AMC Kills It with the Premiere of The Killing

At this point, AMC’s scripted series are so consistently great that it almost feels unnecessary to extol The Killing’s virtues. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to. Whether or not the show’s quality was a foregone conclusion, the premiere was an impressive two hours of television: The mystery was intriguing, the characters were complex, and I didn’t once feel as bored or confounded as I did during the Rubicon pilot.

I’ll be honest: I was a little hesitant going into The Killing, and that’s coming from someone who loves mysteries. Community showrunner Dan Harmon’s tweets following Sunday night’s premiere summed up my concerns well—even though I don’t agree with his comments. “AMC’s The Killing: Murder Just Got Slow,” he tweeted. He followed that with, “There must be a guy at AMC that stops you after one sentence of your pitch and says, ‘whoa whoa, save some of this for season two!’”

I don’t think The Killing was slow, but I understand what Harmon is getting at. AMC is known for its steady, deliberate pacing: A show like Mad Men is praised for it, while Rubicon was canceled arguably because it was too slow to command attention. (That was my assessment, at least. I didn’t even make it past the pilot.) A season-long mystery is tricky business, in that you have to draw it out to the finale (presumably), but still provide enough clues to keep viewers watching from week to week. Frankly, I wasn’t sure AMC was up to the task.

But hey, this is one of the rare times I’m glad the network proved me wrong. The pacing of The Killing’s first two episodes was ideal: The plot’s progression was organic, and I never once felt bored. The reveals were earned, and they didn’t come across as delayed for the sake of dragging things out. It’s going to be a while before we know who killed Rosie Larsen—and there will likely be plenty of related questions that need answering along the way—but I’m happy to be patient when there are other compelling reasons to tune in.

Mystery aside, I’m already hooked by Michelle Forbes, an under-appreciated actor who is finally getting her due. She plays Mitch Larsen, mother of the murdered girl, and she provided some of the premiere’s most gutwrenching moments. I’m glad Mitch is such an integral aspect of the show, because so far, Forbes is the standout cast member. (And yes, it’s weird that Mitch didn’t call her daughter all weekend. And yes, that makes me think she knows more than she’s letting on. Let the conspiracy theories begin!)

I’m also loving Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman, who plays the bizarre detective Stephen Holder. His interrogation techniques are seriously off-putting; I felt this way early on, and that was before he got a couple of teenage girls stoned to pump them for information. I don’t like him—that is, I wouldn’t want to work alongside him—but he’s already fascinating, and in a TV landscape filled with cookie-cutter detectives, he’s a welcome diversion from the norm. (Do you think he killed Rosie? Highly unlikely. But sure, we can throw him on the suspect list.)

I can’t actually tell if The Killing is going to be the kind of show we speculate about endlessly every Sunday night. I’m inclined to think it’s not that kind of mystery—things will fall into place by the end, but we won’t be playing “whodunit” on a weekly basis. Besides, right now I’m so smitten with the story and the characters and the atmosphere that the question of “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” isn’t on the top of my list. (But do you think it was the current mayor? It could totally be the mayor. I’m just saying.)


What did you think of the premiere?

