Last year, AMC premiered their mystery series, The Killing, to good ratings and the type of hype that helps a small cable show grow from cult status to award winning drama. Most critics, this one included, hailed he show as one of the year’s best based on the pilot episode alone. Unfortunately for casual viewers, the central mystery to the series, “Who killed Rosie Larson?” was dragged out from episode to episode as more red herrings were tossed into the mix. For those of us who stuck with the show over it’s thirteen weeks, the fact that that mystery wasn’t solved by the end of the season was quite frustrating. Despite this, The Killing was still one of the better written shows on TV, and contained some of the best acting all of last year. Each of the lead actors was compelling in their own way, making for some riveting hours of TV.
Now out on home video, The Killing is one of those shows that benefits from the Blu-ray treatment. With all thirteen hours at the ready, the week-long wait between each episode seems to dull some of the disappointment that the mystery isn’t solved. Moreover, as each episode represents a day in this tragic homicide case, the fact that the characters do not change all that much throughout the season makes more sense. This is no more true than in Michelle Forbes heart wrenching portrayal as Rosie’s mom. The poor woman spirals through the many phases of grief and I don’t think there is an hour when she’s not staring out her window at the rain, crying and trying to keep herself together. Likewise, Mireille Enos as the lead detective, Linden, doesn’t change all that much in her stoic, determined procedural work. Over thirteen weeks, it started to wear thin, but over just thirteen hours, it all makes sense. For this reason, a second look at The Killing made me realize how risky of a show it turned out to be. When your characters must wear the same grieved expression every episode in order to maintain verisimilitude, it’s going to be tough to keep the casual viewers from sticking around. Other standouts in the cast include Brent Sexton, as Rosie’s dad, Stan, and Billy Campbell as Darren Richmond, a politician running for mayor of Seattle. Campbell give a very nuanced performance, as he uses his empathetic good looks to lure us in, making the secrets he hides all that more surprising.
The Killing is all about secrets and how they can ruin our lives. Not one character makes it through the season without something dark from their past coming back to haunt them. The most interesting episode of the first season remains the eleventh, entitled “Missing.” In it, Linden and her partner, Holder (the excellent Joel Kinnaman), spend the entire episode waiting for a warrant and searching the streets for Larsen’s missing son. It’s probably the only episode in the first season that really sheds some light on the two characters, and for the first time you saw these two bond. It was a cheer worthy moment, which made events in the season finale that much more of a shock.
This Sunday, AMC premieres the second season of The Killing. I hear that Rosie’s murder will not be solved until the end of the new season. All of this stalling is starting to remind me of Twin Peaks, that other Pacific Northwest mystery series that started with a bang and ended with a fizzle. For those of you who missed season one and are curious about what you missed, there is time to get caught up. As I said, The Killing benefits from the home video treatment. You can definitely get through these thirteen episodes in a few days and be prepared for season 2 come this weekend.