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Final season of Netflix's 'The Killing' gets even darker, transforms characters

Joel Kinnaman (left) and Mireille Enos (right) are pictured in a scene from Netflix's "The Killing" Season 4. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO, Netflix - Carole Segal

TORONTO – Detective Sarah Linden from Netflix’s “The Killing” spent the first three seasons searching for killers and in the show’s fourth and final season, she doesn’t need to look too far.

“She has spent her whole life looking for the monster and now she is the monster,” said Mireille Enos, who plays Linden, in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

The latest instalment picks up immediately after season 3’s finale, where it was revealed the serial killer Linden and her partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) were tracking was actually their colleague James Skinner (Montreal’s Elias Koteas), whom Linden was having an affair with.

“She not only killed someone but killed the person she loved the most,” said Enos.

Linden also managed to make her partner Holder an accomplice. The pair spend the final season, which begins streaming on Netflix on Aug. 1, trying to cover up the killing while the truth is being pursued by another detective, Carl Reddick (Gregg Henry).

Their shared secret transforms their relationship, said Enos.

“It both makes them more intimate and makes them more capable of hurting one another,” said Enos.

The offbeat pair — Linden being serious and brooding and Holder, a playful but tough-talking former addict who is obsessed with organic food — struggle to keep the emotional fallout of the murder from seeping into other parts of their lives and as deeply flawed characters, aren’t able to fully support each other through the ordeal.

What makes the characters unique for Enos is that they’re not always likable.

“I think we tend to draw our heroes as people that we like,” Enos said. “Both she and Holder are anti-heroes and somehow we love them but it doesn’t mean we have to agree with their choices.”

Enos earned an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Linden in 2011 and was the first female lead in an AMC series. The TV network dropped the series in its final season, leaving it to be viewed exclusively on Netflix.

The show is based on the Danish series “Forbrydelsen” and was adapted by Canadian-born showrunner Veena Sud (“Cold Case”) first for AMC.

The season’s six-episode format is a departure from its former 13-episode packaging, but the first four episodes available for preview maintained its hallmark slow-burning pace with bursts of intensity.

This pacing proved to be a little too slow for critics in season 1, which tracked the murder investigation of a teenage girl. Critics and viewers alike were enraged when the killer wasn’t revealed in the finale, prompting harsh reviews, including from Maureen Ryan of Huffington Post who described it as “astoundingly awful.”

This pushed the show to pursue the more formulaic, albeit less angst-inducing, format of revealing the killer at the end of the season in its third instalment.

What has stayed consistent is the esthetic of perpetual gloom that not even the Pacific Northwest maintains year-round. The show is set in Seattle but shot in Vancouver, explaining Linden’s permanent presence in bulky knit sweaters and washed out jeans.

Enos laughs at the mention of her wardrobe — in a Vanity Fair piece last year she complained about the monotony of it.

“I think they have two versions of each sweater, but there’s the ‘favourite one’ I wore for, like, four episodes — I hated that sweater by the end!” she is quoted saying in the magazine.

But now, Enos says she loved it.

“Well, I mean actually if you’re going to spend all that time wearing the same clothes for 14 hours a day, jeans and a sweater is just about perfect,” she said.

The drab look helps cultivate the portrait of a sombre detective, with unhappiness clinging to her just as grey clings relentlessly to Seattle skies.

But Enos hints that perhaps there might be something redeeming in store for Linden as the show closes.

“I don’t want to give any spoilers but Veena Sud is ultimately a positive person and her hope has always been to get Sarah in a more positive place,” said Enos.