Why It’s Time To Get Back Into The Killing

The Killing Numb Season 2 Episode 3

I love The Killing.

Since last season’s finale made the show persona non grata in the television fan community, I’ve kept that fact mostly to myself, only daring to discuss the show with a small circle of fellow devotees. It was easier than provoking former fans still smarting over the show’s last minute feint with my unwavering fangirl devotion.

Personally, I wasn’t bothered when the first season ended with the same lingering question mark it had been pursuing for thirteen episodes still firmly in place, but I watched the season over the course of three days, not thirteen weeks. I recognize that had I followed the show in real time my reaction might have been far more disgruntled, so while I may not have felt the disappointment myself, I do understand it. The Killing was a mess of dangling plot threads and red herrings in its first season, but I maintain it was at least a fascinating mess, and one anchored by two remarkable performances.

I suspect for many fans, The Killing‘s credibility has been damaged beyond repair, but if you still have a lingering curiosity about the identity of Rosie Larsen’s murderer or you just miss Joel Kinnaman’s swagger then there are plenty of reasons to give the series one more chance.

Joel Kinnaman And Mireille Enos Have Somehow Gotten Even Better
 

The Killing Ogi Jun Season 2 Episode 4 (2)

They were already delivering stunning work last season, but the tighter the storytelling becomes the more energy Kinnaman and Enos pour into their performances. Not only do we know Holder and Linden better this year, so do they, and it shows.

We’re no longer wondering where Holder’s loyalties lie and that has given Kinnaman the opportunity to delve into the character’s insecurities. Holder can’t escape his junkie past, and his need for relevancy and respect have come to define his arc this year. Kinnaman is at his best when he’s allowed to let loose. His best scenes this year have involved heightened emotions: the explosive rage he exhibited when facing his old dealer, his desperate attempt to make amends with Linden in the season premiere and his recent fearless, bravado-filled confrontation at the casino. Kinnaman’s performance is often searing, but he’s just as good at nailing Holder’s unwavering devotion to the people he cares about like Linden, Jack and his nephew Davie.

By contrast, Enos’s performance is all about restraint. Her calm and steady exterior has slowly been cracking this season as her family and job have been stripped away from her, leaving only her unrelenting need to solve the Larsen case behind. Linden’s dogged dedication combined with the slow burn of obsession that’s always simmering just below the surface has resulted in Enos’s best work to date. Watching her face off against a virtual firing squad with nothing but a handgun without so much as blinking was a highlight of the season. Enos has a gift for conveying Linden’s emotions without ever uttering a word.

When the two of them come together in a scene it becomes impossible for me to look away from the screen. They balance each other perfectly and their chemistry has created a partnership that is fascinating and infinitely watchable.

The Story Is Finally On Track
 

The Killing Numb Season 2 Episode 3 (2)

After the outrage over the lack of resolution to Rosie’s murder subsided, The Killing mostly disappeared from critical conversations and by extension popular culture. Unfortunately, the writers began to strike the right balance between mood and momentum the minute everyone looked away. It became comfortable with its role as a slow burn, deconstructed procedural, and stopped flinging plot twists around like errant Frisbees in an attempt to be as exciting as the case-a-week detective shows we’ve grown accustomed to. In short: The Killing is no longer a show brimming with potential, it’s a show that’s beginning to realize its potential.

It doesn’t need to introduce false leads for the sake of cliffhangers these days because it’s too busy solving the mysteries it has already set-up. The identity of the tattooed guy in the rearview mirror of Rosie’s bike? Solved. Richmond’s whereabouts the night of the murder? Known. Beau Soleil? Not really an issue anymore. By cleaning up the tangled web they created last season, they’ve finally freed themselves to revel in small moments, to sink their teeth into the grief of the Larsen family, to indulge in the noir spirit that runs throughout the show, to deliver real character moments between the broken partners at the center of the story without fear of losing focus.

The beauty of this season is the characters (minus Richmond, perhaps) are now strong enough to be interesting all on their own. The Killing is no longer relying on the case to carry the story which has in turn actually made the case more straightforward.

You Still Want To Know Who Killed Rosie…
 

the killing (amc)

And we’re about to find out. Although the truth is, the question has shifted. The who is not as important as the why. The identity of Rosie’s killer(s) seems obvious at this point, and all of the convoluted backstory that suggested Rosie had gotten herself into trouble has been sorted out. In actuality Rosie was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now the question has become, what did Rosie see?

Whether or not the mystery will reach a satisfying conclusion remains to be seen, but we are going to reach a conclusion, so feel free to let your curiosity lead you back.

 

The Killing hasn’t magically turned into a flawless show. It is still essentially the same, only now it’s sharper and more focused. If you’re planning on returning to the show, or maybe even watching it for the first time I recommend marathoning it. The story plays better in one long gulp than it does portioned out over several weeks. Set aside a couple of weekends to give yourself over to the dreary Seattle skylines, the shadowy noir-tinged murder mystery and the crackling chemistry between Enos and Kinnamen–it might just surprise you.

I’m going to turn it over to you guys now: how do you feel about The Killing, and if you jumped ship after the finale what would it take for the show to get you back? I’m also curious to know if you’ve ever loved a show that was generally derided by critics/fans? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comment section below.

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