(Based on the conjoined episodes 'Pilot' and 'The Cage')
As a Twin Peaks fan, this was a hard show for me to start watching. Selling the show with the tagline: 'who killed Roise Larsen?' is definitely pushing it, and then I read the story. A young and seemingly innocent girl is murdered, as police investigate following up every lead. I felt like someone had watched Agent Cooper's escapades and thought 'we could redo this!', I wanted to send a recording to Diane about the whole thing!
Then I watched the first episode.
We are treated to the bleak opening, a young girl running through the night, crying, afraid. When a show's called 'The Killing' you know this isn't going to end well. The credits shortly follow, in such a way similar to the conventions of earlier dramas, introducing the setting where we as the audience are expected to invest a lot of our time, such as Tony's car journey through New Jersey to his house in 'The Sopranos', or the lush and ever present landscape of 'Twin Peaks'.
As for 'Twin Peaks', the comparisons stop there.
We are then introduced to the main players of the show to come, nicely flowing through each character and their environment. I worried whilst watching the pilot that the set up would be formulaic and predictable, and at first, they did seem that way.
Almost insignificant scenarios popped up in the show: a goodbye party, the introduction of the rookie cop, a couple to be wed in their own little world. It all felt a bit too clean and American at first, but then I was treated to a welcome surprise.
Towards the end of the episode, the characters felt genuine, close together and brilliantly managed, their stories intertwining rather than colliding into the main character's journey. This comes down to both the casting and the brilliant writing. Through following the detective of the show, we would see the case only as she would, a 'CSI' of mystery and clues, yet 'The Killing' falls into the greater category of writing, bringing the raw emotion of a family torn apart. This takes the show from being a simple 'whodunit?', to a more challenging character piece that's always one step ahead.
The greatest example of this comes in the form of suggested sexual activity with minors, beautifully crafted, and a genuine shock when the outcome is revealed.
It's hard, very hard trying to review something without giving loads away, but I've purposefully left out a lot of detail, a lot of character, and a mass amount of story. This show feels right, it feels dark, broody, mature, but never sacrificing the story to achieve the effect. It's a compelling story told beautifully, and my only regret is that I'm left wondering: 'is this American counterpart as good as the Danish original?'
After these two episodes, I feel that the early comparisons to 'Twin Peaks' fall short of describing 'The Killing'. It's captivating, it's almost fearless in it's approach, and you better believe I'm waiting for the next episode!