Episode 13 of "The Killing": "Orpheus Descending"

Slate's Culture Blog
June 20 2011 8:53 AM

Episode 13 of "The Killing": "Orpheus Descending"

[Caution:  There are spoilers ahead!  So ifyou haven't yet watched "Orpheus Descending," come back when you have andshare your thoughts and theories. If you need a refresher, read our write-upsof episode  threefourfivesixseveneightnine , eleven , and twelve .You can also check out AMC's  helpfulplot recaps .]

Last week, ateaser for the season finale of TheKilling promised a final five minutes "so shocking" that we'd be talkingabout them all summer. I'm not so sure about that, but I do know that lastnight's capper had Slate staffers howling in frustration and then ranting for ahalf hour or so, before we all got tired and petered out.

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The lastthing I have written in my notes from last night is, "I'm so pissed off." Andjudging by some of thecomments on AMC's online forum , I'm not the only one who was annoyed by thefinale's non-ending of an ending. At the time it felt like a cop-out and an even biggernarrative crime these days a middle finger to an already aggrieved audience. Thenew mysteries it raised seemed more befuddling than intriguing. When, exactly, isHolder supposed to have gone rogue and gotten involved in the attempt to frameRichmond? One Slate ster noted that it had to have been sometime during thisepisode, since at the end of "BeauSoleil," the audience watches as Holder goes to the corner of Fifth andJackson, spots the campaign poster, and realizes that Richmond is Orpheus. But ifhe's already trying to pin the murder on him, then why does he look sosurprised? There's no one there for him to be acting for, so presumably hegenuinely is surprised. Anything that makes Joel Kinnaman more central to the story makes me happy, but I'm not thrilled at the prospect of his character turning on a dime for the sake of a cliffhanger.

Meanwhile, ifit was Mayor Adams in that car, does that mean he's supposed to have killedRosie? Or somehow discovered Richmond's connection to Beau Soleil (throughDrexler?) and then tried to take advantage of it? Those of us who gathered lastnight spent some time trying to work out the possibilities, but in the end we justdidn't feel compelled enough to bust out the graph paper and start drawing uptimelines. Everyone still seems wide open as a suspect, and if there's onething The Killing has taught us, it'sthat there's no point in getting too hung up on whatever you see in the finalfive minutes of an episode.

Thismorning, though, strangely, I feel much more satisfied with the way things turned out.Last week I said that I didn't think there was a single character whoseconfession would make for a satisfying season capper, and I still feel thatway. If we'd found out that it was, in fact, Richmond or Terry or Gwen, theleading suspects in our group how could it not have felt flat anddisappointing, like a little wet fart of an ending? At least this tactic got myfur up, and leaves open the possibility that the mystery can, in fact, bewrapped up in a satisfying way. (I'm nothing if not a cockeyed optimist.) Itmay have been crude, but it was effective. I'll be checking back next season though most likely from the safe remove of my DVR.

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Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.