The Killing has been cancelled as many times as it has seasons. Thanks to a weirdly aggressive cultural conversation surrounding the first finale, and total dead air thereafter, it's safe to say few of us can accurately say whether the show got better, worse, or really any other adjective.
In my opinion, the show's third season was buoyed by the controversy, creatively and emotionally: It distilled what was beloved in the first and dropped everything else. That last year, the show focused on Seattle's homeless teens and a mesmerizing Death Row inmate played by Peter Saarsgard, dropping its beloved stars (Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman) into a crazy hell that ended up reaching all the way back into Sarah Linden's past, and resulting in her game-changing murder of a fellow cop.
Now the show is back for a final season, premiering on Netflix August 1, and it seems to take a similar approach: By juxtaposing the murders in a military academy with Linden and Holder's guilt, the show can end properly, isolating those two maniacs with their madness and making the investigation of this latest killing, as usual, a tool for unraveling their own darkness.
If you haven't seen The Killing lately, or were alienated by that first-season controversy, it might be worth skipping forward to the third sometime this month—all three past seasons are now available, as part of the resurrection deal—because honestly, everything about this final season seems poised to redeem it all.