This box set of the 1st 3 seasons of the US version of The Killing is an interesting mixed bag, I mean box…whatever.
If like me you have seen the Danish version (Forbrydelsen) then you too will have fallen in love with Sarah Lund, her jumpers and her unapologetic obsessions with winning at all costs.
It was with some trepidation therefore that I approached the US version, worried that it might ruin my love of the original as so often happens with remakes (there are some US remade films and TV series I refuse to watch for this every reason).
Here’s the lowdown: Rosie Larsen is a teenager who goes missing and turns up dead, Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and her partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) try to track down the killer, Rosie’s parents struggle to cope with the death and local MP Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) is trying to run for office and it’s all very complicated.
Season 1 corresponds fairly regularly to the first 10 or so episodes of the Danish version but it ends at episode 13 with a cliff-hanger and no resolution to who did kill Rosie Larsen. It also reassuringly has the same jumpers and haunting music as the original. Season 2 picks up at said cliff hanger (the beauty of a box set, not having to wait to find out what happens next); except that this is where the US version does its own thing. It was pretty confusing as to what was going on, there were a lot of unnecessary plot twists and additions that just detract from the main themes I so loved in the original. Unfortunately the decision to do its own thing at this point makes it simply not as good as it could be, or as good as the original; packing in assassination attempts, road trips, mob biz just detracts from the main plot line which made Forbrydelsen so compelling. It also weirdly gets a bit Twin Peaks in season 2, far too many Laura Palmer moments started springing to mind for a while which confused me even further.
My main beefs with this one compared to the original one – sorry I have to compare – are the need to explain Linden’s character with some orphan back story, to make her partner an ex junkie instead of the original’s family man and make the dead girl some saintly virgin who just wants to have an adventure. Why the Americans need to have a reason for their cops to behave like unreasonable obsessive assholes is beyond me, sometimes people are just assholes and that’s ok (it’s the European in me).
Season 3 lowdown: Linden has stopped being a cop and has a hot young boyfriend, Holder is on his way to a promotion, the discovery of a lot of dead bodies bring up a past case that haunts Linden and gets them on the hunt for a serial killer.
This is more like it. The story does its own thing in this season and it makes for a much more assured outing. The characters have settled themselves in, and as in season 1 and 2, for me the highlight is Joel Kinnaman; not only nice to look at in his lanky greasy haired home boy way but his wandering accent and street talk are totally endearing.
There are some great star turns in S3; Peter Sarsgaard does a great turn as Ray Seward, a con awaiting execution on death row and Elias Koteas as police chief James Skinner give notable performances. The story is interesting and disturbing; this one has a bit of The Wire S4 about it with a strong cast of kids living on the streets, inevitably exposed to violence and drugs.
They steal a few elements from S2 of the Danish version but not so much that is annoys or detracts. There’s no denying that Mireille Enos is a great actor and the series is visually compelling making great use of moody, rainy Seattle.
If you have seen Forbrydelsen perhaps you could bypass S1 and S2 of The Killing and go straight to S3 but if you can’t get enough of moody cops and cosy knits or hate subtitles then go for the whole set.
I look forward to Season 4.
The Killing Seasons 1-3 (also available in single season sets) is out now in the UK on DVD and Blu-Ray, released by Mediumrare.