Monday, April 4, 2011

Review - The Killing Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot / 2 The Cage

In an era where television murder has become so depersonalized (anyone who watches Criminal Minds and realizes the huge body count can attest to this), The Killing comes as a breath of fresh air. It takes a single murder--what should be a big detail in real life--and magnifies it for the television audience, making it not only personal for those in the show, but also those who watch as the events unfold.

There will be those who will find the show a tad slow for their liking, as was the case with Rubicon, which also took the slow approach to an otherwise exhilarating subject. But even if it doesn't move fast, there are tons of drama to be found within each character and segment of the show. As the first two episodes progress, little bits of information are sprinkled throughout the dialogue, keying viewers in to something important about the characters in relation to the murder which will be revealed later.

The main detective is Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) who is preparing to move away with her son, Jack, and fiance, whom Jack dislikes. What makes her such an interesting character is that she seems very normal. She's not super-beautiful or buxom, doesn't blow the case wide open with a brilliant observation, and her personality could even be classified as somewhat cold. But there is something lurking beneath her exterior, as we see some emotion peak out at times. Is she drawn to Rosie Larsen's murder for reasons other than the sheer brutality of the crime? Where is the man she fathered Jack with?

Her partner is Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) who looks and acts sketchy, traits from being on vice, and he proves to be knowledgeable in methods to get information, sharing weed with two high schoolers to get the location of "the cage," where the murder took place.

The heart of the anguish naturally are Rosie's parents, Mitch (Michelle Forbes) and Stanley (Brent Sexton). Both Forbes and Sexton handle their scenes perfectly and it's hard not to feel for them at the end of the episode. While most procedurals will show grieving family members once or twice at most, The Killing makes sure we see them go through the process of grieving, from the initial knowledge to wondering how it could have happened.

The last piece of the show is a bit curious. It revolves around Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), who is a councilman running for mayor, and his campaign workers Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman) and Jamie Dempsey (Eric Ladin). A couple inquisitive lines are dropped between Richmond and Gwen at the beginning of the episode, implying Richmond has something going on with a younger woman, but they don't discuss this later, even after Rosie is found in one of Richmond's campaign car.

So, who killed Rosie Larsen? It's impossible to fathom a guess right now, but it couldn't hurt to guess. The suspect pool isn't really that large, considering there are 13 episodes to find the murderer. Pretty much everyone other than the small children and Sarah are in the running, including Holder. My wild guess is Jamie, because... well, I don't have one.

Any series that begins with a murdered woman--or a man, for that matter--and takes its time to catch the culprit will inevitably drawn comparisons to Twin Peaks. There are similarities between the two, especially with regard to the Twin Peaks pilot which didn't dive into the supernatural stuff, and several homages to Twin Peaks--the wrapped body in the beginning and the iconic telephone scene--but the main difference is that The Killing is less about finding clues and the progression of the investigation than how people react to the clues. And then there is all the surrealism that David Lynch added as the series progressed, which is definitely not where The Killing is going.

Score: 9.3/10
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