Episode 2 of The Killing continues where we left off at the end of the first episode, which makes sense since this episode came right afterwards in the huge two hour premiere. We just segue into the continuation of the story and despite switching directors, the break is seamless. At the close of the first episode, Detective Sarah Linden had only just discovered the body of Rosie Larsen and left the parents: Stan and Mitch grieving. This episode as promised by the show’s creator, focuses on one set of characters per episode as the days of the investigation continue. Here the writers hone in on the parents going through the most tender time after losing their child.
The episode is almost about the horror of what an unwarranted and unexpected death can do to people. How people deal with grief but most importantly, of how to tell younger siblings that they aren’t going to see their big sister again. It is on one level, extraordinarily heartbreaking and the performances by Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes as Stan and Mitch Larsen are very accomplished. Part of their agreement is to stay tight lipped about their loss, even in front of work colleagues and friends. As they walk around trying to act normal, you can see it crippling them from the inside. It is remarkable.
However, deeper levels of corruption occur not just the political side of the story, this corruption is also founded in Sarah’s partner Stephen, an ex-narcotics officer, who in an effort to get information, lures two college girls with marijuana (or fake marijuana) which in turn does reveal where Rosie may have been brutally beaten. It is a moment which made me profoundly uneasy and although it was all done in the process of the job, it is still very suspect. It is a scene which in the end perfectly continues the overriding sombre, dark mood of the series. Which is moving closer and closer into increasingly bleak film noir territory.
However the suspects of the investigation begin to slowly creep in and are far more obvious. At the start of the episode we see the interrogation of the parents, where they are asked if their daughter was involved in politics, after all she was found in Councilman Richmond’s car. Could he be involved in some way? His snide, slimy ways seem to suggest so. Or could it be the ex-boyfriend Jasper, who seems to be all too confident with the opposite sex and has a prior criminal record. Not only has the show set a wondrous eerie tone but it now has suspense and intrigue in spades. This is a show that has been lovingly crafted and well conceived by a bunch of intelligent individuals.
I was surprised when watching these two episodes how popular it has been with the audience. In the UK, when the original Danish series played on BBC4, it debuted magnificently and the viewership grew through word of mouth. The figures on the channel were better than they were for Mad Men, and it has been the same with this on AMC. I am surprised considering how niche and brooding this is. The obsession with all things Scandinavian in the Western countries is probably the answer. In recent years Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and Wallander have become some of the major imports to TV before they got turned into their own English language versions. The Killing is a welcome addition to that Scandinavian tradition of bleak drama. AMC continues its reign over original television work as the very best out there right now. After two episodes, this is mightily gripping stuff. May the mystery continue.