“The Killing” returns, better than before

Which is not saying much

Topics: The Killing, amc, veena sud, TV, Television,

"The Killing" returns, better than beforeSarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) - The Killing _ Season 3 _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC (Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/amc)

“The Killing” returns from the dead this Sunday night on AMC. The crime show, which infamously ended its first season without revealing who killed Rosie Larsen, was canceled at the end its second season and the resolution of the Larsen murder. (The aunt did it, a factoid that recently came up at a bar, where three out of four people polled failed to remember it.) But then, like one of the zombies on AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” “The Killing” lurched back to life for a third season and a fresh start. Or really a “fresh” start. The new season of “The Killing,” like the old seasons of “The Killing,” contains rain, sweaters, shoddy police work, endless whispering and an unerring instinct for pretentiousness, but at least there’s a whole new case, this one involving a serial killer decapitating and raping street kids. It’s an improvement.

What I’m about to say sounds like an insult — is, basically, an insult — but is not just an insult. If the new season of “The Killing” had a motto it would not be, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” it would be “If it is broke, still don’t fix it.” The show’s dedication to not fixing what is broken — creator Veena Sud’s faith that being a bad version of “The Sopranos” is somehow better than being a great version of “CSI” — is remarkable, but, in this new season, also, finally, sort of endearing. No one can say “The Killing” isn’t reliable. You know what you’re going to get. Its formula might not add up to much, but it does add up to something. Even a waterlogged clock with a symbolic nicotine addiction is right twice a day.

The new series picks up about a year after the last left off. Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is now working minimum wage doing security for ferries, having lots of sex with a much younger guy, and smiling. Obviously, this cannot stand. When Linden is doing what she loves, she is miserable. Soon, her old partner Holder (Joel Kinnaman), who has spent the last year being a good and healthy cop (his new girlfriend buys him an electric toothbrush), catches a case— a decapitated 14-year-old— that reminds him of one of Linden’s old cases. It just so happens that old case is the exact case that drove Linden crazy many years ago and was mentioned regularly in season 2: It involved a small boy being locked in an apartment with the corpse of his dead mother for six days and then compulsively drawing pictures of a copse of trees. Linden is sucked back in. The smoking starts, the smiling stops, she whips out a really fluffy turtleneck, does some basic due diligence and ta-dah: serial killer.



As sick as I am of serial killers on TV, this is a good choice for “The Killing.” It is finally unshackled, plotwise, from the far better Danish version of the show and should be able to pace itself in a more effective and gripping way than it did it the past. It also means the new season does not involve slogging through Seattle politics or being trapped in the claustrophobic Larsen house, but instead features Peter Sarsgaard as a maniac who is, probably, wrongly on death row and four homeless teenagers who encourage Holder to dig deep on his street slang (and unlike their elders seem to know how to use cellphones). Come for Holder’s diet tips, stay to see Linden’s sweaters, and expect them to mess up the case in a million ways before they finally catch the bad guy at great personal psychological expense.

And when things do get pompous, at this point, that feels like an expected part of the experience. Linden goes out for a run and it starts to rain. When she takes shelter in an abandoned stable, I started to laugh: Since when has Linden — a woman who refuses to wear a raincoat or carry an umbrella even though it is always raining — ever, ever, ever taken shelter from some drizzle? The answer is, when she needs to make a metaphor. The stable is full of abandoned and plagued cattle corpses and one sickly, moaning cow. Sarah goes back home, gets her gun, trudges back through the rain, and shoots the cow in the head. See, sometimes doing the right thing means picking up your gun again; or sometimes doing the right things means killing what’s sweet and cow-eyed; or sometimes doing the right thing means going out in the rain; or invent your own meaning for the sad cow because with “The Killing” poking fun is part of the fun.

Willa Paskin

Willa Paskin is Salon's staff TV writer.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.

       

    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."

    Reuters/NASA

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>