New season of “The Killing”

Okay, The Killing, I’m watching you; please don’t break my heart again.

With three episodes of season 3 now aired (the most recent, “Seventeen”), I may be falling in love again. At least, those elements of the show that I liked from the beginning, the relaxed pace, the absence of the by-the-numbers plotting of most procedurals and the everything-wrapped-up by the end 0f 40 minutes format (usually after a montage of crime scene investigation magic set to a fast-paced popular song), and, the extended attention to the Pacific Northwest landscape, and, goddammit, the rain, rain, rain, which I have loved, because it sets the show apart from every other television show on the air (especially those filmed in southern California); those elements all seem to be back. The Killing is visually interesting and stylish, particularly in its visual rendering of the urban and natural landscapes of its setting. Very few American television shows are as consistently attentive to striking visual compositions as The Killing, and very few television shows are as attentive to capturing the specific natural elements of a particular place (in part, because so few television shows are actually shot on a location that is anywhere close to their fictional settings).

And I love Linden and Holder, especially when they are together. They haven’t been together that much early on, with Linden officially off the force (through the first two episodes), and Holder with a new partner. We get the sense, though, that they are moving toward one another as the investigation moves forward.

I even liked the unresolved cliffhanger at the end of season one. I was genuinely surprised by that, and it’s a rare television show that does something that is authentically surprising (because, when they do, instead of being pleased that a show has done something unexpected, audiences instead whine, complain, demand closure, swear to never watch the show again, launch letter writing campaigns, etc.).

What I did not like was season two, when the series veered into Native American stereotypes (and also repeated the same old problem of casting non-natives to play native characters), and especially when they decided to explain Linden’s dedication to solving the crime to pat and clichéd psychological reasons (you see, this time, it’s personal). The ridiculous resolution to the mystery didn’t help.

I hope they can avoid those issues this time around.

They also seem to have dropped the political angle. That has always been (and continues to be through its third season) a central element of the Danish series on which The Killing is based. However, I’m not sure how well that played out in the American context, and the focus instead on Seattle street kids seems, thus far, to be more interesting than having a group of politicians as potential suspects/victims. Actually, with the street kids, the series reminds me of DaVinci’s Inquest, the Canadian series set in Vancouver (perhaps in part because The Killing is shot in Vancouver and probably shares some of DaVinci’s shooting locations).

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