The Killing centers around the investigation into the murder of a promising high school student, Rosie Larsen. Rosie’s death is the catalyst that threads together the different characters that make up this puzzle. There are her grieving parents Mitch and Stan Larsen, who struggle with their loss while trying to keep it together for their two young sons. The detectives on the case, Sarah Linden pulled into the investigation on her last day on the job and Stephen Holder, her abrasive new partner, a transfer from narcotics. City Council president, Darren Richmond who is thrust into the middle of the mystery when Rosie’s body is discovered in one of his campaign cars, provides a view into Seattle’s political scene. Finally, there is Rosie’s school and the effect her death has on her classmates and her English teacher, Bennet Ahmed.

The Killing is grey, misty, and moody. It rains a lot in Seattle and the show never lets you forget it. The music, which is going for this same dark, somber tone is a bit too heavy-handed. We get it. Seattle is gloomy. Don’t move there if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Mireille Enos, who was so good as twins Jodene and Kathy Marquart on Big Love is the stoic, nicotine gum chewing, single-minded cop on the trail of Rosie’s killer. Linden can’t let go of the investigation in spite of her neglected teen son who is crying out for attention and increasingly alienated fiancé waiting for her back in Napa Valley, CA. She is haunted by a past case that is repeatedly referred to but never explained. As a viewer this is frustrating because as the season progresses you want to know more about Linden. Someone please lock Linden up in an interrogation room and make her tell us the deep, dark secret of ‘the girl in that other case.’

The political storyline, which features Billy Campbell as Darren Richmond who is running for mayor is boring. Richmond comes off as a one-note, bland, do-gooder and completely unrealistic as a politician. Even when his character gets down and dirty it doesn’t create any sparks or excitement. Although Richmond is shown running around brooding for his wife who was killed by a drunk driver, you never get the sense you know this character. There’s no reason for the audience to be interested or invested in him except for how he may be tied to Rosie. (See Councilman Tommy Carcetti on The Wire for a gripping and nuanced depiction of an ambitious politician).

The show is at its best when focusing on the overwhelming grief of the Larsen family. Michelle Forbes is heartbreaking as Rosie’s grief ravaged mother who is at turns angry, numb, accusing and regretful. You can’t help but agree with her when a priest tells her Rosie is with God now and she strikes back telling him Rosie is supposed to be with her. Brent Sexton is equally gut wrenching as Rosie’s dad who at one point has to duck into a gas station bathroom to cry out of sight from his wife.

The show is well done, all the pieces are in place but there’s something about the execution the pacing, the look, subdued tone, that fails to grab the emotions. Despite the fact that it’s about a heart-wrenching event, there is a cold and distant veneer to this show that keeps the viewer at arms length making it all that much easier to switch the channel or walk away.

The show is well done, all the pieces are in place but there’s a cold and distant veneer to the storytelling that keeps the viewer at arms length. The Killing does not have the appeal of  AMC’s other dramas. It lacks the intricate character development of Mad Men and the excitement and suspense of The Walking Dead.  The bottom line is I can take the show or leave it.

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