There was a lot of greatness in the first two seasons of The Killing. The first season was captivating until a lackluster season finale. The second season was saved by the performances by not only the lead actors, but mainly Jamie Anne Allman, who no longer is a part of the show.
This season retains some links to make the jump a year ahead in time less jarring. Most importantly, the show decides to strip down to what worked over the first two seasons: Sarah Linden (Mirelle Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). There’s more than meets the eye with these mismatched detectives. The trope can be overplayed, yet the chemistry between the two is undeniable, and the characters’ development from previous seasons has laid excellent groundwork.
Season three begins with yet another murdered teen girl. Holder, now a responsible detective, is studying for the sergeant’s exam and takes on the grisly murder because he not only feels he always has something to prove, but because he truly wants justice. The manic Linden is no longer with the Seattle Police Department and now lives on an island and happily works for the marina. Everything is going perfectly for both of them until their lives intersect again.
Holder’s new case happens to be the case Linden was obsessed about prior to the Rosie Larsen case. The streamlined plot is set up to avoid the problems of the first two seasons. Instead of focusing on the case, the Larsen family and the political campaign, the show now will focus tightly on this specific case without throwing red herrings at us as often as they can.
While Holder believes the new murder of the teenaged hooker might have something to do with her old case, Linden reminds him that they caught the killer and he is now set to be executed in 30 days’ time. This is even more misleading considering she believes the killer to be innocent. Enter the excellent Peter Sarsgaard. He plays the convicted murderer Ray Seward, a pensive man considering what faces him a month down the road. Sarsgaard barely speaks in his opening scenes, but his presence carries every scene and his acting adds so much to the show, which relies on the characters just as much as the story.
All of that cerebral aura is tainted as he attacks the prison chaplain by bashing his skull into the cell bars. It is set up that he isn’t exactly what he is supposed to be, whatever that may be. The show does a good job of clouding exactly what we viewers are supposed to think.
Other new characters added to the mix with Ray Seward are a group of homeless teenagers who are woven into the plot with ease. There’s the androgynous Bullet, who is in love with the beautifully troubled Lyric, who is in love with the handsome and older Twitch. I know, those names. The standout is the doe-eyed Kallie (Cate Sproule); her soft nature contrasts the hardness of the entire series. Kallie actually has a mother, but is often kicked out and forced to sleep on the streets so that her mother can appease a new boyfriend. This is why the young girl ends up in the car from the beginning of the episode. While her fate remains unknown, it is certainly going to be a fatal car ride.
“The Jungle” and “That You Fear the Most” aired together as one package, and it truly helped the series’ return. There was a lot to cover because this wasn’t just a new season of a show, it was more of a reboot or spin-off. The slow pace wasn’t worrisome though; it was understandable. It was counterbalanced by Holder’s wise-cracking and his determination. It was an interesting set-up for the new season, and it’s promising so far. It’s may be best to view this as a brand-new series and give it an episode or two before the season gets traction.