AMC’s “The Killing” Adds Variety to Crime Dramas


James Cullinane


AMC's "The Killing" Adds Variety to Police Dramas

Modern day television is flooded with cop dramas ranging from mainstays such as Dick Wolf’s “Law and Order”, to newly introduced series including “Southland” or “Detroit 1-8-7.”  These shows all follow the same blueprint for the most part; a dead body is found and 60 minutes later, the killer is behind bars.

In an effort to continue their recent television triumph, AMC (American Movie Channel)  took on the challenge of presenting one of the most unique crime dramas on air.  AMC’s newest television marvel, “The Killing”, differs from the proverbial pack by progressing slowly and devoting the entire first season to the pursuit of Rosie Larson’s murderer, with each episode accounting for one day of the investigation.  Despite this slow progression, the constant plot twists of “The Killing” leave viewers at the edge of their seat throughout every episode.

Sarah Linden, the lead detective in the Larson case, is portrayed by Mireille Enos (Big Love) , who captures the stoic nature of her character to perfection.  Linden, who is on the verge of moving to California with her adolescent son and fiance, seems to find herself delaying her move as she becomes enthralled in the Larson case.  The heir to Linden’s throne as lead detective in the Larson case is Stephen Holder, played by Joel Kinnaman.  A relatively unknown actor, Kinnaman delivers a mysterious performance, as Linden is unable to fully trust Holder due to his inexperience and overconfidence. Although Holder’s informal appearance and “tough-guy” aura initially provide an intimidation factor, these same elements swiftly become abrasive to viewers, leaving it difficult to take Kinnaman’s character seriously at times.

Another atypical element of “The Killing” is the deep characterization of the Larson family, whose mourning process has been spotlighted throughout its early goings.  With an emotional performance that has rivaled that of Enos, Michelle Forbes (True Blood) has been remarkable as Mitch Larson, the emotionally distraught mother of Rosie.  Brent Sexton shines in the role of Stan Larson, Rosie’s father who works endlessly to keep his other children protected from the media frenzy brought about after Rosie’s body is found in city politician Darren Richmond’s campaign car.  In the most emotionally gut wrenching scene in the young life of “The Killing”, Stan breaks down upon the discovery of Rosie’s body, while later overcoming these emotions to act as the glue that holds the Larson family together.

Because of the lack of solid leads being generated by detectives Linden and Holder, nobody can be ruled out as a suspect.  Everyone from high school students, to teachers, to members of the Richmond campaign are all considered persons of interest.  When everybody is thought to be a suspect, viewers are often left pointing the finger at a different suspicious character after every episode.  The unpredictable nature of “The Killing” keeps viewers tuned in every week.

Set in the American capital of melancholy, Seattle’s steady downpour only adds to the grim mood of “The Killing.”  Similarly, in one of the oldest cliches known to man, the rain often thickens as the action intensifies.  In fact, as the rain has come down, each episode thus far has been even more disturbing than its precursors as the details of Rosie’s death are unraveled.

For those who appreciate the deliberately slow pace of “The Killing”, AMC’s anomalous mystery is nothing short of a long awaited treat.  Conversely, viewers who have become willingly accustomed to the modern fast-paced cop drama may find “The Killing” to be uneventful.  However, fans and critics alike must commend AMC for taking a risk on such a unique series, especially after the over hyped train wreck that was “Rubicon.”

One thing that is certain is that “The Killing” will not suffer the same fate as “Rubicon”, as it has already gained rave reviews and a large following.  Whether or not “The Killing” will become a household commodity comparable to “Mad Men” remains to be seen, but AMC’s newest series undoubtedly possesses the characteristics to gain hit status.