On paper, The Killing is a bleak no-holds-barred police procedural based very closely upon the Danish television series Forbrydelsen. For those who have already seen the Danish original, the similarities – especially during the first season – may be so jarring they quickly become irritating (or ‘imitating’ because the US version often feels like a direct shot-for-shot copy of its European counterpart. In fact, the first season of The Killing sometimes feels as if it was made solely for people who do not like reading subtitles).
Stick with it, though. A few episodes in and you will be so engrossed in the story that nothing else will matter.
So what is the story? The Killing’s main character is Seattle detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos), whose last day at work is slammed into reverse when a teenage girl goes missing, eventually to be found dead in the back of an up-and-coming politician’s car.
Suddenly, Linden’s plans for a new life in California are put on hold as she and detective Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), the renegade bad-boy cop who was brought in as her replacement, try to unravel the truth behind ‘Who Killed Rosie Larsen?’ There are, not surprisingly, a lot of possibilities.
Season Two continues the Larsen investigation and uncovers even more dirt along the way, including some revelations that quickly spin out some of the details we thought we knew from the previous season (this isn’t cheating though, it is extremely good screenwriting). Season Three is a completely new story, when Linden discovers that a series of murders is linked to one of her previous investigations, a case she long thought buried. Season Four involves the brutal murder of a family and the only survivor of the massacre may be the chief suspect. It doesn’t help that the boy attends a military academy. Meanwhile, Linden is still weathering the storm whipped up by the season three finale, and her already tenuous relationship with Holder is becoming even more strained.
The Killing is a wonderful series, although probably the most unsexy thriller ever committed to film. It is also constantly cold, grey and wet so viewers with really serious cases of seasonal affective disorder should probably watch this while sitting very close to a ridiculously big heat lamp. But, unlike many similar TV shows, The Killing rewards careful viewing and always keeps the audience guessing. The performances are solid as well; Mireille Enos gives an acting masterclass as Linden, especially during Seasons Three and Four.
As for this Blu-ray and DVD release, it looks and sounds great. A few more special features would have been nice, but the quality of The Killing itself more than makes up for the lack of extras.
THE KILLING – THE COMPLETE SERIES / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ED BIANCHI, NICOLE KASSELL, PHIL ABRAHAM / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: MIREILEE ENOS, JOEL KINNAMAN, BILLY CAMPBELL, MICHELLE FORBES, BRENT SAXTON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW