AMC’s riveting murder mystery The Killing stirred up such a hornet’s nest of controversy at the end of its first year on the air that one wonders if it’s possible for it to recover during its upcoming second season. The production team of the show which wrapped its audience up in a complicated web of suspects and red herrings had the audacity to end the first season without revealing the identity of the murderer! Of course, there is nothing in the TV Mystery Rule Book that says a program must reveal the solution to its mystery before its season concludes, but it’ll be very interesting to see how many of its viewers come back to the show when new episodes begin airing Sunday, April 1, 2012 (especially since the producers have let it be known the solution won’t likely come early in the new season either).
The Killing: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Patty Jenkins et al
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 587 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 59.99
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Review Date: March 11, 2012
The Killing, like its siblings Murder One (though its plot hinged on lawyers trying the case) and Twin Peaks (without the weirdness), deals with the death of a young woman the investigation of which lasts the entire season. Murder victim Rosie Larsen is seventeen years old and is found beaten and drowned in the trunk of a stolen car belonging to the campaign of Seattle city councilman Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell) who is in the midst of a mayoral run. Assigned the case on her last day in town is lead detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) who’s also given a new recruit to the homicide squad, former narcotics officer Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). Circumstances being what they are, Linden is forced to postpone her move to California leaving her fiancé Rick (Callum Keith Rennie) frustrated as the case drags on over the course of almost two weeks. Over the course of the two week investigation (each episode basically covers one day), suspects come and go as the detectives take one step forward and two steps back as each lead to a promising suspect falls apart upon more in-depth investigation.
Each episode basically branches off into three ongoing plots: the investigation of the murder by the two detectives, the morose intensity of the family grieving over the loss of their eldest child, and the heated mayoral race which has been impacted by the dead girl. As with all good murder mysteries, there are lots of secrets about the girl which come to light and plenty of suspicious characters including school friends who weren’t always so friendly, teachers and members of the faculty who knew the girl sometimes too well, and family friends and relatives who had their own ulterior motives regarding the girl’s well being. Some of the program’s most gripping moments come when dealing with the inconsolable parents played with incomparable sensitivity and expertise by Michelle Forbes and Brent Sexton. And though the plot concerning the race for mayor may seem on the surface to be only tangentially related, the writing expertly twists the murder investigation so that it continually intrudes, sometimes in unexpected ways, into the ebb and flow of the bitterly contested mayoral election campaign.
The series’ tone is definitely dark and sullen; after the pilot, you’ll rarely see anyone crack a smile unless some dastardly deed is about to be transacted, and the weather offers no solace: mostly the gray skies and rain of a Seattle fall (the series is shot in Vancouver) which casts a definitely downbeat mood on the whole affair. And yet, with all that gloom, exceptional performances abound. Mireille Enos playing a single mom struggling to give her police job and her thirteen year-old son equal amounts of quality time earned her Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her galvanizing work as Sarah Linden. Joel Kinnaman makes an engaging partner for her, unorthodox seeming at first but a character who grows in interest with each successive episode. On the political side, Billy Campbell’s Darren Richmond must traverse a continual mine field of innuendo and political smears, and he’s aided by Kristin Lehman who plays his lover and confidante and Eric Ladin as his scheming political strategist.
Here are the thirteen episodes contained on three discs which constitute the first season of the show:
1 – Pilot
2 – The Cage
3 – El Diablo
4 – A Soundless Echo
5 – Super 8
6 – What You Have left
7 – Vengeance
8 – Stonewalled
9 – Undertow
10 – I’ll Let You Know When I Get There
11 – Missing
12 – Beau Soleil
13 – Orpheus Descending (an extended version of the finale is also available; it runs three additional minutes)
The series is framed at its widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Images are sharp and detailed, and while color has been slightly desaturated during most of the episode to emphasize the bleak story and uncompromising weather conditions, saturation levels are consistent (when there are those rare sunny days, color is appropriately but not overwhelmingly brighter and more saturated). Black levels are good but not outstanding. The Seattle flyovers, sometimes problematic on other series that use this motif between scenes, are rock solid here with no artifacts. Each episode has been divided into 12 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix mostly uses music to establish a surround presence. There are occasional and welcome ambient sounds in the rears, but they get underutilized in this rather typical TV drama series sound mix. Dialogue has been very well recorded and resides in the center channel.
There are two audio commentaries. Series creator-writer-producer Veena Sud offers her views on the pilot, full of praise for her collaborators and offering some comparisons to the American adaptation and the Danish original. Star Mireille Enos and writer-producer Nicole Yorkin commentate the extended season finale version of “Orpheus Descending.” They’re full of praise for one another and for the show’s production staff, but there isn’t anything here particularly earthshattering to make this a must-listen.
“An Autopsy of The Killing” is a 16 ¾-minute EPK fluff piece featuring creator Veena Sud basically narrating the story of the American adaptation of the Danish original. Also participating are stars Mireille Enos, Billy Campbell, Joel Kinnaman, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton, Eric Ladin, and Kristin Lehman while producers Mikkel Bondesen and Dawn Prestwich discuss the different identity of the killer from the Danish version and the fact that they hoped the audience would remain faithful to the show in season two where answers will be provided. It’s in 1080p.
There are twenty-three deleted scenes (sometimes mere seconds long) collected in a 13 ¼-minute montage which does not allow for individual scene viewing. It’s in 480i.
The season one gag reel runs 4 ¾ minutes in 480i.
The discs offer promo ads for AMC's drama series, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Burn Notice, White Collar, The Glades, and American Horror Story.
4/5 (not an average)
A stirring, gripping, completely engaging mystery series, The Killing makes a welcome addition to the slowly growing number of television series available on Blu-ray. Though viewers might not get all of the answers they’re seeking by the end of these thirteen episodes, the twisting and turning ride is more than worth the effort, and the series is one that comes with a hearty recommendation.