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‘Killing’ finale spurs strong reactions

Some blast AMC drama for ambiguity in season 1 closer

If AMC’s intent was to create buzz following the season finale of “The Killing,” consider it mission accomplished.

But for many of the 2.3 million viewers who tuned in, buzz didn’t equate to happiness or even the satisfaction of having the murder mystery wrapped. To the frustration of many, it didn’t wrap.

For such prominent TV crix as Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix.com and Maureen Ryan of AOL, their reaction to the episode titled “Orpheus Descending” was seething hatred.

Near the top of Ryan’s scathing recap of the episode, she wrote: “Strap yourselves in, folks. Get ready for the angriest television-related screed I think I’ve ever written. I’m not sure how to start, except to say that I hated the season finale of ‘The Killing’ with the burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns.”

Not even David Chase turning the TV screen black for the series ender of “The Sopranos” got that kind of response.

Overall, the aud turnout for “The Killing” finale was down from the 2.7 million that checked out the series opener in April. But viewership of the closer was on par with the series’ average across its 13-episode run.

Like many AMC series, “Killing” engendered a passionate fan following from the get-go. In the series pilot, a teenage girl in Seattle has been found drowned in the trunk of a car.

Through the remaining segs, exec producer Veena Sud and her writing team wove an intricate plot that involved a politician (Billy Campbell) campaigning to be mayor, a family in grief and police detectives, played by Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, doggedly chasing down false leads in the high-profile murder case.

A car used in the campaign was the one in which the girl was killed, and Campbell is, therefore, linked to the case. Each episode covered a day in the life of the investigation.

Said Sepinwall: ” ‘Orpheus Descending’ itself is a mess, and an insult to the audience who have stuck around for the last three months. And based on my conversation with Sud, it sounds like we’re getting more of the same next year.

“So this will be the last review I write of ‘The Killing,’ because this will be the last time I watch ‘The Killing.’ Because I have no interest in going forward with a show that treats its audience this way.”

The series was tubthumped with the tagline “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” However, in hindsight it’s clear that neither AMC nor Sud promised to tell auds who Rosie’s killer was when the season ended, though clearly a vast majority of viewers were expecting concrete closure instead of a multi-pronged cliffhanger.

Sud spoke to Variety this weekend and said she didn’t feel constrained to pinpoint a killer in the first season, in keeping with the storytelling style of the Danish series, “Forbrydelsen,” on which “The Killing” is based.

The Larsen killing storyline will continue into the next season, which will also delve into a new case.

“?’Forbrydelsen’ went for 20 episodes its first season and there was material there I was potentially interested in exploring. But since our first season is only 13 episodes, I didn’t have enough real estate this season to do it, thus the desire to have more time,” Sud explained.

“Also, from the very beginning I was striving to avoid any sort of formulaic approach, really turn the genre — and expectations of the genre as we’ve come to know it — on its head.

“So I, and my writers, tossed out every notion of when this investigation will end and let it play out in an organic manner, without a set timeline for solving the case.”

An insider close to the series said Monday of the mostly visceral critical reaction, “I love that there is passion there and people are forming an opinion. That’s the basis for great television.”

And as for the negative response to the lack of a concrete payoff in the finale, the insider added: “It’s unfair. We’re making a TV show. It’s not like we stole an hour of their time.”

That was also the opinion of one commentor on Sepinwall’s blog: “It’s just a TV show, people. Sheesh.”