TV review: “The Killing” sucks reviewer in for one more season

By Columbus Alive
From the May 30, 2013 edition

“The Killing” was AMC’s first (prestige?) drama to premiere after “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” The cable network was on a hot streak; critics and audiences expected excellence.

Well, “The Killing” didn’t live up to the hype — although following the footsteps of television’s two best shows isn’t easy — and turned out to be pretty terrible. The main problem was the lackluster storytelling that relied on constant red herrings and outlandish plot twists. For having such a serious tone, “The Killing” was pretty ridiculous in its first two seasons.

Well, now that the series has wrapped up the “Who Killed Rosie Larson?” plotline — unceremoniously — it’s on to another murder mystery for our dogged detectives, Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). When Holder catches a body that’s murdered in a similar fashion to an old case Linden closed — with the killer (Peter Sarsgaard) now awaiting execution — he seeks her help. A retired Linden doesn’t want to deal with the trauma of her getting too involved in a case, but you know she will.

The two-hour premiere presents many of the things “The Killing” does well — moody and beautifully haunting camerawork, some strong acting (particularly Kinnaman) and a mildly intriguing mystery — along with its most problematic elements. The writing can be rote or downright awful, the plot developments move too slowly and the mystery has a potentially obvious outcome.

It’s still too early to judge if a new case can breathe life back into “The Killing.” Going off the series’ — and showrunner Veena Sud’s — history, it’s hard to be optimistic.

Those of you burned by two seasons of the Rosie Larson mess will probably never return to “The Killing.” I can’t blame you. Me? I guess I’m a glutton for punishment because I think I’ll be watching this mystery unfold — at least until I get pissed off again.

I really enjoy Kinnaman in this — he’s hilarious, badass and dramatically captivating all at once — and Enos is strong, even with some poor material. I’m also a sucker for mysteries. I’m hesitantly giving “The Killing” another shot for a few more episodes, but I don’t feel real good about it.