By now, you have probably Netflix-binged The Killing‘s final season — and you no doubt have questions of the burning and nagging variety. (If you’re still making your way through the six-episode swan song, bookmark this story and return when you are finished.)
Well, we had questions too — loads of them. About that final scene. About the rumored Holder-Linden kiss. About the surprise cameo. About a possible fifth season. And, after talking to The Killing‘s puppet master Veena Sud, we now have answers.
TVLINE | Was it always your intention for Linden and Holder to pair up romantically in the end?
There were many different possibilities for how the story of Linden and Holder would end. That was one of them that we started to discuss at the beginning of this season, and that felt right. From the very beginning, I knew that her journey would have to end in a place of uneasy peace, where there were no good guys, there were no bad guys. There was a truce that she had to make with the world as it is versus the way she wanted the world to be. I always knew that finding that peace would be an inner journey at the very end for her. Holder says, “It’s not ghosts in front of you, it’s not the dead.” And that revelation of who is standing in front of her and who’s in her life was something that I instinctually knew [I wanted to get to] from the very beginning. I didn’t know it necessarily would be Holder. But seeing what’s in front of her and being present of that — the beauty of the world — was the place I wanted Sarah to get to at the end of her story. That’s one reason that visual of her standing in front of that beautiful cityscape in the main titles has been a recurring image over and over. It transforms over the course of the series. It’s a city of the dead that she’s looking at. And, in the end, it’s a city — ultimately — of the living. And that’s where she belongs.
TVLINE | Finding this peace allowed her to be open to a romantic relationship with Holder?
Finding the truth of what is in her life, and not running away… Linden is a runner. She runs away from everything in search of a better life. And she says that to Holder. “Home is here. And you are home. You are my best friend.”
TVLINE | Was the five-year time jump always in your plans as well?
I always knew that we would end the present-day story at the end of the season and come back five years later with Linden and Holder. The story would never end simply around the case, with Linden running away again. That would just feel like more of the same. There would always be a final reckoning between Holder and Linden. That final moment where she comes back, we viewed as the final movement of an opera. If there was anyplace where we could’ve possibly ended the story it would’ve been with her leaving Holder and permanently leaving Seattle forever. That would have been a very different end for the character. And she never would’ve found peace that way.
TVLINE | Were you on set when those two final scenes with Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman were shot?
Yes. The final shot [pictured, right] was the very last thing we shot. We organized it so that would be how everything would end. And it was tear-filled for Mireille, for myself, for Joel, for the crew… It was very bittersweet for all of us. We became a family and we loved these characters.
TVLINE | Was there much discussion or debate between the two actors about how it would go down?
There was no debate. At the beginning of the season, I sat down with Mireille and told her how her story would end, and she said not one word. Tears were just flowing from her eyes. And she looked at me and said, “It’s perfect. This is the end that she deserves.” I told Joel separately as well, and he got teary. And he said, “Let’s not talk any more about it. Let’s save it for the moment.” So, on the day, both of the actors felt like [they were conveying] the truth of these characters. And they did it so beautifully. Everyone was nervous about that last scene, of course. We were all really quiet during rehearsal and during lighting. And then when we were all done, that’s when everyone cried and hugged.
TVLINE | There’s a rumor that a kiss was filmed and not used. True?
It was not filmed. I knew I never wanted to film a kiss. That would have felt a little too pat. But, at one point, Jonathan Demme — who directed the finale — did a lovely crane shot that I decided not to use in the end. But it was a crane shot that tracked Holder approaching Linden, and then — discreetly before they came together — [the camera panned] away. So the crane shot dollies away and looks over this beautiful river and we’re looking at the skyline, but Joel and Mireille continued their action, which was him walking towards her, looking at each other and then… they didn’t really know what to do next. [Laughs] So they kissed! The funniest thing is, everyone was clustered around the monitors looking at the shot and the script supervisor and my producer, Kristen Campo, were the only people looking on the ground at Mireille and Joel, and Campos kept nudging me, “Look! Look!” And I was like, “I am! I’m looking at the shot!” So I never saw the kiss, but they did.
TVLINE | So Linden and Holder finally kissed and it wasn’t caught on tape?
No, it wasn’t. [Laughs]
TVLINE | That’s pretty funny. OK, moving on to other hot topics. Billy Campbell’s return as Richmond was a nice surprise. How did that come about?
It felt very natural that the final person who would pull the rug out from under Linden would be a man who had become her nemesis. They started out in a similar kind of world of attempting good and wanting good. But he went to the dark side. And rather than having an anonymous sergeant or lieutenant giving her the news ahead of the police commissioner, it [made sense that it] would be the mayor. And he would relish giving her the news. So we called Billy and said we’d love for you to come back, and he said, “Just tell me when.”
TVLINE | Why would someone as smart as Linden return to the scene of the crime to dispose of crucial evidence? I’m referring to her getting rid of the cell phone at the lake house.
We do stupid things when we commit crimes. The fallacy is that any of us are Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie. When we’re emotional, as clearly she was during and after this very unexpected event, people do really dumb things. And going back to the lake, for her, was, “Let me close this up emotionally. Let me say goodbye.” She loved this man. She loved him deeply — for a long time. And she killed him. And she hated him. And she was repulsed by him. So in the miasma of all of these emotions, she made a bad move.
TVLINE | Similarly, Holder — who had a lot to lose if the truth about Skinner’s murder got out, as he made very clear to Linden — pretty much confessed to the crime at his AA meeting. That also seemed a little sloppy.
The reality, and a lot of cops will tell you this, is that people want to talk. We’re not sociopaths by nature. For the most part, we’re human beings who do bad things, feel bad about them, want to confess, want to explain ourselves, want to have a reason for why we did what we did. I think that they reacted in a way that bad guys do all the time. So, yes, both of them should have known better.
TVLINE | The scene where Linden was closely tailing Skinner’s daughter in her car as the girl rode her bicycle – what would have happened had that other car not swerved in front of her?
My feeling is, Linden — at the last possible moment — would’ve stopped herself anyway [from running her over]. Throughout this season, we see both Linden and Holder going to the edge and coming back. And letting these darker emotions rule them in a way that, in this very unique circumstance in life, they’ve never had to confront. So I believe in her heart she would never kill a child; that’s not who she is. But the agony of watching this child — this hanging chad — that keeps coming back over and over to make things worse and worse for her, certainly tempted her.
TVLINE | Did Kyle end up going to jail for the murders or did Col. Rayne take the fall for him?
No, Kyle did.
TVLINE | You previously told me that Season 4 was definitely the end of the road for the show, but Holder and Linden are still alive. And, as one of my readers suggested, a big murder — like, say, Holder’s daughter — would be just the thing to pull both of them back into their old jobs…
[Laughs] We brought her to the end of her journey. She found the thing that she was looking for all along. It’s the end of the story.