TV Review: AMC Resurrects ‘The Killing’ with Intriguing Results

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CHICAGO – There are times when the third season premiere of AMC’s “The Killing” shows the signs of a program that was resurrected from the dead. The series was axed by AMC after a controversial end to the first season and disappointing second one. After working out terms with Netflix that would allow them exclusive access to the program if AMC brought it back, “The Killing” survived its near-death TV experience. But is it just the walking dead or has it been given new life? The truth is somewhere in between.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0

As mentioned, one can sense a bit of trepidation on the part of showrunner Veena Sud with the two-part season premiere. It’s not as if she’s turned her show into a cookie-cutter mystery series but the confidence of that season one series premiere does seem replaced by something more familiar. There’s still a nice dose of atmosphere but the show doesn’t have the personality it did in season one (although detractors of the show may appreciate the less stylish approach). I felt at times like I wasn’t watching “The Killing,” just another mystery program, and I missed the adult approach to character that I found in that brilliant first season. Too much of the start of season three feels routine. It’s well-done routine with three excellent actors at its core but it’s routine nonetheless.

The Killing
The Killing
Photo credit: AMC

At least for the first night, the leads have somewhat switched roles. It’s been a year since the Rosie Larsen case was closed and Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) isn’t even on the force any more. Her former partner, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), catches a particularly brutal case in which a girl’s throat has been cut so badly that her head was nearly severed. Young girls, most of them homeless, are going missing, including Kallie (Cate Sproule), the best friend of a streetwise runaway named Bullet (Bex Taylor-Klaus), who will do anything to find her. Holder begins to investigate the death on his docket and it takes him to evidence related to a crime that Linden and her former partner (Elias Koteas) solved years ago, and the underground world of teen runaways.

The Killing
The Killing
Photo credit: AMC

Meanwhile, a death row inmate (Peter Sarsgaard) sees that his time is nearly up and could be coming to terms with his own violent ways. How does Sarsgaard’s arc intersect with the serial killer on the loose that Holder is trying to find? How does Linden’s old case intersect with the new disappearances? These are the questions that will fuel season three of “The Killing”. The great Amy Seimetz (“Upstream Color”) co-stars as Kallie’s mom.

A dead girl, a grieving mother, a mystery with personal repercussions — it all feels like “The Killing” thematically for a reason. Both Rosie Larsen and now Kallie feel like girls who were lost to a system that cultivates male aggression. I like the idea that Sud is at least thematically tying her seasons together even if she has discarded almost all of her talented supporting cast (Annie Corley does return and others may in the future).

It helps that Sud has replaced that lost ensemble with some very talented actors, including Koteas, Sarsgaard, and Seimetz, three people who make nearly everything they do better. Meanwhile, Kinnaman has turned into a more interesting actor by being allowed to play confident instead of the rookie arrogance that he portrayed the first two years. He’s an engaging lead.

Some of the pacing of the first two hours of “The Killing” feels a bit off but I think the show could be easing viewers into its new story slowly, which is probably a wise move. I wanted more of an explosive beginning, something to grab viewers by the throat and get them talking again. Sud and the creators of version 2.0 of “The Killing” are probably still a little burned by going from one of the hottest shows on TV to a Twitter firestorm to cancellation. It makes sense that they want to get back into viewer’s lives one slow step at a time. Most importantly, and really the only thing that matters, I’ll definitely be there next week, especially after the stunning final scene at the end of the two-hour premiere. I bet even those who took satisfaction in this show’s cancellation will be there with me.

“The Killing” stars Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Sarsgaard, Elias Koteas, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Cate Sproule, and Amy Seimetz. It returns on Sunday, June 2, 2013 on AMC at 7pm CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

JK's picture

Correction

Bullet isn’t transgendered. She’s a butch lesbian - she identifies as a woman.

BrianTT's picture

Corrected

Thanks. Corrected. To be honest, that’s what I thought but the press notes referred to her as transgendered when I used them to look up the performer’s name and so I went with it. I should have stuck with my instinct and not trusted notes I didn’t take.

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