The Killing: Pilot and The Cage

The Killing, the latest dramatic offering from AMC, is apparently based on a hit Danish series. Since I don’t check out Danish TV … ever … I come into this with completely fresh eyes! The Killing was advertised as a season long story about the murder of a young girl in Seattle. I was a very big fan of Murder One back in the day – which doesn’t get enough credit for being a trail blazer in serialized network television. That series told the story of one murder trial, which unfolded throughout the season, but it was essentially a legal drama. It was all told from the point of view of the defense attorneys. The Killing is a much more emotional, human tale, following not only the detectives who are investigating the case, but also the family of the murdered girl and a local councilman whose campaign is somehow connected to the crime.

The compelling two hour premiere opened with parallel images of two women running through the forest – one intensely focused on her morning jog, the other running for her life in the dead of night.
The jogging woman is detective Sarah Linden who is heading into the office for her last day on the job. She’s leaving the fog and rain of Seattle for the sunshine of California and an impending marriage. But her day becomes more eventful then she planned when a bloody sweater belonging to 18-year-old Rosie Larsen is discovered in a park.

The first hour of the premiere was a tortuous slow burn. The pace was almost sluggish as Sarah and transfer cop Stephen Holder drifted around the city piecing clues together. The Larsen family quietly and unsettlingly became unhinged as they realized their daughter was missing and desperately tried to hold it together by grasping at less unthinkable explanations. But Rosie didn’t spend the weekend with her best friend Sterling. And she didn’t sneak off for an illicit rendezvous with ex-boyfriend Jasper. Nobody had seen or heard from her since the school dance nearly three days ago.

It was incredibly tense and unnerving to watch. I was biting my nails and waiting for the awful explosion I knew was imminent. And when everything finally fell apart – when a water-soaked car was pulled from the lake and revealed Rosie Larsen’s body in the trunk – it was heart wrenching. Rosie’s father Stan collapsed on the road-side at the site of the discovery. Her mother Mitch broke down and wailed while on the phone with him. And I was a sorry blubbering mess. It’s not exactly difficult to get me to cry. I’ve been known to sniffle at long distance commercials. But this was like a punch to the gut; watching a family’s worst nightmare play out in horrible detail. Awful … but powerful television!

I loved how slowly the show revealed information about the characters lives, giving every detail from the mundane to the complex the same treatment as the murder clues. I’m already as invested in learning about people as I am in the crime.

Lead actress Mireille Enos has a very Anna Torv-esque vibe. Sarah Linden is a woman of few words and Enos is stoic and contained; something darker bubbling beneath the surface of her intense gaze. But she came across a little cold and I can’t quite decide how I feel about her yet. Admittedly, it took me awhile to warm up to Torv as well.

There’s some impressive pedigree in the cast: Michelle Forbes (Admiral Caine from Battlestar) and Brent Sexton (who I loved as Charlie Crews’ former partner on Life) as the Larsens, and Billy Campbell (The 4400, and Once and Again! I confess to getting a little giddy when he said his late wife’s name was Lily) as Councilman Richmond.

The only character who rubbed me the wrong way was Stephen, who consistently acted like a douchebag for no apparent reason. He was antagonistic, unnecessarily vulgar and really scuzzy looking. Although he did reveal himself to be a little smarter than he first appeared by tricking two teenage girls into telling him about a secret ‘cage’ in the school basement where kids go to party.

Details so Far:

-Rosie Larsen was last seen at the school dance, where she was dressed as a witch and wearing a pink wig.
-At some point during the evening she ended up in the basement of the school, where cops found a bloody mattress and her discarded wig.
-We don’t know how she ended up running through the forest in the park, but we do know that her bloody sweater was found there.
-In a nearby lake her body was discovered in the trunk of a car belonging to the Richmond campaign (the car was reported stolen).
-She was alive when the car was submerged in water and she drowned as she ripped off her own fingernails trying to claw her way out.


The All too obvious:
-Councilman Richmond, whose campaign car was used in the murder and whose wife died under tragic circumstances several years earlier.
– Ex-boyfriend and snotty rich prick Jasper, who was supposedly snorting coke and banging a hot cougar on the night of the murder.

The Not Obvious Enough (yet):
-Rosie’s teacher Bennett Ahmed, who made several appearances in the premiere. He was suspiciously helpful and he must have a larger role to play.
-Jamie Wright, Councilman Richmond’s overly zealous immoral campaign lackie.
-Even though he only had a few scenes, I don’t trust Sarah’s boyfriend. He’s played by Callum Keith Rennie, who was featured heavily in Battlestar Galactica, Californication and Harper’s Island. They wouldn’t use him if there wasn’t more meat to the role and he does creepy way too well

But I know how murder mysteries work. Anyone with lines is fair game 😉

Random Observations:

I am terrible at describing music, so I won’t even attempt it, but I loved the hypnotic soundtrack. It added a really cool vibe to the show.

Overall, I was intrigued, emotionally moved and I can’t wait to see what happens next. A TV slam-dunk!

Photo Courtesy of AMC

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