Friday, March 30, 2012
In Defense of The Killing
I'm a huge fan of AMC's original programming. While I initially began watching Mad Men with my knives sharpened, I fell in love with the show before the pilot was over. And I was down with Breaking Bad from jump.
From there I sort of dropped the ball. I watched the first episode of Rubicon, but sadly I can't track any other episodes down. And I didn't even give Hell on Wheels a shot because of my general boycotting of Common doing anything other than rapping.
But then I saw The Killing was available on Netflix.
Now I'd heard quite a few things about The Killing. Being an avid reader of Entertainment Weekly and semi-active on Twitter I knew that the show built a vocal fanbase early. I also knew that those same fans turned on the show when SPOILER ALERT the murder mystery wasn't resolved by the end of the first season.
And I can sort of understand why people might feel cheated. If I'd gone into the finale expecting resolution, I'd be irked too. But by the same token, I don't know why they were expecting a resolution. The whole season was full of twists and turns, so why would everything be neatly wrapped up in the final episode?
I really think that's the sort of the mentality that we've grown into thanks to the Law & Order and the CSI franchises; we expect everything to be neatly wrapped up and all of the loose ends either clipped or tied.
Another common complaint about the show were about the frequent red herrings that the show employed. But honestly, when you've got to stretch a murder mystery across 13 episodes, you're going to use red herrings.
People also complained that those false leads grew increasingly improbable as the season progressed. Again, I'll defend the show. Here's the nature of some of those red herrings; inappropriate work relationships, secretive teenagers and isolated immigrant communities. Basically the red herrings came from people who a) had things to hide or b) are famously untrusting of police.
And again, thanks to Law & Order and CSI, viewers get frustrated when two detectives can't solve a complex murder in an hour...or a season.
The Killing does so many thing right. Honestly the show does the best juggling distinct yet tangentially connected story lines of any show since The Wire. For the most part every episode consists of three story lines; the Rosie Larsen murder investigation, the Larsen family coping with the loss of Rose and the Richmond mayoral campaign. There's also a fourth storyline in every episode that looks at a different character.
I can't recall a show that took a more stark portrait of grief. The Larsen family storyline is so powerful, it's absolutely impossible to look away, despite the fact that you're literally watching a family fall apart.
The Killing is so good that I blew through the majority of the season in 24 hours. It's so good that even though I watched just watched the entire first season on Netflix, I'm going to go out and buy it on DVD. The show is that good.
That said, I did take issue with the extreme departure from form in episode 11. It bordered on being cheap and exploitative. I appreciated the set up of having 24 hours to kill, but that void in the schedule could have been filled characters devoting to personal affairs and the same insight probably could have been gleamed, without the story that actually happened. Even with my qualms, the episode still had some redeeming moments.
So yeah, The Killing's second season starts on Sunday, so you've totally still got time to catch up on first season via Netflix. I strongly urge you to do so, because The Killing is probably the best "cop show" on television today.