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A&E (ended 2014)

Those Who Kill S01E01: "Pilot"


Allow me to reiterate something that I have said on this site countless times: I am not a big-time television executive, nor have I ever run a television network or been involved in the process of getting a series greenlit. So maybe I shouldn't be scratching my head over the fact that A&E ordered an adaptation of a Danish series that only aired for one season due to disappointing viewership numbers. I mean, who am I to assume I know anything about picking and choosing foreign series to bring to the U.S.? Maybe a show that never achieved the viewership it was expected to achieve is the perfect show to adapt for American audiences. 

Or maybe the Danish public was on to something, because A&E's Those Who Kill is not a very good show. It's another serial-killer drama (yup, ANOTHER one) that's more interested in gore and shock value than it is in substantial storytelling, and it's another show that thinks looking like a good drama is more important than being a good drama. Chloe Sevigny, one of Hollywood's most curious cases because of her fascinating track record of peaks and valleys (Kids, Big LoveThe Brown Bunny, Louie, Hit & Miss), plays Catherine Jensen, a Pittsburgh detective who—based on the pilot—is not very good at her job. James D'Arcy plays Thomas Schaeffer, a college professor who teaches forensics and has a spotty past as a police consultant but is really good at doing Catherine's job. Those Who Kill's series premiere established that Catherine and Thomas will team up each week to hunt down a new creep while Catherine uses her spare time to investigate the mysterious disappearance of her brother.

Those Who Kill's series premiere ALSO established that Those Who Kill deserves to be arrested for the murder of logic, because this pilot was a can of Silly String full of outlandish leaps; the producers were obviously hoping that we weren't paying attention. But I was! So here are 10 things that made the pilot one of the more ridiculous opening chapters of a new show this year.


1. Weird editing to establish "Pittsburgh" and that the cops of Those Who Kill can see each other

The pilot, particularly in the first five or so minutes, was chopped to pieces through over-editing. There were lots of establishing shots that lingered longer than they should have, as if Those Who Kill believes that its viewers have never heard of the mythical land known as "Pittsburgh." One pair of back-to-back shots let us know that murder cops had arrived at crime scene— as opposed to, I suppose, food and health inspectors. And when Catherine and her cop buddies left that crime scene a few moments later, there was a flurry of frames where they simply stared at each other, which told us nothing. Did we really need three sets of back-and-forth cuts just to see Catherine's partner drive away, or did Dodge really pay that much money for this shot?



2. The credit sequence spins a web of confusion

Those Who Kill's opening credits sequence centers on a CGI rendering of a spider eating a moth and could be an outtake from Science Channel's Monster Bug Battles. Unless Catherine's brother was maliciously killed by a Black Widow, it was BAD. 


3. Catherine, the class clown of a college she didn't even attend


We met Thomas the forensics expert (who is also a college professor because that's a legal requirement in shows like these) when Catherine dropped by unannounced to sit in on one of his lectures and what did she do? When he asked his class a question about Jeffrey Dahmer's refrigerator contents, she blurted out, "Comfort food." Keep it down yukster, some of these 20-somethings are trying to be cops! The nerve of this lady, making a mockery of higher education.


4. Thomas can trace a killer's mental trajectory, but he can't remember where he left his clothes


The "brilliant" professor couldn't keep track of his clothes, forgetting his jacket after the aforementioned class and then leaving his scarf at Catherine's apartment later in the episode. But his oft-misplaced wardrobe provided an opportunity for plot movement Catherine to sneak in some requests when she returned his stuff. First it was a case file she wanted him to look at that she snuck in his jacket pocket, then it was a picture of her family with a big arrow pointing at her stepdad, accusing him of murdering her brother. But come on, Tom, is it that hard to remember what you had on when you left the house? How would this show ever progress Thomas wasn't so irresponsible with this outerwear?


5. "How can we make this look cooler?" syndrome


When Catherine went to check out the steel mill where the dead body in her murder case had been found, her flashlight didn't work. "Ugh," she emoted. But Those Who Kill's director of photography was clapping his hands gleefully, because Catherine decided to use a glowing flare as a backup light source, soaking the frame in an eerie red glow. (In Those Who Kill's defense, it did look cool.)


6. Thomas did all the police work


It was Thomas who discovered the other bodies at the crime scene when he found a pipe with some loose screws. It was Thomas who figured out where the killer was keeping Catherine after she got nabbed. All this while not even officially on the case! What did Catherine do? She just broke all the rules in the book and got captured a few times, that's all. 


