bill bodkin debuts the Pop 5 column with a look at AMC’s original series The Killing …
Last night, AMC’s crime drama The Killing concluded and in true AMC fashion, we were left wanting so much more. Here are the top five reasons we loved this series and why you should be watching this series (whether on Netflix instant, DVD or re-run).
1. The Finale — When AMC announced they had renewed The Killing for a second season, I had this lingering feeling that we wouldn’t find out who actually killed Rosie Larsen. Would we be left with a cliffhanger? Or Would the murder be solved and Season 2 start with a new case?
At the onset of the episode, it looked liked we’d be given a clean, tied up in a ribbon ending. For 55 minutes, we were on that course — paced at the series’ most fast and certainly its most furious. The brilliant slow build of the series finally came to a head, perfectly showcased by the intense confrontation between Linden (Mirielle Enos) and Richmond (Billy Campbell) in his office. This was the series’ most fantastic scene as two of the most subdued and level-headed characters become completely irrational and unraveled. Also, the emotional reunion/break-up between Rosie’s parents was a long, slow emotional burn that finally came to a head. Brent Sexton has been a bit of subtle genius as Rosie’s father.
And the ending … betrayals on every level, a potential assassination, a political conspiracy and so many questions that remained unanswered. When The Killing first came out, AMC attached the tagline “You’ll be angry when every episode is over” and we definitely were after this one. It’s one of TV’s best cliffhangers and while we might “angry” we weren’t given a clean ending — we’ll back for more in Season 2.
2. Stephen Holder — Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman has been a revelation as Detective Steven Holder. His white boy street talk, his supposed vegetarianism and his non-stop sarcasm are a breath of fresh air; providing much needed comic relief. Without his sarcasm and sometimes bumbling bravado, The Killing would be so deadly serious that audiences probably would’ve disengaged after the first handful of episodes.
However, Holder isn’t just all haha. Throughout the series we’ve gone beyond his white boy jive talk to discover his past addiction problems which not only harmed himself but his family as well. And throughout the series we’ve seen him try to makes amends for it all while trying to impress his new partner/mentor Linden both professionally and personally. And with the events of the finale, it seems we’ll be delving into another new aspect of his character.
3. “The Missing” — This is the third to last episode of The Killing’s first season. We were hot on the trail of Rosie Larsen’s killer when we took a major detour in the story. Throughout the series Linden’s relationship with her son Jack has been strained by her involvement in the Rosie Larsen murder. Instead of leaving for California, they’ve had to remain in Seattle, homeless, while the case is investigated. So, being a rebellious teen, Jack takes off without letting his workaholic mom know. Throughout “The Missing” we following Linden and Holder as they search for Jack. We delve into their personalities, their character defects and their personal relationship. While this should’ve frustrated audiences, it actually was a brilliant move. The show had been so focused on clues and case file, it didn’t allow for much character exposition. With “The Missing” we got to know our main characters so much better and it helped us understand their motives, especially during the finale.
4. The Curveballs — How many times did you think you had everything figured out? Just when you thought you discovered who the murderer was, a curveball, a game changer, was thrown our way. So many suspects — the rich ex-boyfriend, the teacher Bennett Ahmed, the mysterious Mohammed, the shady co-worker Falco and countless others seemed to have fit the bill, but all were cleared. These curveballs have been tremendous, kept us involved in the series, they’ve had us blowing up Facebook statuses with theories — all the earmarks of great writing.
5. The Pacing — One of the biggest complaints about the series has been the pacing. And I’ll admit the first two episodes were a bit slow for me. But it was all a set-up for the unwinding of a convoluted case that has involved politics, race relations, prostitution, broken families, high school sexcapades and lots and lots of rain. This slow, unwinding, pace reminds me of a lot of well-written UK crime dramas. It takes its time, it makes you think and if you are patient with the series it will suck you in — just like all the great AMC shows. It’s emphasis on strong story and strong character has been the hallmark of AMC from Mad Men to Breaking Bad to The Walking Dead. All these shows are drastically different, but they all take their time in getting to the point. This slower pace allows for your mind, the cliffhangers leave you wanting more. And that’s why AMC has become so successful at original programming they leave audience wanting more and those hungry audiences will rewatch the reruns, they will take chances to watch new AMC programs based on previous experience and they’ll tell their friends to go out and find these shows on whatever platform they can to discover what they already love.