When "The Killing" debuted in April 2011, it was hailed as a breath of fresh air from procedural cop dramas as it told the intensely personal story about the murder of a young girl named Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay). Fans and critics alike embraced the show for sharing the focus with the unconventional homicide detectives Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) with Rosie's grieving family and the doomed mayoral campaign of Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell).
However, the honeymoon was over by end of the season as viewers complained about the series' slow pace and the numerous red herrings. When the first season finale did not reveal Rosie Larsen's killer as expected, a sizable portion of the audience flew into a rage.
And that history may be about to repeat itself.
During a feature on "The Killing" in the latest issue of Written By magazine, showrunner Veena Sud answers her critics and the article ends unequivocally with this line: "For the record, who killed Rosie Larsen will not be revealed until the end of season two."
From the tone of the article, it's clear that Sud was stung by the harsh online criticism, including insinuations that Sud's writing decisions came because she's a Muslim woman with an agenda (BTW, Sud is not Muslim) and others that suggested "The Killing" would "be better with a man at the helm."
"I started to realize that I shouldn't read it," explained Sud. "Because I shouldn't get swept up too much in either the very good or the very bad, because then it'll start exerting maybe a subconscious influence on how we write, or the story direction. As a writer, at least I know for myself [that] you have to protect yourself... I'm easily hurt, or not good at taking criticism. So it's better to be aware of things you can do better but not frighten yourself."
"Our intent was not to mislead or betray," continued Sud. "We talked about it. How could you not? We talked about the fans, and their passion and all of the stuff that was being said. But the bottom line is we close the door and we're a bunch of people in the room, and our job was — and continues to be — to tell the story that feels right by us," before later adding "this is not a committee thing."
Before we wrap up here, I want to offer some commentary on this issue. In some regards, Sud has the right attitude about wanting to remain true to the story that she envisioned. Unfortunately, when a sizable portion of your audience openly rebels against your planned story direction than it's something that should be taken to heart.
The best comparison I can make to "The Killing" is "Twin Peaks;" which quickly developed a rabid fan following in the '90s while tantalizing viewers with the murder of Laura Palmer. But the writers of that show misread the patience of the audience so much, that by the time the killer was revealed the interest in the show had already peaked (pun not intended). "Twin Peaks" flamed out after two seasons, which is a fate that could also befall "The Killing."
Anyone who bashed Sud's writing on the basis of her gender or presumed religious background were completely out of line and don't know what they're talking about. That said, Sud's admitted inability to handle criticism projects an air of tone-deafness towards some valid concerns about the creative direction of "The Killing." Several episodes in season one of "The Killing" felt like they were filler stories that were only in place to allow the big revelation that many fans expected to take place in the season finale.
More than anything else, TV viewers like closure. And they can turn against a show on a dime. Essentially, Sud and her writers are betting that viewer interest in the story will outweigh the perceived outrage of waiting an additional 13 episodes for the answers that they wanted at the end of season one.