Sunday, July 17, 2011

Musings on The Killing

Reading Megan Abbott's The End of Everything this past week put me in mind of the AMC series The Killing (whose inaugural season concluded last month).  Here are some random thoughts about the crime drama (to read my earlier review of the show, click here):

Yes, the show has a dynamite narrative hook (the mystery surrounding the murder of a teenage girl), but perhaps the true secret of its success is its characters--they engage us with their emotional realism, intrigue us with their individual complexity.  In fact, one of the strongest episodes of the season put the homicide investigation on the back burner to focus on the characters of (and relationship between) Linden and Holder as the former frantically searches for her missing son Jack.

Paradoxically, one of the show's strengths also proves to be a shortcoming.  Week after week, The Killing presents some terrific plot twists, as (in Chandleresque terms) the wavering finger of suspicion points towards another character as the killer; that figure is then exonerated just when he/she had been looking the guiltiest (e.g. Rosie Larsen's teacher Mr. Ahmed).  The problem is, such plot machinations grow less effective with each subsequent use, and when the next prime suspect emerges, the audience can't help but think this will prove another red herring.  The logistics of an ongoing series also come into play here, because it seems unlikely that the mystery of Rosie's murder will be solved at a point with several more episodes still left in the season (or with a whole second season looming, once AMC's renewal of The Killing was announced).

Speaking of the murderer...after watching the first season, I have two main suspects.  First is Gwen, Darren Richmond's campaign advisor and paramour (who maybe murdered Rosie out of jealousy).  Second is Det. Linden's fiance Rick, who flew under the radar for most of the first season after relocating to California (Callum Keith Rennie also just has the kind of face as an actor that suggests sleaziness).

One last thought: is it merely coincidence that the Larsens share the surname of the grieving family in Stewart O'Nan's similarly-themed novel Songs for the Missing (a book I'll address further in tomorrow's post)?

No comments: