The Killing US on Channel 4: Series 2 Episode One Reviewed

by Matt D

I think a lot of people were annoyed at the final episode of The Killing series one, as they didn’t get the pay-off that they were expecting namely the identity of the person who murdered Rosie Larson, loaded her body into the boot of a car and dumped into the lake. The frustration was even greater because The Killing, or The Killing US as we’ve come to know it, is based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen whose first season did indeed end with the revelation of the killer. Though there are a lot of differences between the Danish and American series for example, as Sarah Linden discovered at the end of the last episode, her partner/replacement Stephen Holder may’ve doctored evidence to identify Rosie’s murderer as mayoral candidate Darren Richmond something that his Danish counterpart Jan Meyer never did. The evidence in question was a picture taken by a toll-booth camera placing Richmond at the scene however Linden discovered that these cameras had been out for several months so this picture must be a fake the only problem was that Sarah was on a plane at the time about to start a new life in California. Meanwhile things weren’t looking too peachy for Richmond either as he was shot by friend of the Larsen family Belko Royce.

The opening scene of season two sees Sarah and son Jack back in Seattle airport having somehow made it off the plane, later we found out Sarah had a screaming match with a stewardess, as she wants to get to the bottom of the case. However she finds out that Holder might not be the only policeman involved in the conspiracy as her boss seemingly betrays her trust by informing the local sheriff’s department that Sarah may come looking for written proof that the cameras were indeed not functioning on that night. Meanwhile a nervous Holder wonders why Linden is back and believes rightly that she is on to his scheme by the end of the episode she is able to link someone else to the conspiracy. Holder is having troubles of his own as Royce’s shooting of Richmond wasn’t something he’d planned and with a crazed Belko behind bars wanting to speak to Stan Larsen he realises that framing an innocent man may not have panned out well especially when he finds new evidence relating to Rosie’s companion on the night of her murder. We don’t see any of Richmond instead we just follow his worried campaign team waiting patiently at the hospital for news of his recovery while doctors come out every now and then to inform them that he might not pull through. The final thread involves the Larsen family as Stan is still struggling to cope with Mitch away so he turns to her sister to help him with the two sons who are become increasingly worried about their parents since their sister was murdered.

In terms of tone this episode of the American adaptation of The Killing is one that comes closest to matching the tone of the Danish original. The moody lighting of cut-price hotel rooms and deals been done in parking lots fit right in here while I also appreciated the fact that the script wasn’t as expositional as it had been in series one. Sarah’s paranoia, Holder’s guilt, Richmond’s friends worrying as his life hangs in the balance, Belko’s altered mental state and the Larsen family’s problems are put ahead of the central mystery in episode one. I do realise some people want an instant pay-off and a new suspect if indeed Richmond has been ruled out as the culprit however this seemed to me to be the perfect way to ease ourselves back into the plot. I think Mireille Enos makes a good Sarah as demonstrated in this episode by combining a twitchiness to convey her constant paranoia as well as moments of strength such as when she explains to her son why she doesn’t want him spending time with her father. It’s a shame in this first episode that Michelle Forbes, who plays the Larsen matriarch Mitch, didn’t feature however absence was rightly felt in the Larsen household.

A lot of my criticisms are based on comparisons between this and the Danish show however I have to say I’ve never quite warmed to Joel Kinnaman as Holder as I find him both annoying and patronising with no redeeming features to speak off. The main thing that bothers me about the Sarah character is the constant reiteration of her mental instability and how in the past this has affected her judgment though there was a similar theme in Forbyrdelsen it was left a little more ambiguous while in the American version it is mentioned at least once every episode. Overall I feel that the right tone has been set in this series opener which deftly set about resolving the cliff-hangers from last season in a pleasing way. Though I do have some problems with the acting and characterisation I found there was enough plot progression to keep me interested with the majority of the characters getting some time to shine throughout the episode. One thing is clear now though that The Killing US is going in a drastically different direction to the Danish original however you’ll have to tune in tonight to find out what I mean.

Are you a fan of the US Killing? How do you think it compares to the Danish version? Leave Your Comments Below.