This is my review of The Killing – Series 1 and 2 [DVD].
These thirty hours of riveting film cover two exciting, pacy thrillers, with each episode ending on a cliffhanger which lures you straight on the next one.
It is easy to grasp the appeal of detective Sarah Lund, obsessively focused 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 any feminine wiles to achieve her ends. 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.
What sets the series apart is the gradual revelation of the main characters' personalities, and the development of their relationships. The best example of this for me was grieving of the couple who lose their teenage daughter in Series 1, as they move very convincingly through the various stages of stunned disbelief, anger and desire for revenge, sometimes blaming each other to the point of estrangement.
In both series, the murders soon develop a political angle. The political shenanigans are hugely entertaining in their own right. If Danish politics can be portrayed as so corrupt and devious, what hope for the rest of us?
My main reservations, which do not seem widely shared, are that Series 2, with "only" ten episodes is too condensed, which can make it hard to keep track of all the plot twists and leaves too little time for the in depth emotional development we see in Series 1. Perhaps the producers needed to take more account of the needs of viewers trying to read subtitles alongside observing every fine detail.
Although I admire the level of depth that leaves everyone damaged in some way by events and some questions unanswered, I think there are too many flaws – 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).
The nagging loose ends 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. Also, of course, the slight sense of "let down" at the end of Series 2 may be withdrawal symptoms after all that excitement. At least there is Series 3 to anticipate!