The Killing - Series 1 (Part 1)

Published September 7, 2011

BBC Four are re-airing The Killing - 20 episodes of the Danish drama in its native language with subtitles. This is not the kind of thing I would normally watch. I love a good crime drama, but throw in subtitles as well and it all gets a bit tricky.

I tend to watch TV whilst I am busy doing other things, so it is difficult to keep an eye on the subtitles as they flash up. There’s only a certain kind of task you can do when you have to keep flicking your attention to another screen every few seconds.

The Killing

However, The Killing was spoken of so highly that this second chance to view it seemed too good to pass up. I’ve seen ten of the episodes, so I’m halfway through, and I’m loving it.

Although the subtitle thing is a small issue, it’s worth it. Having anything but the native language would take away from the effect of the show, and there’s something about reading to keep up that draws you into the world even further. I love the slow pacing and the very dark nature of the show - dark as in it’s always nighttime, and when it’s not, people are usually loitering in shadowy corridors or depressing rooms.

There seem to be three distinct stories - political wranglings at City Hall, the murder of Nanna Birk Larson, and how the family are coping with her death. All of them are linked together and there are no other outside influences trying to get in on the story. Except perhaps Sarah and her Swedish boyfriend. The political thing is of less interest to me, I’m just about keeping up with it but there are a lot of names thrown about. I am not much into politics anyway, so I’m just doing my best to tread water with that one.

The Birk Larson family are given plenty of airtime which I think is both a brave choice and a very well done one. It would be too easy to sweep away the family as grieving and let them get on with it. Instead, we get to see several minutes of reaction from the mother when she accidentally glimpses crime scene photos. We get to follow Theis into the bathroom to watch him break down. It’s heartwrenching, but necessary.

On the murder side of things, the story has revealed very little. We have a few suspects but we, and the detectives, are not very much further down the line of finding out who did it. Considering that we’re halfway through and practically back where we started, I would have thought this was irritating, but we’ve already been through so many twists and turns that it has always been enthralling. Plus, we’re now starting to get a hint that something bigger may be going on.

One of the key things I like about the show is that you can never quite trust any of the characters. Just as you start thinking you’ve got someone pegged, you know how they work and what they’re going to do, a new fact is revealed that throws everything on its head. You’re always on your toes, and it’s brilliant.

Two opinions I’ve managed to keep throughout include not liking Rie, the woman who keeps bossing Troels about, and quite liking Jan. I think Sarah should be a bit more accommodating towards him.

I wouldn’t be so audacious as to make a prediction about who the murderer is. Perhaps it is someone we haven’t even met yet. However, I can confidently predict that I will enjoy the next ten episodes just as much as the first.

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