The Killing Series 3: Sarah Lund returns to solve one last murder in the final series of the hit Danish drama

by Matt D

In early 2011 when BBC4 aired an obscure Danish programme Forbrydelsen, giving it the English translation of The Killing, people were bemused at first but it quickly became a word-of-mouth smash. After the channel aired the second series late last year they followed it up with fellow Scandinavian imports Borgen and The Bridge with both programmes also receiving critical acclaim. However it is now time to get out those hankies as it’s time to wave goodbye to Sarah Lund in the third and final series of The Killing which sees her butt heads with big business and the government.

It appears as if Lund is a lot more mellow than we’ve ever seen her as she has got her job back under the command of the brilliantly stoic Lennart Brix and is currently trying to arrange a transfer to the much less stressful OPA department.

Lund is now living alone in a small house, where she spends her day furiously gardening and attempting to cook ambitious meals, however we see her attempt to reconnect with her son Mark who unsurprisingly doesn’t want anything to do with his once unstable mother. While being advised to butter up the commissioner at a party to celebrate her 25 years on the force, Sarah is also tasked with showing the baby-faced new recruit Asbjorn Juncker around the station as well as accompanying him to a crime scene. Arriving on the scene instantly catapults Lund into the centre of the action as she becomes part of the team investigating a dead body that has been picked up by a crane operating on the docks.

We actually witness this man’s murder in the opening scene of the episode, as his is the titular Killing this time around, an incredibly spooky scene set on a ship that has already had its other two crew members bumped off. It does take a while though for the police to discover that this man was from the Medea ship initially believing him to be a homeless man however as the ship is owned by the influential Zeeland group it has wide-reaching implications for those in charge. The Zeeland Group actually figures quite heavily in this episode after it is announced that they will be moving to Asia which will impact on the Danish economy, something the Prime Minister doesn’t want to happen but at the same time he does admit to the press that not all of his decisions are revolved around Zeeland.

As is always the way with The Killing .politicians do feature quite heavily and this time we’re right at the top as we follow the aforementioned Prime Minister on the campaign trail as his visit to the homeless is cut short by Sarah Lund’s investigative nature. It seems that Prime Minister Kristian Kamper has other things on his mind as he is having his wicked way with the lovely Rosa Lebech the only problem is that she is the head of the notorious Central Party and if their affair became public it could be seen as a conflict of interests.

Back to Lund now as we see her ditch the jumper in favour of full uniform as she waits to be congratulated for her 25 years on the force, however before she can accept her diploma she is pulled to one side by Mathias Borch an old police academy acquaintance who is now working for Special Branch. Borch obviously trusts Lund’s judgment so takes her back out to the docks where Juncker is still collecting evidence, however after a quick sweep of the scene Lund still believes there is nothing to see so Borch is able to give the go-ahead for the Prime Minister to visit the area.

Lund’s detective instinct fully kicks in later when she views the tattoos of the deceased man and discovers that he must have served on the Madea ship so tells Borch that she must be taken out there. In possibly the best scene in this first episode Lund explores the Madea coming across the dead body of the other two shipmen before discovering photos of the Prime Minister alongside the head of the Zeeland corporation Robert Zeuthen and his young daughter Emilie. Zeuthen is the other main character in the series as we see him attempt to look after his children, while at the same time act as the head of Danish’s biggest employer. In this episode we see Zeuthen argue with his ex-wife over the children’s welfare, after Emilie gets an allergic reaction to a cat that he does’t remember her playing with, and later fire an employee who was attempting to usurp his leadership on the board. All roads eventually lead to Lund and after Emilie goes missing it isn’t long before Sarah is on the scene taking her first steps in what the programme’s writer described as a ten week long chase scene.

After being treated to both Borgen and The Bridge earlier this year I thought that The Killing had a lot to live up to something it initially didn’t manage as he took me a while to get to know all of the characters. I also wasn’t a fan of this new Sarah Lund who puts wheelbarrow purchasing over actual police work however once she decodes that tattoo it’s all stations go as she goes full detective. After that it’s a question of connecting the dots between the Prime Minister, the Zeeland group and the investigation specifically whose been providing the cats that Emilie Zeuthen is seeing outside of her father’s house. The direction is as stylistic and moody which is best witnessed on the two scenes on the ghostly Medea and in the final few minutes of the episode after everyone discovers that Emilie has disappeared.

For most people The Killing is all about Sarah Lund and that’s down to the great job Sofie Grabol has done in getting us to love her complicated character over the last two series. Here Grabol introduces a new, more thoughtful Lund who is aware of some of the bad decisions she has made and is trying to make amends for them while in addition helping out the inexperienced Juncker. We also get the impression that there may well be some romance round the corner for Lund in the form of Borch as it is obvious that the two have a history together and there is a hint that the two shared some late night shenanigans during their time at police academy.

Though it’s early days I also quite enjoyed the performance of as the worthy Prime Minister Olaf Johannessen while it’s also great to have Morten Suurballe back as Lennart Brix as it wouldn’t be The Killing without one of his withering stares. Overall I have to say I’m sad that this will be the last series of one of the best TV dramas of all time however I’d prefer it to end with an involving story rather than just return for the hell of it. So for now I will make the most of this terrific mystery and in particular try to spot just how many jumpers Lund can wear in ten days.

Are you excited to have The Killing back? Are you a little disappointed that this is the final series? Leave your comments below.