Would you watch if the dynamic duo of Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder were given another case to tackle? Could you stomach the inevitable stream of red herrings to come if The Killing was granted a third season? AMC brass are likely exploring that question right now.
Sunday’s finale was the culmination of a rocky ride for the Veena Sud show. The Killing debuted to impressive numbers back in April 2011 (2.7 million viewers watching the pilot). On top of those auspicious stats, the pilot was almost universally praised for its direction, writing and, of course, acting (Mirelle Enos and Joel Kinnaman were immediately declared rock stars).
What came to follow was a precipitous fall from grace; fans of the show began to retreat as the red herrings were served fast and furious and without apology. Each episode proved to be an exercise in futility as the investigation trail switched back and forth from hot to cold. The final straw for many was the Season 1 finale (watched by 2.2 million viewers); Sud made the decision to stretch Rosie Larsen murder case into the second season. Viewers were outraged, many declaring to never watch the show again.
And they weren’t lying.
Season 2 never saw north of 2 million couch-detectives, starting out with 1.8 million viewers in the season premiere and averaging some 1.6 million viewers over 13 episodes. Its finale appeared to be a whimper – only 1.45 million showed up for 9 PM finale Sunday night, though competition was fierce this Sunday with the True Blood Season 5 premiere and other cable distractions like The Kardashians. The encore presentation of the finale drew in another 500,000 viewers, and I’m sure many more viewed it via DVR and online streaming.
There is an audience there, albeit a relatively small one. But how many of those that stayed just needed closure? How many would return if The Killing got the Season 3 greenlight?
The show, no doubt, has fans that enjoyed every last minute of its two seasons, but what percentage of total viewers have already moved on? Are The Killing faithful ready to put their trust in the hands of Sud again with a new case?
Personally, I stuck around for both seasons, though I was one of pitchfork-toting viewers after the Season 1 finale. I calmed down and came around, mainly because I needed closure (Added bonus: Kinnaman has always been comedic gold). In the end, I liked the ending; the disclosure of Terry as the killer provided the ultimate shock (though it was predicted well before the reveal). I wasn’t terribly pleased that it relied on the insanity of the culprit (same with Jamie and his about face), but it worked for me. Would I watch a third season? Only if it was declared up front that the new murder case was contained to one season. The Rosie Larsen case could’ve easily been condensed to one season, with the writers introducing a new case for Season 2. Under this scenario, I doubt there would’ve been as much backlash as the show has gotten in its short run.
Sure, this will inevitably be an economic decision for AMC. But if you’re casting your ballot how would you vote? Should The Killing live to see another day?