Netflix Original – The Killing

I have often bashed the Netflix Originals, as they in general don’t appeal to me. Either I am not the right demographic, or I am picky, or as some readers say, I have no taste. No arguments there.

But I recently found a show that is pretty solid. The Killing turned up in a search for shows similar to my last binge watching, “Broadchurch”.

If you want to avoid spoilers, you should probably stop reading now.

Ok, you were warned. The show is filmed in Seattle, and the first two episodes was in reality one “case.” The initial case is the disappearance and murder of Rosie Larsen, a 17 year old high school student. Found in the trunk of a car, in a pond, she drowned when the car was dumped in the water. A truly horrible way to die.

The car was one of the pool cars from a local mayoral candidate’s campaign, a link to a politician. High profile box checked.

The investigators, Sarah Linden (played by Mireille Enos) who is hinted at having a troubled past, including a breakdown in a prior case, and Steven Holder, a sketchy ex-narco cop who was transferred to Homicide (or as they colloquially call it “a murder cop”). They are an odd couple, and there are some symptoms of the sketchiness as Linden sees Holder accept envelopes from a mysterious character.

The case covers the first two “seasons” or 26 45 minute episodes. 20ish hours is plenty of time for character development, and for story and plot lines to weft and wend. The writers take advantage of this opportunity to great affect.

The viewer sees several strong suspects rise and fall. The family, the ex-boyfriend, the teacher (who really appeared to be sketchy, but in reality was a pretty decent human who got the ever-loving shit kicked out of him by the victims father), there is a Polish mafia connection, a greedy Indian chief and the casino on their land, politician (mayoral candidate Richmond) who had some other funky shit going on, and the current mayor who seems like sleaze.

Yep, plenty of antagonists, and people who don’t engender sympathy. Add to that the dynamic of Linden’s mental state, her rebellious teenager, and her past in the Foster Care system, coupled with an ex-Narco cop who seems “dirty”.

In all it was entertaining, but, and this is a huge but, there are some things that are hard to believe.

  1. The show has a timeline. The 26 episodes are tied to the days since the crime occurred. Not a bad strategy, but, there are some issues. First is that things happen too fast. Around the 18th day, Rosie’s mother leaves to “find” herself. In the space of 8 days, she goes on a vision quest, she “sees” Rosie in other wayward teenaged girls. She has a fling with a traveling salesman in a bar (that was creepy, as she is a grieving middle aged woman, not what you would expect from such a character. She visits an old lover, whom is actually Rosie’s father, but whom Rosie had also visited, and had confided in that she was going to strike out on her own.

  2. Related to the timeline, in the second “season” the mayoral candidate is arrested and charged, as his alibi falls apart, and he is shot by a friend of the family of the victim. He is paralyzed from the waist down. His campaign seemingly over, he actually returned to the campaign trail in like 4 days (episodes, one for each day, remember?) What is the likelihood that you get shot, recover enough to leave the hospital, and return to the campaign trail all in less than 2 weeks? I will tell you the odds of that are nil.

  3. Holder, ex-narc, attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Yes, he is a recovering tweaker. How likely is it that he remains a police officer, and is promoted to Homicide? I can tell you the odds of this too. Nil.

  4. Rain. Yes, it is filmed in Seattle, known as a rainy place, but damn, it seems like they went out of their way to use the weather to frame the show. In a way it fits, because the subject matter is

There are more, and if you think too hard about it, you lose some of the respect for the show. Still, it has solid writing, and is worthy of a watch. At least Season 1 and 2. I am working my way through Season 2 now, and I will admit, it is not as enjoyable. Part of it is the subject, grisly murders of young girls on the street. But a big part of it is the transformation of Holder into a respectable cop, wearing a jacket and tie, when he still looks and acts like an ex tweaker. I suspect I will not complete this “case”.

But, I will admit that my suspicions of all Netflix Originals as awful doesn’t universally apply. One last note though, unlike most made for streaming (and thus no commercial breaks), this show has those giveaway transitions that are natural commercial breaks. Perhaps this was under development for the TV market and picked up? Not sure (I probably could research that, but I am feeling lazy on a Friday).

Answer: It was an AMC property, that AMC dropped after three seasons. Netflix picked it up to have a proper sendoff and ending, producing a 4th season, and hence the “Netflix Original” moniker. Alas, it wasn’t Netflix from the start.


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