that the show might not be back for a third season?
So, what did you think of the finale? Had you guessed the killer long ago? Would you watch a new season (and new case) if The Killing is renewed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!