7. Thomas's cockamamie murder-psychology theories


Thomas discovered that the ID'd murder victim was targeted because she was trying to improve her life, which he did by jumping to conclusions based on minute details: She was finalizing a divorce, she owned a "Live. Love. Laugh." armoire, and she had a pile of stuff all ready to drop off at Goodwill. But the real breakthrough for Thomas came after listening to four seconds of one random song on her iPod, which allowed him to determine that her entire MP3 player was full o' motivational music. From there, he concluded that "The coffin [that the killer used to kill his victims] creates a slow, suffocating death, like his own life. He kills them because he can't improve his own life, so he won't let them improve theirs." Ummm... okay? Later, Thomas determined that Catherine was being held captive at an abandoned mental-help facility where the killer once worked as a security guard because "it's a place people were sent to try and get better." Even Catherine's boss said Thomas has a history of making logical leaps, so I know I'm not alone here!


8. Everything was working out really great for the killer


After Catherine and Thomas stopped the killer from finishing a kill, he was able to finish the job on his would-be victim by picking up a volunteer security shift (he had a day job as a security guard) at the hospital where she was being treated. How were Catherine and Thomas supposed to stop this guy when the universe was clearly conspiring to intervene and make his murdering as easy as possible, even after he F'd up? And later the killer would try to finish off Catherine by magically showing up at her front door. Maybe the Pittsburgh Police Department posts all their officers' addresses on its blog.


9. Catherine got put in a box by the killer... TWICE!


The killer in the pilot terrorized and murdered his victims by putting them in a weird coffin and letting them slowly suffocate to death (I think; that was Thomas's theory). And during the hour-long episode, he threw our hero cop Catherine into a box not once, but twice. I repeat, TWICE! The first boxing occurred when she and Thomas stopped him from murdering another victim, and the second boxing occurred when he captured her. That is not what happens to good cops, Catherine. That's like a firewoman trying to put out a fire and setting herself on fire instead. She's supposed to be helping victims, not becoming a victim herself. Maybe it's her way of really getting into the psyche of the victims (it's a trick that I call thinking inside the box)? That's the only explanation I can come up with. Also, when Catherine was in the boxes, she screamed like a little girl. Reminder: She's supposed to be the show's hero. 


10. Catherine is bad at being a bad cop

One of the main themes of Those Who Kill is that Catherine will sometimes have to be a bad person to do good. But she's not exactly sneaky about it. She blatantly breaks rules! She pulled her weapon on Thomas in a public place because she was angry that it took him too long to get her out of the box! She shot the killer when he was subdued and almost in custody! Like THAT won't come back to bite her, given that two other witnesses saw her being left alone with the killer who was very much alive at the time. Someone get Catherine the complete series DVD set of The Shield so she can see how it's done. 


There were a couple cool things with the murderer, though, and that's where this show will have its redeeming qualities. Give him credit, he was pretty good at being scary. I mean, he was responsible for these:

And when he put a smiley face on his visor, I chuckled:

And then he pushed his victim into a pit while she was duct-taped into a rolling chair, which was great (and also dangerous; do not try this at home with your own pit):


So I guess I'll be rooting for those who kill on Those Who Kill. Catherine's motto for catching bad guys is "You have to be worse than them." Unfortunately, that's also how Those Who Kill is going to stand out in the crowded field of creepy serial-killer dramas. 

What did YOU think?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/18/2014

Season 1 : Episode 10

60 Comments
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Jake the Rottweiler was awesome awesome watching Jake Vom gruberhouse beat up on Chloe Sevigny great cast to have worked with long hours in the creepy little nooks and cranies of Pittsburgh
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Very sad the show has been cancelled :-( I really liked it.
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In addition to being a bad cop, as the review aptly noted, Catherine has bad taste. What's with the black bra under a see-through white shirt? And when Thomas comes calling, she's having a drink with her shirt unbuttoned down the front to expose said bra (in case we missed it) and doesn't bother to button it up before opening the door. Oh well, maybe she was drunk. Also, they must have found the most unflattering, unfashionable hair cut in the world of television. I've seen this actress in othe roles and know she can be quite attractive! Someone is determined to make her look like a gawky dork (and behave like a spoilt brat).
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I completely disagree with you, Tim. I really enjoyed both episodes. Can't wait for more.
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this show is so bad that it's almost like a spoof of real (good) cop/serial killer dramas. and I thought Chloe Sevigny could act, but not in this show. she sounds like she's reading lines. thumbs down!
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What did I think? I think that #7 was the only valid point you made. It did break the fiction but , considering it was the first episode, it wasn't enough to give up on the show without watching the next one or two episodes to see what direction they go with it.

Well, you asked...
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I know you're supposed to wait till the 4th episode before you decide on a show, but after two, I'm tempted to give up. The writing is weak and obvious. And neither part of our "dynamic duo" is very likeable. Thomas feels like a poor man's Will Graham and Catherine is odd and cold.

