This is my review of The Killing: The Complete Season 2 [DVD] .
A latecomer to this series, I soon grasped the appeal of Sarah Lund, obsessively bent on solving the puzzle of brutal murders at the cost of her personal life, and wonderfully liberated in true Scandinavian style from any concerns about her appearance, or need to use feminine wiles to get her way. In typical small touches of humour, she knocks cartons of coffee over her colleague's desk, or misinterprets her mother's horror as she thoughtlessly waves around graphic photos of murder victims during one of the phone calls that always seem too urgent to be left to a more suitable time.
The series continues to stand apart by working on several levels and being more than just an exciting, tense, and pacy thriller. This is partly through the importance attached to developing the complex personalities and realistic, shifting relationships. Here we have the focus on the disturbed soldier Raben, who may have been incarcerated in a mental asylum to prevent his revealing the politically inconvenient facts of an atrocity against civilians in Afghanistan. His attempts to keep in contact with his wife and child, the strains on her in trying to remain true to him and the ambiguous role of her father, also in the military, all make for moving drama.
We have the usual political shenanigans, at times now bordering on farce. If Denmark has so much corruption and duplicity in high places, what hope for the rest of us? There is huge entertainment value in the continually grazing, "I've had enough sweets so I'll eat a pear", ball-bouncing, new Minister Buch, who is cleverer than he looks, but may not be a match for more ruthless operators.
If Series 2 suffers in comparison with its forerunner, it is because, being half the length but if anything more complicated, it is too condensed. This makes it hard to follow some of the labrynthine plot twists delivered very fast in short, rapidly changing scenes. Some of the emotional intensity also gets lost in this quickfire approach. Perhaps the producers needed to take more account of the needs of viewers trying to read subtitles alongside observing every fine detail.
A story in which everyone is damaged in some way by events and some points are left unresolved may be marks of a great drama. But this does not excuse flaws in the plot – such as why a trained assassin would shoot someone several times in the torso, rather than once in the head? (Need to avoid spoilers precludes other better examples).
Perhaps it is too much to expect even "The Killing" to avoid the pitfalls of such a complicated plot with so many red herrings that the viewer is left with too many frustrated, "But why and what about?" questions at the end. This may be the "downside" of the author writing one step ahead of the filming, the plus side being the vitality and spontaneity of many scenes.