The Killing, Season 3: Episode 3 – “Seventeen”
Directed by Kari Skogland
Written by Eliza Clark
Airs Sunday nights at 9 on AMC
AMC’s current original lineup is incredibly diverse in tone. There’s the action-first approach of The Walking Dead and the slow, methodical movement of shows like Mad Men and The Killing (Hell on Wheels and Breaking Bad are somewhere between those two extremes, a little closer to The Walking Dead‘s pace). When pace is purposeful and established, it’s hard to criticize it on any grounds other than personal taste. So, when people talk about The Killing being boring, I’m inclined to say they’re reacting based off their personal expectations as TV viewers and are not basing that criticism on anything substantial that has to do with the quality of the show itself. And to reiterate: The Killing is a quality show – one that doesn’t have aspirations higher than what it achieves.
That said, when viewers or critics take issue with specific things – mainly narrative decisions – The Killing doesn’t just get a pass. I expressed my concerns going forward with this season regarding the C-narrative of the homeless kids in West Seattle. Of all the material in the premiere, that was the weakest and the one that opened itself up to tricky conversations like treatment of female characters (one of the girls is raped). Rather than build upon those concerns, “Seventeen” anticipated them in some way. Bullet, the seemingly main character in this plot strand, hid mostly behind a tough facade. There were hints of areas for development, such as her young love for one of the other girls, Lyric. But she was mostly two-dimensional. Not much of that is different in “Seventeen,” but the episode gave some worthwhile material to Lyric, who comes back to her boyfriend’s place after “working” and gets a moment to talk at him while he’s sleeping. She wants to follow him to LA to chase a dream out of Seattle even if she doesn’t truly think things are going to work out. Establishing motivations for characters is integral to our understanding of them, and in a matter of seconds, I feel like I get Lyric as a person even if I completely abhor her attitude toward and the ways in which she intends to achieve her goals.
Both The Killing and Forbrydelsen, the Danish show it’s based on, have usually shied away from focusing much on the relationship between the two detectives. That’s not to say that there needs to be any kind of romantic thing going on there – on the contrary, Linden and Holder work fantastic on the platonic level – but it’s always felt like an untapped section of the writing. Season 1-2 Holder and his Danish counterpart had their own stories going on involving the sister character, but most of the interaction between them and the Sara characters dealt with the cases they were investigating. So, more than just the occasional comment that says something about how one of these detectives feels about the other, I’m hoping we get meaty scenes throughout the season that addresses Linden and Holder’s relationship. Because Linden quit and came off as a walking, talking contradiction to Holder last week, there’s plenty of material there to work with.
Getting back to that crawling pace, “Seventeen” doesn’t do much to push the investigation along. The bodies are taken back for identification purposes and one of the DVDs that are taken from a local pimp has our missing girl in it. This, though, is surely just the first of several red herrings that will lead us in the direction of figuring out how Peter Sarsgaard’s Ray Seward fits into this mess. Roll along.