When AMC's The Killing debuted in March, reviews were rapturous, ratings were stellar, and viewers were instantly hooked. An intelligent crime drama with an entire season devoted to one question — who killed good-girl teenager Rosie Larsen? — promised to be more engaging than the typical detective show. But sometime during the series' first season, it became too "moody," too "scatterbrained," and, even "flat out goofy." With the season finale promising to unmask Rosie's killer this weekend, and season two just announced, many critics are debating how the promising series got off track. Here, five key complaints:
1. There are too many "red herrings"
Every good crime drama should have twists. The Killing, however, has a surplus, says John Hendel at The Atlantic. The result is "far too much hysteria over faux dilemmas." Constantly misleading audiences with dead-end clues and detours, the show's "red herrings" have become "more far-fetched" with each episode," says Ellen Gray at Philadelphia Daily News. "It's as if the writers are playing a game of 'gotcha,'" says Hendel. "Little is clever about the way the rug is pulled out from under the audience's feet."
2. It's too slow
The Killing's big selling point is that each episode represents exactly 24 hours of the investigation into Rosie Larsen's death, allowing the show to "explore all the nitty-gritty developments," says New York. But the series never found the right pacing. The shows often drag, and the slowness hasn't illuminated its characters, which is "presumably the point of taking so long to solve the case," says Nancy Franklin at The New Yorker.
3. The characters are flat
For all the talk of The Killing's commitment to character development, viewers aren't invested in its players, says Lucas High at TV Geek Army. The show treats characters "more like pawns in a game than actual human beings." Plus, there are too many to track, gripes Hendel at The Atlantic.
4. Plot lines are repeatedly dropped
Various story lines have been "flirted with, but rarely flushed out," says Hendel. Remember the political campaign that seemed so integral to the plot early on? It barely even registers as "substantial" now. The show often just "backs itself into narrative corners and then escapes by painting a new door on the wall, Bugs Bunny-style," says Matt Zoller Seitz at Salon.
5. We know nothing about Rosie Larsen
The one element of The Killing that should be driving the narrative is the tragedy of the murdered girl at its center. But "we know nothing about Rosie Larsen," says New York. She's been painted as "smartish," "a teen hooker," "a creative soul," "secretive," "a college aspirant," and "a party girl." The mismatched characterizations have made it difficult to sympathize with the character at all, says Hendel. The real question should be, "Does anyone care who killed Rosie Larsen?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- How to make classic pulled pork
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- Don't vote for Andrew Cuomo
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
Subscribe to the Week