Returning for a 10-episode third season, AMC’s The Killing appears to have paused, evaluated and recalculated as efficiently as its lead character – the relentless Detective Sarah Linden. Where the first two seasons had a tendency to drag and twist unnecessarily, the third is calmer, more emotional and – for the most part – more settled in its approach to tension. No more coincidental mafia subplots here.
It follows Linden’s return to the police force after her attempt at a normal life. The feature-length opening episode reunites her with Joel Kinnaman’s streetwise Detective Holder and the pair are back on track. Utterly unwavering in their pursuit of a serial killer who targets young homeless girls, Linden and Holder’s development is subtle and, frankly, brilliant throughout a series which tends to struggle with balance and pace.
Mireille Enos’ performance as Linden is, once more, a master class in silent struggles. Still tormented, still intense and very much still smoking, Linden is almost certainly one of the toughest characters around. Kinnaman and Enos – having both since made big splashes on the big screen – are back to business as usual, but Season 3 has a trick up its sleeve: Peter Sarsgaard (An Education, Jarhead) starring as an inmate on death row. Spending 99 per cent of his screen time in a cell, Sarsgaard evokes a condemned, torturous likability and his journey and performance are the highlights of a dark and emotive season.
With the addition of Sarsgaard and relative newcomer Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow) as Bullet, both providing standout performances – and the reigning in of the more impulsive, short-lived twists that Season 1 and 2 offered – Season 3 is the US remake as it was meant to be: dark, rainy and bloody. The gritty subject matter, the subtle acting and the excellent visuals make for a truly bleak 10 episodes. Concluding with a second feature-length episode, The Killing provides a truly shattering final move that will have everyone grinding their teeth in anticipation for Season 4 (now available on Netflix UK).
The Killing – like its characters – is imperfect and unpredictable, and that’s not always a good thing. On the one hand, it’s a few episodes too long for certain story arcs and not entirely watertight. It’s brutal and it’s upsetting – for audience and characters alike – and everything is perpetually grey. On the other hand, the people are brought to life so well. They are likeable and flawed and constantly fighting. So, before you skip the show altogether, pause, evaluate and recalculate – because while it may come after the Danish original, Season 3 proves The US Killing is always one step ahead.
Photo Credit: Carole Segal/AMC