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The Killing – Season 2 in Review

Good news for fans of dreary, depressing crime dramas. The third season of The Killing premieres this Sunday, June 3, on AMC. (Full disclosure: I think The Killing is, admittedly, dreary and depressing. It is also maddening, blessed with terrific actors, and well worth watching.) If you’re a fan of the strange, dynamic duo of Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos), you probably know the whole tale by now. The Killing, beset with low ratings, critical derision, and fan frustration during its second season, was left for dead at the end of season 2, and officially canceled after the last episode in June, 2012. But fate, or more accurately, Netflix, intervened, and a last minute partnership between the at-home movie rental giant and Fox Television Studios brought the show back to life, and fans have been eagerly (and maybe a tad apprehensively) awaiting the third season premiere. To help pass the hours between now and this Sunday night, here’s a guide to season 2, and some tips for what to expect in season 3.

The Killing

Sarah Linden is an awful mother.
You know how a lot of shows feature subpar parents, too consumed by their work to pay attention to their sullen, disaffected offspring? Well, The Killing takes mediocre parenthood to a new level of awful. As we’ve seen, Linden may love her son, but she’s ill equipped to handle his needs, even the most basic ones. How many days did that poor kid rot in a crappy motel without proper nutrition because Linden was off chasing murderers and ignoring him? And let’s not forget that she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital during a previous case; she couldn’t be bothered to take care of Jack then, either. She kept the poor kid from his father because…well, we’re not really sure. She was mad at him? When we last left Linden on the side of the road, she was coping with having to send her son to live with his (better) other parent. Why is this important? Because Jack (Liam James) is apparently returning for season 3. I’m assuming he’ll be a bit player – this show’s focus has always been on cases, not on intrapersonal relationships, and we know how obsessed Linden becomes with her cases, so I doubt she’s become Mother of the Year since we last saw her.


Terry Marek is a pathetic, accidental murderer.
I have to include this one, because I’m hoping Holden and Linden explore more obvious leads first this time around. I know Rosie’s English teacher and Darren Richmond’s campaign manager made easy targets, but isn’t the simplest answer usually the correct one? And what was the truth about how poor Rosie met her demise? She overheard something she shouldn’t have, causing Jamie to freak out and stick her in the trunk, for fear of ruining Richmond’s political futures. But he couldn’t bring himself to kill her. Unfortunately, Rosie’s aunt, Terry, desperate to save her relationship with a  married man who’d long since tired of her, did the deed in order to…um, get the night over with? Yeah, I’m not sure either. I know, I know – Terry didn’t know that was Rosie in the trunk, but her sister, Mitch, didn’t seem too reassured to find out that Terry hadn’t meant to kill Rosie, just some other kid who was in her way. Man, that hurt to type. Anyway, look closer to home this time, guys. 

The KillingSeattle is replete with criminals, both big and small.
For a city of four million people, an awful lot of them are engaged in criminal activities. Let’s see…we have Nicole Jackson, the tribal chief who fixed a mayoral election, hid evidence from the police, and ordered the brutal beating of our beloved Holder. Bennet Ahmed, English teacher by day and humanitarian by night, has been trying to save girls from female genital mutilation by kidnapping them. Stan Larsen and his friend Belko Royce ran a moving company on the up-and-up, but only after spending years involved in some nebulous criminal enterprise involving the mafia. Darren Richmond attempted to stay out of the seedy underbelly of Seattle politics, but by the end of the second season, we saw him meeting with Nicole Jackson and philandering creep Michael Ames, indicating that he’s willing to turn toward the dark side. Even our hero Holder is a recovering drug addict. This wealth of criminals is good news for the upcoming season. Spoilers indicate the season 3’s mystery is a bigger, broader crime than the Larsen murder, and having so many criminals (and I’m sure we’ll be meeting lots more) available at a moment’s notice means lots of twists and turns to come.


The Rosie Larsen case went on way too long.
Yes, that’s right. We’ve finally (finally!) wrapped up the Rosie Larsen case. A case that was pretty interesting in season 1, delightfully twisty and dark, became muddled and nonsensical in season 2. We all know that the writers realized their mistake, probably soon after newly-elected Mayor Darren Richmond was revealed as Rosie’s killer – and then just as quickly revealed to be innocent. But we’re in luck. The writers have promised, and I’m holding them to this, that this season’s case will be resolved within a season. Which means that Terry (who’s now in prison) and the rest of the Larsen clan won’t be gracing our screens. It’s a bit disappointing because Michelle Forbes did such a great job as Mitch, but the new case doesn’t involve them, so they won’t be around. Bravo to learning from your mistakes.

The KillingPolice work is an endless string of aborted leads.
How many suspects did we have in the first few seasons? Those two kids from the sex video (ick), Jasper Ames, Jasper’s father, Michael, Bennet Ahmed, Jamie Wright, and on and on. As The Killing demonstrates, there are no shortage of culpable individuals when working a violent criminal case. Early reports regarding season 3 indicate that this season’s crime will be bigger and broader than the Larsen case. This bodes well for a compelling season, since a whole bunch of twists and turns might actually seem believable this time around.


The best police officers have no outside commitments (i.e. families).
I know, I know – when The Killing started, Linden had a fiancé. But she neglected him, and then it turned out he’d been her psychiatrist during a previous breakdown and…ick. So off he went, and she was left with the son she couldn’t bring herself to care for. And look at poor Holder. He’s got a sister who won’t have anything to do with him and a nephew he adores but isn’t allowed to see. Aside from those few family members, neither of them appears to have any close friends (Linden has Regi, but even that relationship is complicated). What does this mean for season 3? That neither of our erstwhile detectives has anything cluttering his or her life that might distract from police work. (You totally know Linden’s going to be back on the force in no time.) This means they can fully dedicate themselves to working nonstop. With this year’s case promising to be a more involving, encompassing drama, focusing on two characters with little else to their lives aside from police work makes a lot of sense.

The KillingSpring in Seattle (okay, every season) is also tsunami season.
As someone who lives in the Seattle area, I know two things about our weather: 1. it rains a lot in this part of the country, and 2. the rain we get is a drizzle, not a monsoon. But nobody else seems to know that, Killing writers included. This means that nearly every scene on the show is wet and soggy. Though not exactly true to life, this lends the show a gritty, atmospheric quality that really works. Here’s a torrential downpour in season 3.


Linden is no longer a police officer.
When we left her at the end of season 2, Sarah Linden had quit the force and was…well, we couldn’t be sure. As we’ve previously established, Linden has little in the way of a life outside police work, yet she seemed willing to give up the one thing that gave her purpose. How does this affect season 3? Linden’s absence from the police force means that she’s going to be unbound and unfettered, as she searches for criminals on her own. This is great news for the first few episodes (she’s going to rejoin the force by the third or fourth episode, I bet) because it means Linden can be even freer with the rules and restrictions than usual. This lack of regulation should make the case compelling right from the start.

The KillingAs we can see, despite a few missteps in season 2, we’re set up well for a gripping, enjoyable third season. According to an official press release this season’s case (which will be resolved within 10 episodes!) focuses on Holder’s search for a runaway girl; his police work leads uncovers a string of murders that are somehow connected to one of Linden’s previous cases. For more, tune in to AMC Sunday, June 2 at 8/7c. Look for in-depth reviews of each episode on this site.


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