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[Warning: Do not read if you have not watched The Killing season finale.]
The Killing ended season three with the reveal of the Pied Piper and one bold move by Sarah Linden.
After 12 episodes of twists and turns, the ruthless serial killer who targeted young teens living on the streets of Seattle was unmasked: Lieutenant James Skinner (Elias Koteas). For star Mireille Enos, the killer’s reveal came in the days leading up to filming of the season closer. “I had my suspicions, but I didn’t know for sure until right before,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter the day after Sunday’s two-hour episode.
Linden’s discovery of Skinner’s connection to the deaths of teen girls was the straw that broke the camel’s back, with Linden shooting and killing Skinner in the dead of night. So where does Linden go from here?
In a chat with THR, Enos discusses Sunday’s killer reveal, her thoughts on Linden’s move and what a hypothetical season four could entail.
The Hollywood Reporter: When did you find out that Skinner was the killer?
Mireille Enos: I knew that we were narrowing down [the list], and it was looking like things were pointing to [Detective Carl] Reddick, which probably meant it wasn’t Reddick. I had my suspicions, but I didn’t know for sure until right before.
THR: Were you surprised that the Pied Piper was Skinner?
Enos: No. It made sense, because that’s the person that would be the most painful for Sarah. And it just made everything make sense, like the [Ray] Seward case and why she’s never been able to get any traction in terms of it not being him. It just made so much sense, and that’s why it was a great ending.
THR: In the finale, Skinner alluded to the idea that Linden must have had suspicions about him.
Enos: I don’t think Sarah actually suspected Skinner, but she definitely knew that something was wrong. She knew that something was off, and that nobody would listen to her, and because her relationship with Skinner at the time was complicated. They were lovers, and he was married, and she just allowed herself to be steered away from knowing that something was wrong. But I don’t believe that Sarah knew that Skinner was the one killing these girls.
THR: The last few episodes of the season were incredibly intense. Did you approach them differently than other episodes in the season, knowing the story was wrapping up?
Enos: The show is intense. For all three seasons there’s been moments of intensity. Episode eight was really intense for me. Episode 10 was definitely very intense, and it’s a really safe set and there’s wonderful people, and you just kind of show up and tell whatever part of the story you’re telling that day.
THR: Looking back, now that you’re one month removed from filming the finale, was there a particular moment or line from the season that could have clued you in on the killer?
Enos: I don’t think so, because Elias [Koteas] didn’t know that he was the killer either until a week before. I think [ep] Veena [Sud] cloaked it really well, and I think the character that she was creating was someone who was capable of living this double life completely effectively, so I don’t think there were any big tip-offs.
THR: Were you happy with the way the reveal was made, with Linden discovering the ring on his daughter’s finger?
Enos: I don’t know if you remember, but there were a few episodes — in fact, it’s kind of early in the season — where Holden and Sarah were having a conversation about the mind of the serial killer and how this kind of trophy-taking behavior is textbook, and how sometimes they even give these trophies to their wives or girlfriends so they can relive the event. That had been imbedded way back then, and I didn’t think anything of it then. I thought it was really clever that all those episodes later, Veena used that bit of information in the way that I discovered the truth.
THR: How did you react to Linden’s decision to kill Skinner?
Enos: I think it’s a really complicated decision. I don’t think it was Sarah at her best, obviously, but the dynamic of that relationship — she had been powerless for so many years, and he was the cause of so much turmoil which she didn’t even know he was the cause of. But the fact that she went to the psych hospital was largely due to the Seward case, and then Seward would be allowed to die, and then end up being beaten up by Joe Mills (Ryan Robbins). He could have easily been killed by Joe Mills; all of this had been in Skinner’s hands, and he was the person that held her greatest possibility for happiness. And all of that got destroyed, and got destroyed in such a violent way that I could understand her doing it.
THR: In that particular moment and the context of the situation, that was justified?
Enos: To say it was justified would make it sound like it was rational thinking, and I think it was outside of rational thinking, but strangely enough, it was an act of love, too, because in some ways, she sacrificed herself for him.
THR: Did you agree with how she went about the confrontation with Skinner?
Enos: It was understandable to me, yeah; it was understandable to me how that could happen.
THR: The big question now is, where does Linden go from here?
Enos: Well, that is the huge question, isn’t it? It will be interesting to see what season four — if there is one — holds. Whether they come clean or whether they try to bury it, and then if they bury it, what that means about Joe Mills. It’s very complicated.
THR: Have you been privy to viewer response about the cliffhanger ending?
Enos: Is this is a cliffhanger? I don’t feel like this is really a cliffhanger; I feel like it was pretty final in the moment, and then the story continues. Just like in every episodic [series], the story continues. So I don’t actually see it as a cliffhanger.
THR: What was it like for you to see Linden happy, even though it wasn’t permanent?
Enos: It was wonderful; it was so wonderful to have her have some happiness. By the time we were shooting those scenes, I was already aware of where it was going, so it made it all the more poignant.
THR: Episode 10 was a crucial episode for the show, and critics have hailed it. How significant was “Six Minutes” for you?
Enos: I think it was really incredibly brave writing on Veena’s part. She had strong opinions about the death penalty, and to go ahead and tell that story, we all felt like we were engaged in something really special. And Nicole Kassell was the director for that episode — we just think she’s remarkable. Obviously Peter [Sarsgaard] is incredible. There’s an interesting conversation where [Ray] talks about the fact that even though he hadn’t done that [killed his wife], he had done lots of other horrible things. There were things of forgiveness and redemption, and showing up for another human being. I think it was a really important piece of TV.
THR: Have the producers or the writers told you anything about where season four could go in terms of the story?
Enos: No, they haven’t. Veena said — when they were breaking season three and they decided to have this ending — they talked immensely about the possibilities, but nothing is in place.
THR: Do you have any particular specific wishes on how Linden’s story gets wrapped up if we do see the story continue?
Enos: I know that Veena loves this character. It would be so wonderful, after everything, to find Sarah ultimately in a place of peace, but I don’t know what that road looks like.
THR: Are you hopeful that you’ll be returning for a fourth season?
Enos: Yes, definitely. Absolutely.
THR: What do you have coming up?
Enos: I’m going to be shooting a lovely movie in the fall called If I Stay. It’s [with] Chloe Moretz and a whole bunch of other wonderful people, so that’s exciting. Otherwise, I’m having some downtime with my family.
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