“The Past Can’t Be Washed Away.”
That cryptic tagline — accompanied by an ominous shot of Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) staring out at a cloud-covered Puget Sound — paints a foreboding and gloomy picture of The Killing‘s fourth and final season on Netflix.
And that’s very much by design, according to series creator Veena Sud.
“Sometimes you cross a line that you can’t uncross, and that’s what’s happened to Sarah at the end of Season 3,” explains Sud of the show’s leading lady and [SPOILER ALERT!] newly-minted cop killer. “She’s going to be dealing with the incredible fallout from her actions.”
Scroll down for an exclusive first look at the Season 4 poster, and then scroll down further for a fresh Q&A with Sud about the death-defying drama’s six-episode swan song. Plus: Is this really the end of the road for Linden and Holder?
TVLINE | You probably could’ve filled these final six episodes with the fallout from Linden shooting Skinner. But you’re also introducing a major new murder case featuring Joan Allen — how come?
Linden has always been a very busy woman. [Laughs] This final season is this bullet train towards the end of the story of Sarah Linden. Not only is she dealing with the massive fallout from her own actions, but she’s dealing with a case that is going to bring up the guilt that she harbors because of what she did. There’s no escape for her. This case is going to be a reflection of her own actions. It’s going to make her face the truth of what happened at the end of Season 3. Every moment is a mirror looking back at her.
TVLINE | Will the new case have any ties to the Rosie Larsen murder or last season’s serial killer story?
No. This final case is more symbolic of Linden’s journey and the question that [she's been asking] her entire life as a cop, which is, “Who is the bad guy?” Her ethic for her whole entire life as a cop has been the world has to be black and white. There has to be good guys, there has to be bad guys. There has to be a clear vision of justice in this world. And clearly there is not. Clearly there is a monster in all of us.
TVLINE | Will the tone be as dark as previous seasons?
There are always Holder-isms in every season. [Laughs] But because of the burden of what happened at the end of last season, there’s a whole other set of dark rain clouds [hanging] over our detectives. The personal stakes are so much higher this season than the last [three]. This is really the endgame for our two detectives. Not only are they chasing a killer out there who murdered an entire family, but they’re also dealing with their own actions and questioning their own moral compass.
TVLINE | Last season Holder and Linden nearly shared a kiss — will you further explore whatever romantic tension exists between them in the final season?
This season [they] are closer than they’ve ever been because of what happened at the end of last season. They’re tied together in this secret. They’re in this kind of unholy alliance. So that relationship over the course of the season will actually start to push and pull. They’re partners on this very intense investigation, but the trust between these two will start to chafe and there will be cracks in their friendship and their partnership because of this secret. In terms of romance, the question [surrounding] intimacy between a man and a woman who work together will remain. I don’t want to give anything away, but that question and the possibility between Linden and Holder — two people who are ultimately the same animal – will absolutely continue to exist deliciously.
TVLINE | Linden’s son Jack was absent from Season 3. Will he be back?
He will be back. Because this is the final season, all questions will be answered, including Sarah’s relationship with her son. There will be a final reckoning in terms of their relationship.
TVLINE | We’re also going to meet Linden’s mom, played by Frances Fisher. What will their dynamic be like?
That relationship — that abandonment at a young age — has been the primary wound of Sarah’s life. There will [also] be a final reckoning between mother and daughter. And Sarah’s questions of why she was lost as a 5-year-old will be answered.
TVLINE | The show has been cancelled — and subsequently uncancelled — twice now. Can you definitively confirm that Season 4 is the end?
[Laughs] The way we end the season will make it the final season. It’s the way I’ve wanted to end the story from the very beginning. There’s an image that I knew would be one of the final images of Sarah Linden from the very start. From Day 1. I just feel extremely, extraordinarily grateful and lucky to have this final season to end this story the way I wanted to from the very beginning. So, unless another writer wants to come in and continue to tell the story, it will be the final season.