Update 11/15 at 6 p.m. ET: AMC canceled The Killing on Sept. 10. On Nov. 15, long live The Killing: Netflix has renewed the show for a six-episode fourth and final season. It will air exclusively on Netflix.
According to the press release that served as the announcement, Veena Sud, who adapted The Killing from the Danish original and has been the show's executive producer since Season 1, will continue with the show. Most important for fans, Mireille Enos will be back as Linden and Joel Kinnaman will return as Holder.
In the story below, which I wrote in July, I outlined The Killing's renewal chances. It had come back from the dead for its third season in a three-way partnership among AMC, Netflix, and Fox Television Studios (which produces the show). Clearly AMC did not feel it had the incentive to continue with the mystery drama, but Netflix and FTVS did.
Considering the brutal cliffhanger on which Season 3 ended, I will simply finish this update by saying whew.
Having cheated death once, will The Killing have an easier time with renewal going forward?
I talked with executive producer Veena Sud last week for this story about the once-mocked show's third season comeback, and when I asked about the show's future, Sud, who would love for The Killing to continue, said: "We don't know yet. I think we're going to find out soon."
The Killing was canceled a year ago after its ratings went down in its second season due to a torrent of viewer backlash. Its first season had averaged 2.2 million viewers; Season 2 drew 1.5 million. AMC ended up bringing the mystery drama back, though, after forging a three-way deal with Fox Television Studios and Netflix. FTVS considers The Killing a valuable property, and therefore opted to license it to AMC for less, and Netflix will get early streaming rights for Season 3.
It was a complicated deal. "My job is half creative/half business," said AMC's president and general manager, Charlie Collier, in a recent interview. "To have FTVS, Netflix, and us come together and build something that could sustain, when the show admittedly wasn't what we had hoped in the second year, was great."
The Season 3 ratings have been on par with Season 2's, averaging 1.5 million viewers. Yes, those same ratings that got the show canceled the first time — but as Vulture's Josef Adalian pointed out when The Killing was first un-canceled, "The ratings for The Killing weren't great, but they weren't awful either."
With the show's new economic model in place, Collier said of The Killing's chances for renewal, "We'll let the season end and then make our decision. We lost some momentum, but the time-shifting has helped us."
David Madden, the president of FTVS, mentioned time-shifting as well in an email. "We hope that after the finale airs, and all the DVR numbers are also calculated, the math will come out in our favor and we'll get the opportunity to tell a new and different story in Season 4 — Veena already has some bold ideas."
Both Collier and Madden are pleased with the show qualitatively. "We're incredibly proud of The Killing and how the season has been received so far, notably by those who were skeptics last season," wrote Madden. And Collier, who gushed about co-stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman ("I could watch Joel and Mireille just talk to each other"); the season's guest star Peter Sarsgaard ("It's unreal"); and newcomer Bex Taylor-Klaus ("You do have the sense that you discovered something"), said: "I think creatively, it's our best season yet. I think the fans are responding; the core passionate fans have returned."
The two-hour finale, which will resolve this season's whodunit, airs on Sunday. "We'll get the numbers on the finale," Collier said. "You hope to see some positive momentum."
In reference to AMC's affection for the show, Madden wrote, "I think their fingers are crossed as tightly as ours are."