Review: ‘The Killing’

The Killing Season 3

Third season of moody AMC mystery looks like a deal in search of a show

Few series have demonstrated the unforgiving nature of the media and TV’s Web-connected super-fans better than “The Killing,” which drew them in with its hypnotic pace, then disappointed many with its misleading “We’ll wrap this up in season one” finale. The show limped through a second-season conclusion with considerably less fanfare, and now returns with a new mystery, feeling very much like yesterday’s news. As usual, the two-hour premiere closes with a flourish, but it’s a long slog to that point, with one compelling cast addition and plot threads that otherwise engage in a different type of killing – specifically, time.

Although there were several good business reasons to bring “The Killing” back — under a multi-pronged deal involving AMC, Netflix and Fox’s distribution apparatus — the artistic ones are considerably less obvious. Having told, for better or worse, a self-contained story, this almost can’t help but look like a deal in search of a show.

Sure, it’s fun seeing Joel Kinnaman saunter through his offbeat role as a too-hip homicide detective, enlisting Mireille Enos — playing his former partner, the chronically pained-looking Sarah Linden — to help with a grisly new case, which might connect to one of her old ones.

The network and producers have asked critics not to divulge key plot points, and given the languid pacing, I’m not sure I could even if I wanted to. If there was something exotic at first about the idea of capturing the plodding aspects of police work, “The Killing” seems almost determined to make AMC’s Sunday-night staple “Mad Men” look like a Michael Bay movie by comparison.

Beyond the central duo’s initially sparsely connected threads and the splendid addition of Peter Sarsgaard as Ray Seward, a hollow-eyed Death Row inmate, much of the narrative meanders — so slow, bleak and dreary, it’s difficult to muster much interest as to when (inevitably) it’s all going to begin to intersect.

It’s too bad, really, since the show has certainly assembled a fine cast, and some of the elements (starting with that percussive score) remain arresting.

Still, if the first year of “The Killing” hinged on the unanswered question “Who killed Rosie Larsen?,” there’s less suspense surrounding what killed the franchise. And while the program might be viable thanks to the various parties with a stake in it, in terms of it being anything worth getting excited about in this very busy summer, mark “The Killing” down as DOA.

The Killing

(Series; AMC, Sun. June 2, 8 p.m.)


Filmed in Vancouver by KMF Films and Fabrik Entertainment in association with Fox Television Studios.


Executive producers, Veena Sud, Mikkel Bondesen, Dawn Prestwich, Nicole Yorkin; co-executive producers, Ron French, Kristen Campo; supervising producer, Brett Conrad; directors, Ed Bianchi, Lodge Kerrigan; writers, Sud, Dan Nowak; camera, Gregory Middleton; production designer, Michael Bolton; editors, Elizabeth Kling, Joel T. Pashby; music, Frans Bak; casting, Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein. 120 MIN.


Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Sarsgaard, Elias Koteas, Amy Seimetz, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Cate Sproule, Julie Stone, Max Fowler, Hugh Dillon, Ben Cotton, Aaron Douglas, Ryan Robbins, Jay Lewis, Gregg Henry.

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  1. DLB says:

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    I found Season 3 of The Killing to be gripping, insightful, character driven television. Peter Saarsgard’s acting was sublime–and the plot twists weren’t mere red herrings(I won’t give away anymore of the plot).

    Did you even watch the entire season?

    I will give you this: Seasons 1 was painfully slow, and Season 2 was dreadful.

    But Season 3 was everything I thought The Killing could be: excellent story arc to go with the beautiful cinematography and stellar cast.

    For a television review, I gave it 4/5 stars.

  2. wayne says:

    The draw of the “original” Killing was the actors of course, all of them, and the look and feel of the show. This 3rd season, with the exception of Enos and Kinnaman, has lost the whole draw to the original fan base. I was genuinely looking forward to the new season.

  3. prost says:

    seems like in order to look intelligent every critic has to like madmen and breaking bad and criticize the killing. Poor “killing” is becoming the scapegoat. Sorry to say this, this is a pretty much pretentious review..Seems like reviewer has already made up his mind to trash this show, since if he says that there is something good in it , he will fall in intelligence before his esteemed peers.

  4. carole oreilly says:

    it is so dark you can not see anything half the time I hope they clear up or ill stop watching

  5. Daryle Gardner-Bonneau says:

    Agree that this wasn’t much of a review, and also agree that the current lack of “intelligence” in both movies and much of network TV leaves one craving ANYTHING in which people can demonstrate some acting “chops,” and where viewers can enjoy a reasonably intelligent story line. I will certainly give it a chance and hopes it lives up to some of the other quality fare we see on cable – e.g., Game of Thrones and The Borgias.

  6. Sam says:

    Wow this gut is an idiot. The killing is a great show, and I agree with the first comment “I was hoping for an intelligent article on the merits of the new season but what i got was typical lazy reporting. Just old news wrapped by this so called reviewers bloated ego.” you got it right. there is not talking about the amazing acting, or fantastic cinematography im sick and tired of reading reviews from morons who have no idea what the are talking about. If Netflix is putting money into this show there is a reason for it. Terrible review Brian Lowry.

  7. The Kingslayer says:

    They should have just let the show die.

    • DLB says:

      Did you watch season 3?

      I enjoyed the entire season, but Peter Saarsgard’s character arc (and acting)was reason alone to watch.

  8. Matt Mulhern says:

    Ouch. you know, These two, Enos and Kinnaman are two of the best out there, and I think that’s reason alone to watch. I actually think these things are so freaking hard to guesstimate, that you increasingly end up in situations like this in the good ol USA.

    We were just talking – (me and some incredibly unimportant people, including me) – about what “Behind the Candelabra” said about the movies, and, one unimportant person said “well, maybe things will start to change as a result,” meaning, the outlets that are providing homes for “alternate programming” like “AMC with “The Killing” (aka, not ” A Hangover sequel or shit blowing up, or you know… the movies) are possibly starting to show suits how people will watch good stuff, even if it’s flawed, and what isn’t flawed?

    Based on the … Norwegian show? “Flur Bingleshmyzzen,” “The Killing” probably freaked out when they saw the reviews and realized “holy shit, in America (fuck yeah!), we wrap our damn shit up in one show!”

    So, “a whole season to wrap up? The critics LOVE it, AMC LOVES it, yeah!!!” – probably SOUNDED awesome, but then, you see a possibility of a season 2 and then, it’s obviously… “OK, once we find out “Who Killed Rosie Larson,” does season 2 become “Who Insulted Arnold Palmer?”

    See, in the rest of the world, they crank out, like 4 BBC Shows, then … just … go away… It drives me nuts. That was GREAT!!! WHEN does it come back???!!!!

    “Next year, perhaps, or, if The Queen sells a few hats…” It is SO much less planned , less financed, and less beholden to RULES, that they make increasingly GOOD stuff and aren’t weighed down by – “24 plus 24 equals 48 and … ok, we have to wait three whole years to get the BOAT!!!”

    Anyway. Love the show, Enos and Kinnamen rock.

  9. Elias Koteas says:

    How disheartening. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion but how jaded self righteous and self important can you be? I was hoping for an intelligent article on the merits of the new season but what i got was typical lazy reporting. Just old news wrapped by this so called reviewers bloated ego.

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