For most viewers, last season of “The Killing” ended on an incredibly disappointing and rage-inducing note. I consider myself to be in that group, as the ending provided no answer to the question “The Killing” had been asking since episode one: “Who Killed Rosie Larson?” We thought we knew, but at the last minute show-runner Veena Sud managed to spoil that for us and turn Holder (Joel Kinnaman, easily the show’s best character) into a potential villain. Well I’m here to tell you that if you decided not to come back for season 2 (as many people did – the ratings for this season’s premiere were down 33%) you may be making a mistake.
Parts I and II of this season kicked off quite nicely, dispelling the idea of Holder as a villain pretty early on. This was maybe the most critical point “The Killing” needed to make in order to keep my attention. After learning so much about Holder last season and coming to love him as a character, it would have ruined him completely had they taken that all away and turned him into a villain. Instead, Holder is shown to be working for some higher authority within the police department. Though he knew the photo was doctored, he firmly believed that mayoral candidate Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) had killed Rosie. What we discovered in Sunday’s two-part premiere was that Holder is more-or-less a pawn in a much larger conspiracy that he wasn’t even aware of. And when he does become aware of this conspiracy he goes to the only person he knows he can trust: Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos).
Much like last season, the acting is what stands out most in this season’s premiere. Enos is just as powerful as she was last season, playing the part of the closed-book incredibly well. We never truly know what she is thinking, but even with little dialogue Enos is able to emote and express the pain that this investigation has caused her. Kinnaman, on the other hand, is the highlight of the show. He plays the creepy, naïve, Holder perfectly. Every time he leaves the screen we want him to come back so we can learn more about him. What was refreshing about this season’s premiere was the development of Richmond’s aides Jamie (Eric Ladin) and Gwen (Kristin Lehman). These characters weren’t nearly as well-developed as the two leads, and the premiere allowed us to learn more about them and actually become interested in where their stories might lead. Their interaction at the hospital was one of the stronger points of the episode.
The dreary mood and deliberately slow pace are both back, which I don’t take any issue with because they’re contributing factors to the success of the show. The rainy Seattle days are a perfect backdrop for a story about a murdered teenage girl and the lives of the people affected by her death. The latter half of season one did feel a little too slow at times, and the use of multiple red herrings grew tiresome. Thankfully the two-part premiere kept things fresh and just when you thought things were pretty quiet, Belko (Brendan Sexton III) breaks loose, steals a gun, and kills himself in the police station. The slow pace of the show makes moments like these even more effective, and hopefully we have more of them in the episodes to come.
All in all “The Killing” premiere was effective in a number of ways. It immediately got me back into the show, revealing Holder’s true intentions in a very believable manner. It also furthered the investigation in a way that felt maybe a little clichéd, but still made sense, and raised more questions to be answered in upcoming episodes. “The Killing” is definitely worth returning to especially if you invested the time to watch all of season one.