Lost's Damon Lindelof Defends The Killing's Controversial Season Finale

Even if you didn't watch AMC's The Killing last year, you almost certainly heard that the show's season finale was not received well by the fans, to put it mildly. It was damn near impossible to avoid the outrage last June because pretty much everyone who had committed thirteen weeks of their life to the show was making their anger known, publically and loudly. They bitched about it to friends. They bitched about it online. Some of us even rented out soapboxes and bitched about it in the public square. We had been lured in by the mystery of who killed Rosie Larsen, only to be short-sheeted when the season finale revealed that the identity of the killer was...somebody.

I can't take credit for that joke, by the way. It actually comes from the brain of Damon Lindelof, a guy who knows a thing or two about dealing with fan expectations. After having been through the wringer with Lost's controversial ending, Lindelof has taken to the pages of The Hollywood Reporter to defend The Killing, and by extension showrunner Veena Sud. He argues that holding back the identity of Rosie's killer was actually an incredibly bold move on the show's part. As he explains:

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. And friends, I have had my fair share of belly flops.

Lindelof, of course, compares the fan criticism of The Killing to the angry barbs he received over the ending of Lost, and in theory I absolutely agree with him. TV should not be written by fan committee, and giving the fans what they think they want is often the very worst way to run any sort of creative endeavor, be it film, TV show, or video game. However, there is one crucial difference between Lost's situation and that of The Killing. Lost had plenty of creative choices that pissed off fans over the course of its six-season run, but the most controversial -- the series finale -- was, by definition, the end. Fans might not like the way the show wrapped things up, but it did wrap them up, and the show now exists as a completed work, capable of being revisited and discussed and debated.

The Killing, however, is only one season in. Even if you argue that The Killing's decision not to reveal Rosie's killer was a bold move rather than a misstep, there are many, many viewers who would disagree with you...and who are now former viewers. We can talk storytelling theory till we're all blue in the face, but the simple bottom line is that, well intentioned or not, The Killing's first season finale was the last episode of the show many of us will ever watch. So I've got another philosophical question to pose to Ms. Sud and Mr. Lindelof: If you make a "bold" show, but in the process you drive off a huge chunk of your audience, does that still count as a win?