It ain’t easy being a fan of AMC’s “The Killing.” Critics weren’t overly impressed with the first two seasons of the dark drama, and viewership — while not what horrible — was low enough that the network actually canceled the show. It earned a reprieve only when Fox Television Studios stepped in to co-finance the production of a third season.
Maybe that’s why the show’s third season kicked off with a two-hour installment Sunday which, while just as dour and depressing as ever, felt far more accessible than before. In fact, at times, it came across almost like — gasp! — “Law & Order: Seattle.”
No, Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) aren’t turning into Benson and Stabler, but there’s a sense of accessibility to the proceedings that definitely wasn’t there when “The Killing” transitioned between its freshman and sophomore years.
That’s not to say there weren’t some shocking and startling moments throughout the course of the proceedings.
Rape & Murder, Inc.
Thank heavens for Gregg Henry, who — as Holder’s probably-temporary new partner, Carl — added a hint of humor to the season premiere, which otherwise seemed to be trying to convince viewers that the unofficial motto of Seattle is “The City Where Light, Hope, Good Cheer and Teenagers Go to Die.”
It’s going to be a rough season for all the parents watching the show, based on the way grubby young girls are being picked up by the new serial killer roaming the streets, but while death is basically inevitable with a series called “The Killing,” it was far more shocking when the small but scrappy Bullet was raped by Goldie, soon to be known around the ‘net as the Limping Pimp.
Dead(ly) man walking
Although it’s currently unclear exactly what role Death Row inmate Seward has in the aforementioned series of serial killings, which seem to mimic his M.O., Peter Sarsgaard’s already done plenty to make his character horrifically memorable.
Despite the crimes that put him on the fast track to execution, Seward possesses an innate charisma that he used several times to toy with those who ventured into the vicinity of his cell, but none were quite as disturbing as the first. He responded to a visiting priest’s offer of spiritual salvation by chatting calmly with him, then abruptly reaching out, grabbing the back of the man’s head and repeatedly slamming him face-first against the bars.
For the trees
Although “The Killing” currently feels less like an AMC product and more like something you might see on CBS (there’s a lot of “Criminal Minds” in the show’s DNA at the moment), there were a lot of less flashy but still captivating story lines in the season premiere, and the one that grew more and more intriguing over the course of the episode was that of Seward’s son, who endured six days with his mother’s decomposing corpse and has since developed a recurring tendency to draw the same series of trees. Viewers have still just seen the son only from afar, but after getting a long, lingering and shudder-inducing look at the actual location represented in his drawing, there’s little doubt that fans will be getting up close and personal with the lad in short order.