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‘LOST’ Co-Creator Damon Lindelof Defends ‘The Killing’ Finale

Damon Lindelof on The Killing
Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images / AMC

When ‘ The Killing‘ ended its freshman season hot-streak on an unfulfilled conclusion with more twists than answers, even loyal viewers of the Danish-imported series cried foul.  So with ‘ The Killing’ set to premiere its second season on April 1, an unlikely source has come to the defense of the controversial “Orpheus Descending.”

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, ‘LOST‘ co-creator Damon Lindelof has decided to speak up and defend the season 1 finale of ‘The Killing,’ particularly in light of a similar reaction ‘LOST’ consistently faced, especially in its series finale.  I myself am in the midst of catching up on ‘The Killing’ in time for Season 2, though I’m aware of the stigma surrounding the finale, and was eager to see what contributions Lindelof could make.  Lindelof has been notably outspoken in defense of ‘LOST’s own controversial ending, and even finds himself in public controversy now and again, last year for his war of words with ‘Game of Thrones‘ creator George R.R. Martin.

As someone who themselves was particularly dissatisfied with ‘LOST’s conclusion, you can imagine Lindelof might have a tough time changing my mind.

Of course, Lindelof argues in his column that we shouldn’t villify writers for taking risks with the material, that in fact ‘The Killing’ had established itself as far deeper than a simple murder-mystery, its audience feeling cheated by the “Who Killed Rosie Larsen” tagline that seemed to promise a resolution by the end of the season.  Says Lindelof of the series:

There would be profound meditations on grief. Red herrings. Investigative dead ends. These are the things that drew us to it in the first place … so in some way, shouldn’t we have expected a lack of resolution? More importantly, it was either incredibly stupid or incredibly bold not to give us what we were demanding. I am inclined to believe it was the latter, and here’s why:

The minute we start vilifying writers for taking risks, we become complicit in an effort to make television boring. I am not interested in the dive where the guy just jumps off the board and flawlessly splishes into the water. I want to watch the one where there is a high probability he will belly flop so devastatingly that even the traditionally emotionless German judge cringes in empathy.

Arguing that “misleads are sorta the point of the show,” Lindelof too defended his own ‘LOST’ finale, and not only the writer’s right to be bold and unexpected, but their right to respond to critics and justify their decisions.  Fair enough, Damon.  Fair enough.

Of course, I would counter-argue that as far as ‘LOST,’ Damon did indeed make a conscious choice to focus on wrapping up the series’ emotional threads and ignore many of the lingering buzz-worthy mysteries, but that the writer also refused to accept the consequences of that decision.  ‘LOST’ owed its success to the water-cooler discussions, and the weekly mysteries that proved so edgeworthy.  Artistically, I understand the choice to keep the finale grounded in emotion, but believe the writers should accept that they’ve alienated legions of their fans in doing so.  In a way, it was unavoidable.

Of course, sometimes the defense of a TV episode can change viewers’ minds.  I remember finding myself infuriated by the second season finale of ‘Breaking Bad,’ and its seemingly mis-directive reveal that the plane crash was the source of the mysterious destruction seen in flash-forwards throughout the season.  Yet, in post-finale discussions with series creator Vince Gilligan, I can to understand the finale represented a larger picture, one in which Walter’s character had created ripple effects throughout the universe the destroyed the ones he loved.

As far as ‘The Killing,’ even without having a complete picture of the first season it seems to me that it would have been foolish to entirely wrap up Rosie Larsen’s murder within a single season, AMC never the type to simply reboot in time for next year.  ‘The Killing’ is also far younger than ‘LOST,’ and as such, more than deserves another season to establish itself beyond the supposedly-aggravating finale.  Though I don’t necessarily agree with Damon Lindelof’s rationale, his message is right on target.

You can read the entirety of Damon Lindelof’s piece here, and check out ‘The Killing’s 2-hour season premiere this Sunday, April 1 on AMC.

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