bill bodkin is killin’ in the name of …
The Break Down: We’re back in Seattle, the city where it’s always raining and there’s always some sort of grisly murder involving a young girl. In this case many girls. Detective Steven Holder (Joel Kinnaman) is now a suit and tie-wearing Seattle detective trying to figure out who’s killing underage prostitutes in his city. Meanwhile, Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is no longer a cop (well for the first two episodes) due to the mental strains the Rosie Larsen case took on her. However, after a brief encounter with Holder, who’s asking about the connection between his case and one of Linden’s most famous cases (hinted at during Seasons 1 & 2), she gets sucked back in. Meanwhile, Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard), is awaiting his execution. Who’s Ray Seward … only the man who was convicted in Linden’s most famous case. A case she doesn’t think was solved correctly.
1. Pete Sarsgaard: Let’s forget he was ever in The Green Lantern and let’s remember Sarsgaard is one hell of an actor. In The Killing, Sarsgaard playing a man who literally has nothing left to live for. He’s been sentenced to death for the gruesome murder of his wife … but he may not be guilty of the crime. However, he’s convinced himself that he has done it, even admitting it to Linden when she visits him. Why? Who knows, but damn it, Sarsgaard makes us want to find out. Just from his eyes alone we see him drowning in a sea of hate, sorrow, anger, depression, despair. And that’s just in his peepers people. His mild-mannered tone is the perfect set-up for his outbursts of violence towards the staff of the prison (he messes up the prison chaplain pretty fiercely). He’s such an engaging character from the moment we first lay eyes on him and that is exactly the kind of dynamic presence The Killing needs. After being cancelled last year the show needs a a game changing actor, someone so dynamic that they can carry the show on their back and hide any weaknesses audiences may perceive. If you’re going to tune into this show for one reason — Peter Sarsgaard is it.
2. Joel Kinnaman: Even though he’s got a suit and tie on doesn’t mean the jive talking, street wise, Vegan Detective Stephen Holder has disappeared. No, underneath the threads is that same charismatic and cool character which was the shining star of the series first two seasons. The character of Stephen Holder is probably one my personal favorite characters on television right now. He’s funny, he’s tough, he’s ballsy, he’s complex, he’s emotional and most importantly — he has this sense of reality to him, as if you know the guy.
If Sarsgaard is the home run hitter that’ll attract new fans or reinvigorate disenchanted ones then Kinnaman is the familiar homegrown talent that longtime fans of the series need to help get them back into the groove of the show; to remind them that their favorite program hasn’t changed. Holder’s character, personality-wise, hasn’t changed much and frankly it shouldn’t, it’s been only a year (even in the world of the show) since we last saw him. The fact he’s still cracking jokes and cracking heads is a welcome sign.
And, the show has done the right thing by making Holder the main focus of the cop side of things so far this season. We need to ease Sarah Linden back into the show and into our consciousness — she’s a tough and complicated character and we don’t need to be slammed over the head with her neurosis just yet (but we kinda are).
3. The Twists Keep on Coming: The Killing has always been known for its fantastic plot twists and from the looks of the trailers for the rest of Season 3 there’s going to be plenty. It’s refreshing to see they producers and writers of the show aren’t abandoning their formula just because they got cancelled last year.
4. Elias Koteas: Yup, Casey Jones himself is in this season. Koteas is one of the most criminally underrated character actors out there. Don’t believe me? Watch The Haunting in Connecticut and watch him singlehandedly carry a movie from being a complete piece of crap to somewhat enjoyable. It’s not an easy task, especially when you’re not one of the film’s primary stars. Here, he’s Linden’s former partner and lover who’s heading up this new serial killer investigation. Having him on board, to keep with the sports analogy, is like bringing in a savvy veteran to keep the team afloat in its darkest and weakest of times. His presence alone adds a sense of gravity and drama that was lacking from last year’s supporting cast.
What Doesn’t Work:
1. The Young Talent: One subsection of this season’s plot is the runaway/homeless youth of Seattle. It’s a harrowing and hard life and the young actors portraying these unfortunate youths look the part for sure. But man, they are not the best actors. Maybe they’re green around the gills or maybe they just haven’t found their stride yet, but these young actors really detract from the show. It’s classic over and under acting at it’s finest. Luckily, they aren’t too involved with the plot and could easily work their way into better performances.
2. The Time Slot in Two Weeks: Well, this is an odd “what doesn’t work” but once Mad Men signs off for the season will people be watching The Killing? First run episodes air before Mad Men at 9pm (reruns air right after Mad Men)and with Game of Thrones done for the year, there, in theory, should be some unoccupied eyes that can head over to the show. However, once MM is done, will people want to stay on AMC every Sunday? Breaking Bad better return quickly. I only say this because I’d like to see the show have more of a run and not always be threatened to be on the endangered species list.
3. Linden’s Neurotic Behavior: She’s been the woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown for quite some time. Hell, she’s even had the breakdown. And we’re back to the crazy Sarah Linden show again. She’s already loosing her cool and becoming obsessed. This was very apparent in the first two episodes, luckily in episode three this has been dialed back a bit. I really hope her craziness is more of a slow burn this season. If not, then The Killing is going to suffer.
Is It Worth It?: Absolutely. I’ve been rolling deep with The Killing since Season 1 and I’ll continue to watch this show as long it lasts (well unless the show gets lousy, but isn’t that a given?). The Holder/Linden partnership has always been one of TV’s best cop one-two punches for two years and the writing is top notch. Throw in two terrific supporting actors in Sarsgaard and Koteas plus an emphasis on Joel Kinnaman and you’ve got the makings of a breakout season for the AMC crime drama.