I recently watched The Killing on Netflix. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, the first season aired on AMC in 2011. I remember seeing some buzz about it, but didn’t feel like getting into it at the time. Now, I’ve got some time on my hands and thought I’d give it a shot.
Based on a Danish television show called Forbrydelsen (The Crime), the show follows along with Seattle Detective Sarah Linden and her partner, Stephen Holder, as they try to solve the murder of Rosie Larsen, a teenage girl discovered in the trunk of a car belonging to the Richmond mayoral campaign. We also see the effect Rosie’s death has on her mother, father, brothers and aunt, and glimpses into the Richmond campaign.
Really, though, it’s Linden who drives the story forward. In a cliched trope of Hollywood, Linden is on her last day as a Seattle homicide detective when the series begins. She plans to move to California with her son, and get married to Rick Felder (Callum Keith Rennie aka the Cylon Leoben Conoy – yeah! The guy obsessed with Starbuck!). But the murder of Rosie Larsen draws her in and gets under her skin. She can’t let it go. This causes her a lot of trouble with her kid and fiance, both of whom grow more and more frustrated with her as she keeps missing flights, sticking around, obsessing over every detail, determined to solve this murder. It also causes her trouble with Holder, who thought he was replacing her, not partnering with her, when he transferred from vice and narcotics.
Each episode of the season (13 total) is roughly 24 hours in the overall timeline. The detectives are on the hunt for Rosie’s killer, but stuff keeps happening, clues lead them in one direction only to have them realize after a huge expenditure of time and energy, that they’re barking up the wrong tree. This happens a lot over the course of the season.
Stylistically, the show is dark, gritty and, as you’d expect from a show set in Seattle, wet. It is almost constantly raining. I also felt like it was calmer than it should be. Linden is very calm, the family is calm. Maybe this is to draw emphasis to the few moments, scattered throughout the season, when a character loses it. Linden breaks down at one point, Rosie’s father seriously loses his temper but even that is handled almost like a calm release of rage. I don’t know. Sprinkled through a 13-episode arc, the tension builds and builds…and builds.
But where’s the payoff?
One of the hardest things for a series to do, is carry a premise well over a season arc, or, worse, multiple seasons. A murder to be solved is one of them. (Twin Peaks & Veronica Mars comes to mind) For the most part, The Killing does this well enough in season 1, but having watched it, gotten into it, got excited about it, I was disappointed in the lack of resolution in the end.
Yes, I’m intentionally being vague here. (no spoilers)
I wanted more payoff for my viewing time than I got with The Killing’s first season finale.
I think, knowing what I know now, I would have waited for a couple of seasons to be available before starting this series. Which is a bummer. Season 2 is airing on AMC right now (I think), and I’ve already missed some episodes, so I guess I’ll have to wait for them to hit Netflix to get caught up yet again.
Maybe season 2 will give me the resolution I was looking for in season 1?