TV Series Review: The Killing (US)


Have you ever watched something that you couldn’t get enough of? That consumed your every waking thought and haunted your dreams at night when you finally managed to close your eyes? I know this is not the kind of thing I usually write about on my blog, but I had to make an exception this time around because this series, The Killing, had a profound effect on me and I have been practically been itching with the need to write down my thoughts on this one.

The Killing premiered for the first time as a US Television Drama on AMC in 2011. Based on a Danish television series known as Forbrydelsen (literally The Crime), the first season premiered with the story of the dead body of a 17 year old girl known as Rosie Larsen found in the trunk of a submerged car. Detective Sarah Linden, the lead detective on the case who actually finds the body is supposed to leave Seattle and move on with her fiance and her young teenage son to a new city, for a brand new start.

From the moment Sarah finds the body, she is consumed with the need to find the killer though she is obviously conflicted with the needs her personal life demands from her. To make matters worse, Sarah is saddled with the new incoming Detective Stephen Holder, the seemingly laid back rookie detective that she would rather not have by her side. But Holder surprises Sarah and the viewers with his ability to make people talk, put kids at ease because at one time or the other he practically looks like he belongs with them. Holder brings humor to the otherwise tension wrought drama that unfolds. Holder-isms as they are known as among fans is one endearing quality to his character that I couldn’t get enough of.

To make the story more intriguing, there is the ongoing election that sheds light on the dirty politics that governs the city and is somehow intrinsically tied to the murder of Rosie Larsen. There is also the continuing storyline of how the Larsen family continues to deal with the tragedy of losing their only daughter, the effect it has on the two boys left behind and the most shocking secret of all revealed towards the end of season two which signaled the end of the Rosie Larsen case.

Season 3 brought to life a different sort of case, a serial murderer who targets mostly little girls, some as young as even 12 years old, living off the streets by selling their bodies. None of what follows makes for an easy watch, the underlying story of child prostitution, the decay rotting deep inside society that allows that to happen and the story of a man convicted for the murder of his wife, a prostitute, who had been killed eerily in a manner similar to that of the bodies of the young girls turning up. What makes the case personal for Sarah is the fact that it had been her first case, the conviction though she had not been entirely convinced had gone through and now Sarah fears that they have sent the wrong man to hang for a crime he never committed.


The emotional intensity of season 3 in my opinion was way higher than the previous two seasons and I would say the best season altogether if you compare the four seasons. The episode that highlighted the hanging of the said man set my heart racing. I couldn’t speak, and at times I couldn’t breathe properly for the fear that Sarah and Holder wouldn’t be able to get him freed in time. What followed was shocking and I am still paralyzed at times when I recall the total and utter havoc that particular episode wrought in me. Definitely something I wouldn’t forget anytime soon.

The Killing, as what happens to any TV series that I actually like, went into its final season this year. The fourth season just premiered 6 episodes, and I am forever thankful to Netflix for giving viewers the closure that they require after having laid a path of utter destruction in the wake of its episodes the previous three seasons.

Season 4, though didn’t offer a crime of the nature that set my pulse pounding, it nevertheless once again opened up a storyline that few would highlight upon. The amount of bullying that goes on in military academies for boys from ultra rich families that is sort of a last resort for the families and their often devastating implications. We always seem to stereotype the rich kids as to having it all. Season 4 of The Killing certainly sheds a different light to that theory altogether. The seemingly normal family of one of the young men, brutally slain, reveals secrets in the wake of their murders, secrets that have consequences which the finale addresses.

The Killing is a series that doesn’t offer neatly wrapped solutions at the end of each episode. The Killing shows what it actually means to solve a murder, something not as easy as clicking a mouse and finding locations of the killer as some crime drama on TV might have us all believe. It affects the lives of the detectives, none can hold a seemingly normal life and no wonder, after having to deal with the worst of the scum the human life has to offer. There goes periods of time they keep running on cigarettes and coffee for 36 hours straight and there are times they make mistakes, huge ones with devastating consequences as the seasons would attest. That is the realistic edge to this show that makes it stand out if you ask me.

Besides the in-depth story lines involving the crimes, Sarah and Holder turned out to be two characters with an equally interesting past to them. Sarah’s inability to commit to anyone in her life, her less than exemplary parenting skills, the way she puts up her walls so thick and so high; I only get to read about characters like Sarah in books and it was a novelty seeing it practically happen on the TV screen. I totally got Sarah’s character; some might not. Her son is practically everything in her life, but her childhood had left its own scars that become vivid, displayed in technicolor every time Holder got her to open up. And given that those times were quite few, I lapped them up with the kind of interest you wouldn’t believe.


Then there’s Holder. Holder got under my skin, into my mind and into my heart from season 1 itself. There is that certain something about him that deems him irresistible. He is a complete asshole at times, he has a past, the demons of which still hound him, and he too has a hard time fostering relations with his family. Above all that, he is loyal to boot, something that shines through his character in every possible manner.

Sarah and Holder definitely make a pair. They are partners in every sense. There for each other through thick and thin, their feelings towards each other strong on a level that is inexplicable, especially on Sarah’s part. The end to Sarah and Holder’s story came in a way that satisfied my soul. I wanted something more for them when all had been said and done. Some didn’t feel it right that they would feel something more for each other than what was portrayed in the series. I saw beyond that.

I saw the fact that while Sarah had no problem getting it on physically with a number of men, she kept Holder at an arm’s length. The one time Holder couldn’t hold back, Sarah turned away, and they never spoke of it again. To me, that signified how important Holder was to Sarah though she wouldn’t admit it even if you tortured her in a million little ways. The period of separation that happens between them, Sarah going off to find herself, to lay her demons to rest and to eventually return to Holder, the only place where she had felt at home proved what I had felt beyond a shadow of doubt from the beginning. Holder and Sarah are ying and yang, complete only when together. I think ending season 4 without showing any sort of physical intimacy between Sarah and Holder was the director’s way of letting the viewer reach a conclusion that best suited them. Some find it easier to say they remained as friends, I say, she wouldn’t have returned after saying her goodbyes just because she wanted to be friends. And in there lies the reason I was able to make peace with the ending of a show that would continue to haunt me a long time to come.


If you are fan of deep story telling, characters that would drive you positively nuts and willing to lose sleep over a television drama, I would recommend The Killing. I lived through it and survived. I just hope you do as well.

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