The Killing Postmortem: Showrunner Veena Sud on the Finale's Big Twists and Season 2
[WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers from the season finale of The Killing. Read at your own risk.]
If you were expecting to find out who killed Rosie Larsen in Sunday's season-ending hour of The Killing, you might be feeling a little frustrated. For nearly an hour, viewers calculated gas mileage, retraced Rosie's final steps, saw Darren's lies unravel, watched the Larsen family implode... all before finding out that the murder would not be solved before the credits rolled.
AMC renews The Killing for Season 2
TVGuide.com watched the finale in advance and on Thursday spoke to executive producer Veena Sud, formerly in charge of CBS crime procedural Cold Case and now responsible for adapting The Killing's original Danish counterpart Forbrydelsen for AMC, about why she's keeping viewers in the dark, if we'll ever know more about Rosie, and what we can expect in Season 2.
How do you think viewers are going to react to the finale? Are you excited or are you nervous?
Veena Sud: I'm feeling really, really excited. I think there's going to be a great reaction. I think people are going to jump out of their seats. And it's what we promised all along — this is going to be the anti-cop show. There aren't going to be formulas. There's not going to be easy solutions or expected solutions.
Or, for now, no solution! How and why did you come to the decision that the audience wouldn't find out whodunit until next season? (Side note: Congratulations on getting renewed!)
Sud: [Laughs.] There were a lot of very intensive discussions about it from the very beginning and throughout. Here's what we asked ourselves: If we're not married to formula, and if we really want to do the non-traditional cop show and really push the genre and push expectations and not be the McDonald's fast food cop show that everyone's used to, are we not still being formulaic if we say, "OK, every single season there's going to be a murder. So, happily you can know that this tragedy has a shelf life of one season and then it's done and you can move on"?
We never said, "Who killed Rosie Larsen? You will definitively find that out at the end of episode 13, so don't worry about it. And by the way, we are about formula, too, actually!" We never promised that. Ultimately, I think people have rewarded the show for taking on the genre and really trying new things, and maybe sometimes viewers felt wowed, excited, surprised, maybe a little angry and conflicted. But that's what happens when you have a show that's not about tying everything up in a bow.
Also, we're based on a Danish series in which the investigation ran for 20 episodes. I had 13. So there were still pieces and moments and elements of that story that I wanted to make sure we had time to tell in ours.
How AMC's dark drama The Killing came together
Will we learn who killed Rosie in Season 2? Definitively speaking?
Sud: Rosie's case will absolutely continue into Season 2. The murderer will be revealed in Season 2 and there will also be a new case introduced.
Do those two cases overlap?
Sud: I can't say.
One theory: Does Rosie's murder open up a larger story about city-wide corruption?
Sud: The story from the very beginning has been — a la Traffic — about how one murder affects other worlds, the world of the cops, of Richmond [Billy Campbell], city politics... There are reverberations of this one child's death going to the highest echelons of the city. So, yes, that may continue to be explored in Season 2.
Here's why I ask: At the end of the finale, we find out that Holder [Joel Kinnaman] turned in false evidence against Richmond, so Holder could be out to get the councilman. But Holder also seemed genuinely stunned — while he was alone in that phone booth — when he discovered that the Beau Soleil girl was ID'ing Richmond as Orpheus.
Sud: I think that's the great thing about Holder. Ultimately, Holder is an undercover cop, and he's a chameleon and he's an actor. He knows how to play a part. The turn at the end is revealing something shocking and new about him that we'll find out about in Season 2.
Before the series had premiered, you said that you didn't know who the killer was and that it was something you'd discover in the writing of the show. What informed your choice?
Sud: We shot the pilot in April 2010 and we began working in the writers room in September, so there was a good amount of time to marinate on our specific actors. The whole cast, they're so amazing. Who they are and their essence absolutely influenced how we write and what we decided. We figured who the murderer was in the first half of the season.
Is the murderer someone we've gotten to know already?
Sud: I can't say.
You also said you wanted to limit what the audience knows about the case to Linden's [Mireille Enos] perspective. At the end of 13 episodes, and maybe because of that, we still don't know Rosie very well. Is that going to change next season?
Sud: I'm so fascinated by homicide detectives who, in many situations, and Sarah Linden is a fictional version of it, neglect their families and their marriages and their children in pursuit of justice for a person they've never met. I've seen cops over and over and over fall in love with that person, and it certainly isn't because they know them. And it certainly isn't just because they found pieces of the victim's life that they have deep compassion for. It's something about the cop themselves. It's about something they're trying to fix, potentially through this victim. That has always been so fascinating to me, when I meet a cop who has that one case. To try and explore that is what we're doing with Sarah and The Killing.
There was a very deliberate attempt to know a victim through the people who knew her. Ultimately, do you ever know anybody? Everyone knows a piece of Rosie Larsen. Everyone knows the Rosie that she showed them, or that she was able to show them. That's the great mystery, ultimately, that will help us understand what happened to her the night she was murdered. The essence of this girl, who she truly was, will eventually reveal what happened to her that night. That's why we can't know her fully yet.
What was the tipping point for Gwen [Kristin Lehman]? She'd been sitting on this information that Richmond was gone the night of Rosie's death — and came home dripping wet.
Sud: For me, it was the things we don't want to see about the men we love. No one will ever easily concede to the fact that the person they love might have murdered a child, even when the evidence is starting to slowly, potentially stack up against them. In the last few episodes, her resolve is slowly getting chipped away and for Gwen the final moment is when she realizes that Richmond lied to her. He was having an affair while he was seeing her.
And then he used the exact same words he used to play her that he used when he was confronted by Sarah. [Richmond reasons with both women using the words: "Look at me, you know that I am telling you the truth."] In that moment when she heard him say those words, she realized she'd been duped the whole time. This man didn't love her. He's an empty shell. In her mind, he left that night and he committed murder and she's no longer going to stand by him.
It's not clear yet whether or not Richmond is guilty of murder. What kinds of things did you say to Billy Campbell about how to play the councilman?
Sud: He's such a complex actor and that was a blessing for us. Billy is able to be such a good guy and really sell the fact that he's this good-hearted, wonderful boy-scout man of principle — and then turn on a dime the way he did on the show. The way he did in [the 2002 Jennifer Lopez thriller] Enough. He's able to really plumb the depths of both, which was such a blessing to have, and I was excited when I cast him knowing he could do that.
When the show returns, Sarah's probably going to be pretty angry, huh.
Sud: Unfortunately, I can't reveal anything for Season 2 creatively and specifically, but clearly she's been duped and betrayed in a really, really profound way by a man who she thought was not only her partner but her friend. So, I can say she has many choices at the end of this season about where she needs to go.
What did you think of the finale?