Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"The Killing" Season 1 Review

Minor Season 1 Spoilers Follow

I missed The Killing when it aired on television last year, but recently picked up the complete season on Blue Ray. I wasn't quite able to catch up before the premier of Season 2, but I'll go ahead and quickly share some of my overall thoughts on the first season.

It would be impossible to review an entire season of a show in any detail with the amount of free time I currently have, so I will instead go over my major impressions, and things that stood out.

The first thing I'd like to address is the talent of the actors in the show. With only a few exceptions, this is some of the most believable acting I've ever seen on a television series. Particular standouts in my opinion were Brent Sexton (Stan Larsen), who played one of the strongest characters I've ever seen in any medium, be it film, television, or anything else. Of course, the two main characters also played very convincing characters, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman as detectives Linden and Holder respectively. The huge cast of supporting characters were all worth mentioning as well, but to do so would take up too much space.

As is the case with every AMC series, the cinematography and music are both top notch. I especially liked the shots of the gurneys that focused on one rattling wheel (such as when Rosie was being wheeled into the coroner's office). The show stuck to a one episode for each day of the investigation pace, which worked well overall, although I'm glad that some episodes had a several minute overlap before the next day would start, to keep it from being locked into ending episodes at inopportune moments.

An especially powerful performance by Brent Sexton

The plot itself was fascinating, and unwinds as well as any murder mystery ever told. It seems like just about everyone in the show is under suspicion at one point, which makes it hard to ever predict where things are going. This also had the negative side effect of making it hard to pick a character to root for. Stan Larsen was admirable throughout, despite his own problems, but many other characters at some point made you question whether or not you should even sympathize with them.

I should also mention that since I watched this season as Season 2 was being advertised on AMC, I had a different perspective from most people who reviewed the episodes as they were released. Not only did I know that there would be a second season (which already changed my entire perspective), but I also knew of the general dissatisfaction with the final episode of the season. Knowing these two huge details allowed for me to have a different set of expectations watching it, and I feel like actually helped me enjoy the season, especially "Orpheus Descending" much more than those who saw it live.

I would like to make two points regarding the plot. First, the 11th episode, "Missing", was completely out of place. This episode broke up the flow of the show, just as things were building to a climax. This episode would have been better placed earlier in the season, because while it did offer some great character development, it would have benefited by not existing in the middle of a much more important storyline. However, nearly every other episode of the season was perfect where it was at, and I rarely found myself dissatisfied after watching an episode (though I also had the benefit of being able to watch the following episode right after).

Now in regards to the finale, I discussed it for a while with my friends afterwards, and came to the conclusion that it was not nearly as bad as fans had made it out to be. Knowing that there was a second season on the way, and that Rosie's killer would not be caught certainly biased my opinion, but I felt that the final episode succeeded in proposing several new questions which will hopefully be answered throughout the second season. It would have been nice to have some sort of closure however, a resolution to at least some plot line somewhere, instead the episode felt like just any other episode, and after watching the premier of the second season, I can certainly say that it feels like the show never really stopped. While this isn't the worst tactic, many fans were upset with the lack of closure offered by the finale.

All in all though, I added another series to AMC's already impressive list of shows, one that easily hangs in there with any other show. I expected slightly less from this show than say, Breaking Bad, but was pleasantly surprised with an emotional story, full of twists and turns, and the character development and moral ambiguity I've come to expect from AMC dramas. Now that I'm caught up, I can continue to review new episodes as they air, so keep your eyes open for them.

Overall Score:   8.5/10


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