It’s All About The Ending

I have a theory. It’s all about the ending.  And delivering on your promise.

Fans were irate after AMC’s The Killing closed out its first season with a cliffhanger and many unanswered questions.  The show sprinted out of the gate.  Artistically, that is.  Critics and viewers fawned over the series, its lush cinematography, rain-drenched locale (Seattle), and mesmerizing characters — the people affected by the murder of a 16-year-old girl, Rosie Larsen.  For 13 episodes, The Killing followed  the detectives — Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder — hunting for Rosie’s killer, the young woman’s grieving family and the political staffers whose car was used as her tomb.

The posters promoting the show in every subway stop in New York featured the prominent scrawl, “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” As a viewer, you might reasonably expect to find out who the killer was by the end of season one.  Especially given the marketing tagline.  This show was built on the premise of finding Rosie’s killer, and the audience traveled through terrorist cells, call girl services, beatings, a funeral, political maneuvers and the local Seattle mob.  And, still, with just a few minutes to go, a major reveal about one of the characters called into question everything that had been revealed about him (say, what? Holder is going rogue?), and there is no definite answer about Rosie’s killer.

Imagine going to see Bridesmaids this spring and the film being just about the bake shop.  Or plunking down $120 dollars for The Book of Mormon on stage in New York and instead getting a musical about Revelation with the promise of a sequel about The Book of Mormon.

Art sometimes is most entertaining when it plays with the audience’s expectations, but the fine line is tipped when promises aren’t met.  It’s a wise lesson to learn.  If you are going to ask the question, “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?,” please be prepared to answer it.

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