Comments (48)
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I was lost to the killing the frist night. Have not missed one show since. Every time I think I've got it lined out I was wrong. June 5th show allowed Jack's mom see how Rose's mom felt. Being a mom myself I know what Jack's mom is going through. This show is one of the best I've ever seen.
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I haven't seen it yet but judging from comments below it must be good - I'll give it a try:)
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awful characters, especially 2 main cops. so far - BORING.
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My only comment at this time is can she please get rid of the gum!
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I really liked Michelle Forbes' character too, but I did with every character on the show. But what you say about pacing, I agree only for me it was too slow. It took me a while before I forced myself to watch hour two and though I was intrigued by the episode and definitely want to look more, I can't say it will be on a weekly basis. Perhaps a long summer afternoon where I just watch the mystery in one piece. Ironically, I just started Mad Men and can't get enough.
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Joel Kinnaman is awsome!
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I liked it. Way better than watching a murder get solved in 40minutes like every other show out there.
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Finally got around to watching it last night on my DVR, and I liked it. I especially like Holder... he's a little annoying but he seems like he can get the job done. And I love anything that Bill Campbell is in so I can't wait to see more of him.
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boring and generic
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Best new series without a doubt!!! Forbes is outstanding!!!
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Easily one of the best new shows I have watched in the past 5 years. Everything is just filled with so much depth. AMC is really impressing me lately, they consistently put on awesome shows.
Anyone who doesn't find this amazingly interesting just isn't looking for anything deep out of their shows. Not since The Wire has crime drama been THIS good.
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Just a fantastic two hours of television. May watch again before part three.
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Ok, I will go ahead and start saying that I loved it. The show is actually a remake from a danish adaptation of a swedish novel. The book was super popular in Sweden and the danish serie, which actual name was "The Crime" (Forbrydelsen), was honored and adored by the Danish people. I don't think the American public is so used to see this type of crime television series with only one crime to resolve en the whole season (though "Twin Peaks", "Damaged"), men this -so far very good- remake will for sure sorprise U.
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I didnt find it interesting. The characters are boring. The storyline is so done. Just not good enough. I'll give it one more chance but that's it...
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I cried. I can't believe I actually cried when they found her body. Great emotions, great soundtrack, I loved it.
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loved it! the characters, the acting, and the concept - keeping the focus on one murder for a whole season. it also reminded me a bit of "twin peaks", especially the synthi-soundtrack - and the whole "who killed rosie larsen" sounds a lot like " who killed laura palmer"? ;)
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I'll be the bad guy here. I don't see the hook. I don't see why this show is so interesting over any other murder mystery show. Someone mentioned Twin Peaks, and that's what I thought too...before I saw it. I wouldn't dare compare this to the style that Twin Peaks achieved. The story is somewhat run of the mill, and barring one or two people, the characters are either bland or unlikable. I feel like people only like it because 'AMC can do no wrong.' But, I'm fair. I'll give it another week, but once Game of Thrones starts, I'm out.
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Just turn up the lights, I couldn't see half the show, because it was so dark, always raining.
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not bad
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I LOVED it. Cant wait for next week. AMC has done it up just fine with this one.
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Good review, great show. I'm used to having the murder solved in a one hour TV show or a two hour movie but I'm really looking forward to a whole season of speculation, conjecture and supposition.
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I liked it, reminded me a lot of twin peaks though, hope it doesn't end as quick as that other great show
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this is solid television here. got hooked immediately, in a similar way it happened after Damages' premiere.
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A very good, descriptive review. I can fully understand that the show isn't for everyone. Some people want to see stuff happening all the time. But the nature of this show is such that it requires a slower pace. That gives room for exploring the characters and showing what they actually feel. For example the last scenes of the first episode when the Larsen parents were mourning their daughter were very moving. It is rare to see in a TV show that enough time is given for a moment like this. Sometimes a show needs to have a slower pace. Your statement " the reveals were earned, and they didn’t come across as delayed for the sake of dragging things out" is very accurate.
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I can't wait to see how this unfolds!
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I'm one of the few people who disliked the pilot episode and didn't stay put for the second episode. @harpier... When I saw the "Who killed Rosie?" banner ads online, I thought of Twin Peaks, too.
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loved it .. can't wait for next week
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LOVED the premiere! Didn't even realize it was 2 hours...It was that good. XD
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Loved it. Rick the fiancee did it is my guess. He was conveniently shown to us and then put mostly on the back burner. I have read some theories about Jasper's father, the $2000 boots, and Rosie being found dead in a the candidates car. This seems to be the most well thought out of theories I have heard. Maybe Jasper got her drugged up, daddy dearest raped her, and then tried to buy her off. Remember how she suddenly wanted to go to college out of state. Something happened to her. Being a rich guy I also think he has ties to either the Mayor or the opponent. Most likely the mayor, who used his mole in the the other candidates campaign to get a car to dispose of Rosie. A win win for the mayor. Candidate framed, and he has a rich guy in his pocket forever. The only twist to this theory being that maybe Jasper himself killed her for sleeping with his dad and daddy worked the cover up. Possibly they thought they killed her elsewhere and were going to dump the body and she woke up and tried to run away. Had to chase her into the woods, tie her up and down her. That's the best of them that I have read, but I still like Rick for the whole thing and think the rest of the cast is just a misdirection.
More+
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It was AWESOME! I couldn't stop watching it. It kept me intrigued and I usually guess the murderer, but this time, I've gotta say I'm stumped. Most shows are too contrived and easy to predict the outcome, but this show was intelligent and moving. I called my daughter.
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I don't think I've seen a character on this show I haven't liked. I honestly thought Holder was a bit of a tool in the first part but he really showed some complexity AND that he's got some undercover narco skill.
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I really enjoyed it. I am definitely going to keep watching.
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It's a shame you haven't got past Rubicon's Pilot, I advise you to continue, because after mid-season it becomes one of the best series of the year.
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for last 4 year there is no television even close to AMC
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I enjoyed the premiere quite a bit. I assumed it would be slow -- how else would you make a whole series based on ONE murder -- and because of that assumption, I actually watched the episode(s) with a little less enthusiasm. I figured it'd be good because AMC seems to always put out quality shows, but like Louis (the author of this article), Rubicon really bored me because of its pacing. I thought that might happen with this show as well, especially since I was going to sit through about 88 minutes, but despite the slow pacing, I found myself interested and engaged throughout. I've been a Brent Sexton fan since Life and Justified, and I really felt like he did a great job here. Every other character on this show seems a little odd or off-putting, and I guess that works well with slow mysteries.
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Loved this show first 2 episodes! And for sure Detective Holder is super creepy, unlikable and yet so intriguing as marked on the preview. I didn't want this episodes to end they were amazing, let's see how it develops.
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This is an awesome show. It's nice to see something that is not all car chases and formula boring tv. If AMC can do it, why not others?
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LOVED this show. We were already debating 'who did it' before the show ever ended, so I do anticipate some intense speculation as the series evolves. Love the Holder character, he's going to be very interesting to watch.
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loved it! AMC hasn't disappointed me yet... other than cancelling Rubicon.
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Rubicon was a slow-burner that paid off those who stuck with it and I for one was let down by it being cancelled. Will let this develop to see if it gets canned after a season.
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Did no one else flash back to "Twin Peaks" when they heard the show summary for "The Killing," even knowing it was based on a Danish show?
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I stopped reading this when you saind you didn't watch nothing more then the pilot of Rubicon.
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Loved it. My favorite premiere of the weekend (Compared to The Borgias, Camelot, and Chaos, 2 of which were also pretty damn good).
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Thank God! A crime drama without Law & Order or CSI in the name. Hallelujah!
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Dammit... I said I wasn't going to get attached to it in case it gets cancelled but it's too late now. This show is going to be amazing.
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It's an excellent show, but it's close to a shot for shot remake of the Danish original, so kudos to AMC for not screwing around too much with the source material.
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cool
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The Killing exceeded my expectations. It was really good. As of right now it's the best crime drama I watch.
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