3
Apr
2011
The Killing: Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2
Pilot/The Cage
Sam
In the two-episode premiere of AMC's newest show, The Killing, we got a taste of something we've all eaten many times. Sure, the show seems a lot like David Lynch's Twin Peaks (the promo add asks "Who killed Rosie Larsen?") but the tone feels much different. It lacks that dreamlike state Lynch had his characters hazily float around. This show feels bleaker, colder and more like a novel.

The show revolves around detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) who, in case you missed it the 500 times they mention it, is on her way out of Seattle to California with her fiancé and son. We'll get back to her character beyond her role as detective in a moment but let's cut to the nitty gritty.

Like any decent pilot, especially one that sets up a whodunit such as this one, we meet all our suspects one of which is presumably the killer. Since we can't have it revealed who the killer is, they're all acting like they didn't just kill a teenage girl, fair enough. It was an interesting choice, however, to have everyone introduced before we find a body. In a way the pilot worked like a complex cold open to an episode of Law & Order. We know there's a body, it's just a matter of finding it. When Rosie Larsen goes missing for a few days we at home are just waiting for someone to find it.

Besides Sarah and her family, we meet her new partner, Stephen Holder, who likes to play by his own rules. In fact he is probably the creepiest character introduced on the show. Having him as a suspect could play great dividends as he's trying to hunt down the killer while covering his own tracks. We also start to follow the mayoral campaign of Councilman Richmond who may or may not play the murder for political game (do I smell MOTIVE? Probably not.)

The next obvious suspects we're introduced to are Rosie's loving parents who totally would never kill her. Next we head to the deceased's school where we learn about an ex-boyfriend and her best friend who may not be such a big fan of hers after all. Also we meet her teacher who seems like a really nice guy who would never kill one of his students. OK, now that I think about it this reeks of Twin Peaks but it lacks some of its fun.

The pilot reaches a climax with the discovery of the body in the trunk of a car that's been sunk to the bottom of a lake. The chase is on. My first reactions of the show hadn't changed much between episodes. The writers seem comfortable meddling in classic television mystery tropes (anyone in town could have done it!) which is fine because the show has a strong sense of style"”something that's become somewhat of a hallmark of AMC's programs.

Because this is a typical mystery, it comes as no surprise that the show is not at it's most exciting right out of the gate. In order for this to pay off there needs to be plenty of backstory.

Episode two points out my early worry with our protagonist, Sarah. I love that she's smart and already one of the guys at the department, but her personal life is painfully uninteresting. We keep hearing about the plane she needs to catch but there is no question that she' going to stick around"”she's the star of The Killing so she can't leave. This makes all of her personal problems entirely inconsequential. Enos plays the character as appropriately laid back but still very much in charge. My concern is that the will just remain a great detective and not a great character. One of the main things that distinguish these mystery shows are the dynamics between the characters and how they stand on their own. As of now, Linden is not very interesting, and neither his her whiny son. Don't worry kid, you'll get to stay in you precious Seattle.

The second episode got the ball moving by giving us the necessary dirt to think that any character could be the killer. The parents are of course in mourning (the killer would TOTALLY fake cry) the ex-boyfriend is a total jerk (like how KILLERS are jerks) and the Councilman is freaking out because the body was found in one of his campaign cars (OK, that looks pretty bad).

Through some absolutely creepy detective work, Holder is able to find the place the kids all go to hook up. All he had to do was give some high school girls some weed and the idea that they could have sex with him. The room is called The Cage, because who doesn't want to screw in a cage under your high school? It's also where we discover the first signs of struggle as the mattress is covered with what is presumably Rosie's blood.

The second episode provided just the little bit of a tease that will likely bring back the audience that bought into the episode. Fans of Twin Peaks may complain about the similarity but the shows are actually quite different. What they share is in the DNA of the whodunit and it makes for fun television. Hopefully I'll want to spend more time around these characters. But for now, the early clues or non-clues will bring me back for more.

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Tags: The Killing
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