Who killed Rosie Larsen? It’s an intriguing question, perhaps not as intriguing as say, who killed Laura Palmer, but it’s intriguing enough to inspire a smartly written and stylishly composed adaptation of a Swedish television series. AMC’s The Killing premiered last year to excellent reviews and though quality dipped towards the end, the show still remains a powerful drama with a central mystery that keeps viewers coming back for more.
Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman take the lead roles here as Detectives Linden and Holder. Almost immediately we’re thrust into the investigation of the death of Rosie Larsen, a young girl who mysteriously disappeared and turned up dead. Throughout the course of the season, we follow three main storylines; the investigation itself, Rosie’s grieving family and how they deal with it and lastly, a political campaign that may have something to do with Rosie’s death.
The Killing balances murder mystery with character study quite well and it makes for some pretty compelling material. Initially, there are a lot of suspects but the show is in no rush. This is a series that wallows in the time it takes to reveal information. If you’re not patient, you’re not going to like this one. The Killing is more of a realistic murder mystery and it takes its time to show us how an investigation is put together and subsequently, how it progresses.
In terms of the three main story arcs, Kinnaman and Enos elevate their material above all else, turning in excellent performances that makes watching their investigation absolutely gripping. Not to be dismissed though is the subplot of Rosie’s family. Watching them deal with the death of the young girl is truly moving and often just as engaging as the main plot. Her parents, played by Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes, are especially good. The only weak area is the whole political campaign subplot. It’s a bit underdeveloped and feels a bit out of place.
Admittedly, there is a bit of fluff here and some of the material starts to feel like a chore to watch, especially after a few episodes in. But still, The Killing remains a mostly fascinating murder mystery where nothing is as it seems and everyone has something to hide. It’s smart, edgy and engrossing. Even despite the fact that it does the same song and dance multiple times, it’s still quite effective.
Is the show similar to Twin Peaks? Yes, but it’s obviously without all of Lynch’s weirdness. Due to that, and a couple other factors, the show feels much more grounded in reality which in a way, makes it more compelling than Lynch’s watercooler classic.
20th Century Fox has provided an excellent transfer for AMC’s The Killing. The image is constantly sharp and detailed, with the rainy Seattle backdrop captured wonderfully, looking as gloomy and uninviting as ever. Slightly desaturated colours also help add to the bleakness of it all. Darkness invites in a touch of crushing but never anything major and at times, there was a bit too much grain for my liking.
In terms of the audio, effective music adds to the atmosphere as it plays along perfectly with the clear dialogue. Great directional cues make for an effective sound field, with strong dynamics only adding to it. Throw in the occasional surrounds (rainstorms, sirens), and it all makes for some solid audio that heightens the tension.
For special features, unfortunately, we don’t get a whole lot. Check them out below.
- Orpheus Descending – Extended Season Finale:
- Commentary on The Killing (Pilot) with executive producer/writer Veena Sud
- Commentary on Orpheus Descending with actress Mireille Enos and writer Nicole Yorkin
- An Autopsy of the Killing
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes
They’re all pretty self explanatory except An Autopsy of the Killing. All this is though is a roughly 15 minute EPK featurette. It’s mostly fluff as we watch the cast and crew chime in to discuss the show. If you enjoyed the show I suppose you could give it a watch but it’s more or less useless.
Ultimately, The Killing presents a stirring and involving first season which is sure to have you absolutely hooked. Yes, it does have its low points as it presents a few too many red herrings, giving us the same old song and dance time after time, but it’s all backed by such excellent performances that even at the poorly written parts, it’s hard not to get into it.
The Killing won’t lose your interest, even when it slumps (which isn’t often) and though the series finale may upset many, you can still look on the bright side; season 2 premieres on April 1st, 2012.