Things pick up almost immediately after last year’s polarizing finale. The Killing continues its one episode = one day structure from last year, again focusing on the family, political, and police issues proceeding the murder of Rosie Larsen. Fortunately, the show hits the ground running, barely taking time to reestablish the rules of Season 2. Last year took a lot of time laying out the groundwork of the show, and the benefits of having that out of the way is immediately apparent.
At the start of “Reflections,” Darren Richmond is in critical condition after being shot by Belko. Things are looking pretty grim, and it leads to some nice scenes between Jamie and Gwen, as they both come to terms with the knowledge that Darren is paralyzed from the waist down. By the end of “My Lucky Day,” we learn the truth about Richmond - and of his innocence - in a poignant and subtle scene involving Linden.
On the Larsen side of the story, things haven’t changed much. However, the absence of Mitch is notable, and it was a wise decision to keep her out of the story for a while. Her consistently somber attitude was causing the story to stagnate; it was an honest character trait (after all, how could a mother get over that?) but there’s only so much crying an audience could take. Her eventual return should lead to some interesting dynamics going forward.
The inclusion of Rosie’s backpack in “My Lucky Day” is especially creepy and adds a new bleak layer to the show. Stan’s reaction is genuine throughout, and his concern for his children feels resonant. The constant reporters don’t help the situation, either. Likewise, Belko’s suicide - and the crescendo leading up to it - is well-performed, though it sure makes the police look awful.
It’s the police investigation that makes Season 2 feel distinct from last year. Linden has gone rogue, and as the conspiracy heightens, her ability to trust diminishes. Mireille Enos kills it again, taking on the role with subtle nuance and believable actions. She seems edgier and more run-down - an appropriate response after the nightmare the case has become.
Linden’s interactions with her son, Jack are especially well done, made all the more dynamic after last year’s excellent episode, “Missing.” I loved the scene with Linden buying Jack chips from the vending machine, while off-handedly mentioning that she loves him. It was a great scene, and Linden’s odd but genuine interactions with Jack only make her more interesting.
Holder, on the other hand, is intentionally made unlikeable throughout “Reflections,” as he conspires with a senior member of the narcotics division to earn his badge. The conspiracy thickens until the reversal in “My Lucky Day.” We learn that Holder’s been duped into this, and his attempt to reconcile with Linden was well done. I love that she didn’t open the door.
There are other big changes, too, as Linden’s boss, Lt. Oakes retires (presumably forced out), replaced by new-comer, Lt. Carlson. It should be interesting to see how that plays out.
Overall, the two-hour premiere is a great setup to Season 2. I doubt the outraged fans from last year’s finale will be won over by tonight’s implicit conspiracy-driven formula that drove them away in the first place. But then again, fans looking for explicit answers as soon as possible picked the wrong show. The Killing has evolved into a conspiracy story and there’s no going back.
What did you think? As always, let me know your thoughts.