The concept is interesting though, I really wish it had been better. I think it would have been better if Catherine had been "light", and "likeable" even though she was hiding this dark secret. It would have made her shooting the serial killer more shocking.
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I found the plot of episode 2 completely confusing. Had very little idea about what was going on. I usually give a show at least 3 episodes before I can it. This one lost me at 2.
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and you don't like the title sequence? really? I thought it was spot on!
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Yeah, what's up with that?

Pretty hard to take Surette seriously, when he includes the credit sequence as one of his marks against the show. Plus, as you said, it was good.
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Yea....I thought this show was amazeballs. There are not enough "get into the mind of the killer" procedurals out there that are cleverly written/shot. Wire in the Blood is the only other that springs to mind (not that it's around anymore). I am stoked to see where they take this show and it's characters.
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the only thing i found disappointing about this episode was the pace….it just didn't set itself up to really sort of lure you into the story,instead every scene change was too in your face. i love chloe's work and she does have a history of playing these intense and flawed characters rather convincingly. the premise of the show,talking about being based on the danish original,i was actually reminded a lot of the very brilliant british series "wire in the blood" if anybody remembers bbc america airing some years ago. very similar premise….female cop with a "history" working with a criminal pathologist that works at some university…..but less predictable and more intense.
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but i will add,it was merely a pilot…i'd rather much formulate a legitimate opinion after more episodes are aired. unlike this reviewer,i am not totally inclined toward instant gratification,which as we've seen so often,is why so many good shows end up being cancelled these days.
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Catherine didn't squeal like a little girl when she was put into the boxES, but when she was put into the box. No screaming from the second box, other than to let someone know, oh, you know, that she was in there. I suppose you would have waited gleefully to see if Thomas could find you in the adult game of hide and seek. What a ridiculous nitpick.

As far as the cinematography, in one episode they utilized Pittsburgh better than Low Winter Sun did Detroit in ten episodes.

You wanted to hate it going in. Mission accomplished.
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That's quite an assumption. I wanted to like it going in, yet still had to give up after the 500th cliché was crossed off halfway into the pilot (the brilliant but troubled detective herself falling into the clutches of the troubled but brilliant serial killer). The points mentioned in this article, in my view, barely scratch the surface of how utterly derivative and badly written this show felt.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Just don't yell conspiracy whenever someone's differs from yours.
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Reading this review it sounds like you were bound and determined to NOT like the show. Nit picking something like Thomas forgetting his scarf? He had other things on his mind like Catherine had just informed him that she had been locked in a box before but didn't elaborate and wasn't going to.

The audience should have known the scarf was significant in some way due to the "random" close-up.

I thought this was a damn good pilot. And yes it was heavily reliant on good cinematography but I thought it set things up in a strong way.

The Pilot did remind me a lot of "The Fall". And the way it was filmed reminded me of The Killing but that doesn't turn me away from it. I look forward to next week.
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Forgetting the scarf could be explained in the plot and was understandable, but forgetting his coat AND scarf in one episode? That's one spaced out dude...
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You've just described The Following ...
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Staff
"Someone get Catherine the complete series DVD set of The Shield so she can see how it's done."


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It may just be me, but I am getting tired of serial killer dramas in which the victims are always young, "lower" class women (prostitutes, strippers, etc) who are always in some state of undress (or no-dress) and are often raped and tortured before being killed in some gruesome way. "Those Who Kill" perfect example and really unorgiinal.
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How mature to judge a show by the pilot.
UNDER THE DOME, anyone?
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I thought its pilot was the only passable episode Under the Dome ever had. Or is that what you mean?

Anyway, judging a show by their pilot is more than fair. With dozens of original series premièring each and every month, it's hard enough to find the time to even watch all the pilots that sound interesting, let alone watch more episodes of a show that you already sank an hour in and didn't really find all that good. Sure, there are enough examples of shows with horrible pilots that turned the boat around. But producers know darn well that a bad pilot is a good way of losing a sizable part of an audience that was initially willing to give you a chance.

That's nothing to do with immaturity, and everything with a TV landscape overflowing with concepts. No one has time to give a show a season to "grow." You have to be nothing less than excellent from day one to make it.
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Couldn't disagree more. Show is not perfect but it's still very good. Will be watching after Bates Motel
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Chloes' character is a bit strange - another wounded bird. I liked the pilot and will continue to watch.
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Sorry Tim.
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The Following, The Bridge, Bates Motel and of course Hannibal are (sooooooo) much BETTEEEEEER **Eminem's voice** than this crap. Sorry A&E!
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I keep watching The Following because it's so bad it's good and I want to see how it ends, but I think that's enough. If I watched this show I think I would quickly become one of those who kill and one of those who is killed simultaneously.
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What did I think? I thought it was horrible. Shows like this piss me off because it fools dumb people into thinking they are watching something deep and gritty. The writing is just lazy as hell. I hate when they make characters stupid in order to move along the plot. I won't be watching any more episodes.
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I didn't watch, just read your review and it sounds like any episode of Castle but without Nathan Fillion or the funny one liners that pepper the show.................will be sticking to Caskett and giving this one a miss
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it was good.

