The Killing Series Premiere Review: No Ordinary Crime Drama

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From the start of the pilot episode, we can see that The Killing is no ordinary crime drama.

Television is definitely saturated with numerous series that showcase the cops, lawyers, and forensic scientists that solve violent crimes all within an one-hour show.

The Killing stands out from the pack by offering a slower, more natural-paced investigation, which will take all season. With somber background music instead of an eerie or abrasive soundtrack, the show focuses on all of the victims of this terrible tragedy, especially the family.

The Killing Premiere Pic

Split into two hours (see recaps of parts one and two), the pilot took time to explore the scene, slowing down the images instead of quickly flashing through them.

Moreover, the show wasn't afraid to showcase long moments of silence while Detective Linden actually thinks about the investigation. Her progress feels more like the work of a genuine detective and less like the contrived "genius" moments of other TV dramas.

There's not a lot of new ground covered in the show, but the approach is refreshingly realistic and compelling, despite the long running-time of the first episode.

While other shows have used the strong female detective character to boost their sense of gender equality, this show's Detective Linden is less of a stereotype of the independent, scarily-intimidating woman and more like a real person. She spends a lot of screen time alone, despite having a fiance that she truly cares about. As she tells him that she will definitely be delayed, he doesn't make her choose between him and her career, which is a very refreshing change of pace. I feel like there will be more tension between them as time goes on and she still hasn't joined him in Sonoma, but for now, he understands her need to stay.

Linden is a single mom and her difficulties with her son are pretty normal for any parent with a pre-teen child. Especially because she plans on moving him away from all his cool friends. But, we can see signs that she may place her job above her obligations as a mother at times. Her son remains with a friend all day while she investigates, or sits in her office, eating junk food from the vending machines for dinner. Linden feels almost like a single father instead of a mother.

However, for all her faults, she has the quiet patience of a really good detective. She isn't in a rush like her would-be replacement because she's experienced enough to know that real investigations take time. But, she's astute enough to follow the clues in front of her like when she continued to search for the body despite being told the girl was supposedly at her boyfriend's house. Linden is an interesting character because she's not two-dimensional. The fact that she's a woman rarely comes into play in this series, and that's a great distinction for the show.

As a former narcotics detective, it seemed like her new replacement, Stephen Holder, had a lot to learn. Uncomfortably pressing people for information, even to creepy extremes, Holder seemed like an ineffective investigator to me. But what he lacks in tact, he more than makes up for in ingenuity. Although the scene was icky to watch, he ended up tricking two high school girls into giving him the location of the hidden Cage by smoking pot with them and asking them if they wanted to "party." Can you say statutory? He drops the ruse when he hears about the Cage, but it made me question his character a little bit. I think he'll be an interesting wild card in the investigation, but his inexperience might cause some issues.

The most heart-breaking part of the series is definitely watching the effect of Rosie's death on her family. From their initial confusion and trepidation when their daughter's missing, the family must endure a roller coaster of emotions before their hopes are crushed when Rosie's body is found in the trunk of that car. Her father's breakdown was reminiscent of Sean Penn's similar emotional collapse in Mystic River, but was, nonetheless, very moving. As her mother, Mitch, begins to wallow in guilt and grief, we can see that the family's journey isn't going to be easy to watch.

Councilman Richmond's campaign woes and the possible connection to the murder hasn't really grabbed my attention yet. Clearly, he has some secrets and a few hidden demons concerning his wife's death, but I'm not as interested in his plot line. Perhaps things will pick up, but for now , the whole subplot is kind of underwhelming.

This was a great, but long, start to the season. It's an intriguing premise to focus a crime series around a single crime and the effects of that crime and I think it will make for a very entertaining show.

What did you think of The Killing pilot? Discuss!

Pilot Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (58 Votes)
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The Killing Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

Linden: In situations like this, I like to ask myself: what would Jesus do?
Holder: Don't know. I'll ask him.

Hello, Facebook. Kid's don't write letters.

Jack Linden