Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.
We’ve all seen commercials for TV shows that claim they are “Gripping,” or that you will be “On the edge of your seat.” Most of the time these descriptions are simply studio hype, but this is not the case with the AMC police drama The Killing. Based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen, the American version is a truly spellbinding affair that is often overlooked when those in the know are discussing the list of TV’s best. In an era when we have so many entertainment choices, some unfortunately get lost in the din — especially another police procedural. However, The Killing is clearly ahead of the pack, and will have you chain smoking one episode after another until the very surprising season finale.
One year after solving the murder of young Rosie Larson, Sara Linden (Mireille Enos, World War Z) is no longer working for the Seattle police department. Her former partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman, Robocop) has gotten his act together with a new partner, new girlfriend, and his sights set on becoming a sergeant. But these former colleagues are brought together once again, when Holder is handed a case that may be connected to a previous murder investigation by Linden. Just when she thought she was done with police work, Linden is pulled back in again when the man she helped put away for that murder looks as if he might be innocent.
Thank goodness Netflix picked up The Killing for its fourth and final season, after it was unceremoniously cancelled — a second time — by AMC. As was the case with the first two, where the story of the murder of young Rosie Larson was a two season arc, it seems as if season 3 and 4 will continue that trend. I LOVE this show, and was hooked from the very first frame of the very first season, and am glad to report that the excellence has continued in what was almost a season that never was.
The Killing: The Complete Third Season is a three-disc, twelve-episode collection that drops us in on the lives of Detectives Linden and Holder about one year after they solved the murder of Rosie Larson. Linden is no longer with Seattle PD, and Holder is tolerating a new and obnoxious partner intent on coasting until he retires. If you missed the first two series, let not your heart be troubled, you can jump into this third installment without ever seeing the other seasons — but I highly recommend that you do.
The relationship between Holder and Linden in the first two years was adversarial — at least from Linden’s end. She was the teacher of sorts to a Holder who was sloppy, careless, and had a penchant for cutting corners. He learned from Linden in spite of her; she had no desire to be his mentor but she had a work ethic that rubbed off on Holder, making him a better detective. They developed a grudging respect for one another — a friendship even — realizing they could count on each other when the chips were down.
The tables are turned in Season Three, as Holder, clean and sober, is on a more equal footing with Linden. Her life is in flux after her son moves across the country to live with his father, and she settles into a dead end job in order to escape her previous life. Enos plays Linden as a woman with steely determination, but a guarded personality that stems from a childhood shuttled from one foster home to another. She learned to build a protective wall around herself, and finds it near impossible to let anyone in. But my man Holder is able to tear it down, a little at a time, as the one person who genuinely likes Linden, and wants nothing in return. Joel Kinnaman’s alter ego Stephen Holder is by far my favorite character in the series. He is a man with just enough bravado to make him a very good cop, rarely crossing the line into a-hole territory. He has a swagger that is confident, but not arrogant, and he can converse using Urban Slanguage in a way that fits who the character is, without it seeming forced or out of place. Together they have the most odd-ball partnership, but it works beautifully.
The Killing is blessed with a supporting cast that is as talented as I’ve ever seen. The standout performance without a doubt goes to Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead) who plays to perfection convicted killer Ray Seward — a condemned man that Linden now believes is innocent. Christopher Meloni look-a-like, Elias Koteas (Shutter Island) is fabulous as Linden’s former partner James Skinner, he helped Linden send Seward to death row three years earlier. Rounding out this cast, are a group of young teenagers who are more than capable of holding their own alongside the much more seasoned adults.
The 1.78:1 widescreen presentation is sharp and clear, even though an abundance of the scenes take place at night. The 5.1 Dolby audio is good, but some of the characters have a case of the mumblies that make the dialogue in parts hard to decipher. Nonetheless, that in no way spoils this top notch television show for me — and it shouldn’t for you either. You talk about a bare bones release, this FOX DVD doesn’t even have subtitles, let alone any extras. But with a show this good, you don’t really need much more.
The Killing is a top tier program, right alongside shows like the critically acclaimed True Detective. With multi-dimensional characters and excellent writing and acting, this is what other police procedurals hope to grow up and be. If you have never seen this show — shame on you! But I’ll forgive you, if you get the DVD as soon as you’ve finished reading my review.
They Killed it! Not guilty.