you complaining about it being another serial killer drama seems awfully hypocritical, as does your claim of its apparent how can we make this look cooler syndrome as hannibal is incredibly guilty of that.
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Haven't seen this yet, but being Danish and having seen the season of the original series, if they follow the show to the letter, then do NOT watch this. Compared to other original Danish crime series like Forbrydelsen (The Killing) or Broen (The Bridge), this is really bad.
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Foreign TV shows have a tendency to get ripped apart by american production companies because they think they can take winning recipe and improve it even further, but why? It's like they're adding chocolate to bacon.
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Well, "Those who kill" is really bad i the danish version, but you are right. Having seen the episode now, the american version is even worse than the danish
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weird why they'd remake a show that only got one season in the first place
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10 things? Wow, I get a strong feeling that you don't like the show...
I can't remember the last time you made a list called "10 Things the...Is a Bad Show".
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Well, I shan't be missing not watching this one.
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It was not that bad, was it?
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No. There was nothing about the pilot that was bad enough for me not to watch another episode (unlike 'Mind Games').
The pilot was interesting enough to see how the next episode or two play out.
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this is just what happens when someone is paid to review television episodes.
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I didn't think it was bad at all. at worst it simply wasn't particularly great but certainly not bad.
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Bring Back THE KILLING please.
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Netflix will (solely) be carrying the fourth and final season of The Killing. Supposedly only six episodes, though.
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I enjoyed every minute of this new series. It is quite simply put downright wierd. But, itnis suspensfulmand leaves you wanting more! With so much crap out there everywhere it is hard to trash something this differant for a police series. Look at the problems with "helix",or"bitten",try watchimg much of what is on the cw, although they are getting better. No, this deserves better than being picked apart like this, esp with so much bad out there. Remember as frutrating as it might be for us watchimg, serial killers get away with murder after murder..many have never been found! So, lets be realistic about what we find unrealistic.
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I figure the other commenters are just easily impressionable or parrots. I thought it was solid for sure. sevigny alone is one of the best actresses on TV hands down.
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I really think there should be a quota system in place, limiting the number of shows that can be on the air at any given time about:

- Serial Killers
- Crime Scene Investigators
- Cops
- Doctors
- Lawyers
- Super Heroes
- Singing/Dancing/Whatever Competitions
- "Unscripted" hairy goofs, just doing whatever they do

There are no doubt a few other categories I can't be bothered to think of right now. Maybe then the networks/show-runners/writers would be forced to actually get CREATIVE for a change.

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Oh, man. How could you overlook vampires (in particular), werewolves and zombies/undead?
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Oops, sorry I missed that. I guess I never mentioned those shows because I NEVER WATCH THEM. It makes me forget how many there actually are. You could sort of lump them in with "Super Heroes", but not quite, so they really should have their own category. Also "UFO/Occult/Conspiracy 'Investigations'" on channels that are supposed to be about History and Science. I'm sure there are more.
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[The] Science [Channel] has been slightly more resistant to bullshit programming about mermaids and Bigfeet and "new" information about alien abductions/visitations than its mother channel, the now woeful Discovery, but I fear that it will slide down that same lamentable path given enough time. The History Channel and National Geographic -- sorry, I mean NatGeo, dude -- are all but unwatchable now.

The new incarnation of Cosmos better not be a total disappointment.

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I thought it was a dud. Boring, lame, stupid, iffy acting, etc. I wont be giving this another episode.
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I like serial killer shows, good ones
This was not good.
Catherine's best part was when she shot the killer, the rest of the time she was kinda dull. And it wasn't just her. The lazy writing makes the whole police department look silly instead of making Catherine look edgy or interesting.
The weakest part is Thomas. It looks like they were trying to do what Hannibal has done with Will Graham - a damaged genius, who can see into the killers mind. But they fail horribly, due to poor writing and acting.
None of the incidental characters are particularly defined.
The killer had some ok scenes, which were overshadowed by some very OTT scenes - they tried for disturbing and got eye rolling instead.

It may improve, due to some background of Catherine's that was revealed at the end, but I won't be sticking round to find out.
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Maybe they'll go all Dexter on us, and have her shoot the killer every week. It would tie in nicely with the show's title, and finding ways for her to get away with it each time would give the writers something to do.
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Does the serial killer make it worth the watch? So far this just seems like one of those episodes where you scream "WHY?!" onto the telly throughout the entire thing...
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Barely. He has some good scenes mixed with bad
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