‘Game of Thrones’ Slays ‘The Killing': A Tale of Two Finales

Both series aired their season finales Sunday, but only one got it right

(This article contains spoliers about "Game of Thrones" and "The Killing." Do not read this if you don't want to know what happened in the season one finales that aired Sunday.)

HBO's "Game of Thrones" and AMC's "The Killing," both wrapped up their first seasons Sunday night — but only one did so with anything remotely resembling competency.

That would be "Game of Thrones," which finished Season 1 with an episode that, if not as shocking as the penultimate one that saw Ned Stark (Sean Bean) lose his head, rewarded its millions of ardent fans by tidily wrapping things up and clearly defining what's at stake going into Season 2.

Also read: 'Game of Thrones' Shocker Separates Readers from Viewers

Here's a brief recap of where "Game of Thrones" stands going into its second season:

  • Sansa Stark is in a hell of her own creation: still betrothed to a now-abusive Joffrey, even after witnessing her father's beheading
  • Arya Stark has been smuggled out of King's Landing and is marching back toward Winterfell — with, among others, the Christian Bale lookalike who is also the deceased King Robert's bastard son
  • Tyrion Lannister is heading to King's Landing to keep bratty "king" Joffrey in check
  • Robb Stark is fully endorsed as "King of the North" by the secession-minded houses that followed him into battle against the Lannister horde
  • Jon Snow and his oath brothers are heading north to investigate the many strange phenomena beyond the Wall
  • Daenerys Targaryen is totally a dragon lady

Impressively, the addictive appeal of the entire first season of "Game of Thrones" can be summed up with one titillating and 100-percent true statement: It ended with well-wrought CGI dragon babies crawling across the torso of a beautiful, naked woman.

"F— yeah, dragons," wrote one fan on Twitter, speaking for thousands of his social-media peers.

Also read: 'Game of Thrones' Takes Over Twitter

By contrast, "The Killing" left many viewers livid and screaming for virtual beheadings.

The online reaction to Sunday's season finale of "The Killing" has been so vitriolic, you'd assume that show-runner Veena Sud had gotten into a van, driven around the country and kidnapped thousands of people's pets.

"[Veena Sud] needs to be fired," wrote one particularly perturbed Hitfix commenter, just 12 minutes after the conclusion of the episode. And that was one of the nicest things anyone said about the finale.

Also read: 'The Killing' Finale: Has the NYT Reviewer Been Paying Attention?

Critics have spent much of Monday savaging it liberally on blogs, in newspapers and on Twitter; the three most entertaining screeds so far are by Maureen Ryan of AOL TV, Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix and Bill Simmons of Grantland.

The collective main beefs, which I wholeheartedly share:

  • The finale created more questions than it answered
  • The season involved ten too many red herrings and as a result, it was impossible to care about the outcome
  • The main characters used questionable logic — repeatedly and head-slappingly so
  • Breakout character Holder is now a dirty cop — wuzzat?
  • Man, that Seattle police force is absolutely incompetent
  • Who killed Rosie Larsen? Who the f— knows?!
  • Sud is arrogant and willfully hates her audience

Which side do you fall on? Did you love "Game of Thrones" and hate "The Killing" like everybody else seemed to? Or are you a contrarian?