One episode in and we’re already mesmerized by AMC’s new Seattle-set drama, The Killing. It’s the spawn of two excellent TV traditions: a dead-girl storyline (we remember you fondly, Twin Peaks and Veronica Mars) and the channel that brought us Mad Men and The Walking Dead. Adapted from a Danish show, The Killing has a lot of style to balance the crime-solving substance, a bleak, gray palate borrowed from its Scandinavian parent (or from Steve Pool’s recent forecasts). It’s filmed primarily in Vancouver, but that’s close enough for accurate drizzle.
The two-part premiere on Sunday night had a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of establishing shots of the Space Needle to show. We learned that Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen is missing, then dead, drowned in Discovery Park after a school dance. But she was beaten first; while most school basements are full of deflated tetherballs, Rosie’s has a little serial-killer bungalow, complete with bloody bed. The whodunit is complicated by the fact that Rosie was found in a car belonging to the mayoral campaign of City Council President Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell). There are a lot of holes for the series to explore—are the Larsen parents merely devastated, or are they hiding something? Is Rosie’s rich-kid boyfriend too obvious to be the killer? And where’s the political angle going? (Please don’t tell us that Rosie was whacked because she discovered some secret documents about the deep-bore tunnel overrun costs. For the love of Mayor McGinn, please.)
Detective Linden is at the center of both the case and the show, and her spotlight is well-earned. Actress Mirielle Enos has morphed the spaciness she showed in Big Love into a steely calm. (Fun fact! Enos is married to actor Alan Ruck, aka Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which obviously means they sing this over the breakfast table.)
But it’s Linden’s partner Stephen Holder (a lanky Joel Kinnaman) that has me hooked on this show. First of all, he’s a total ass; he whinges about protocol and asks a high school teacher if he “tapped that” teenager. But here’s my prediction: Holder is more than a scummy loose-cannon cliché. He’s crazy like a fox. After working as an undercover cop, he knows the power of lowering someone’s guard, even giving underage girls weed so that they’ll reveal their high school’s seedy underbelly. Just watch, Holder’s going to get more emotionally invested in finding Rosie’s killer than anybody. Need a bolder prediction? Hmm…okay, he’s totally going to crush on the practical, grim Linden when even his brattiest misbehavior fails to nail the killer. Prove me wrong, AMC.
Seattle Met will be following The Killing through its first-season run, keeping an eye out for fake Seattle shots and recapping each Monday with our current pick for Rosie’s murderer. So far, every single character—except maybe Detective Linden and her 13-year-old son—is a suspect. But with almost nothing to go on but gut instinct, I’m naming Gwen, Richmond’s campaign manager, as the killer. She’d do anything for her candidate-slash-boyfriend, and homegirl is intense.
Anyone else dare to hazard a guess this early? After what happened to my March Madness bracket, I’ve learned that the wildest guess can be the smartest.
The Killing airs Sundays at 10pm. Missed the premiere? We present…episodes 1 and 2.