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The Killing

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TV Series Review

Perhaps reflecting its dark whodunit vibe, The Killing has become one of the most puzzling shows on television. A stylish noir murder mystery (adapted from the critically acclaimed Danish series Forbrydelsen), the series has been at turns revered for its haunting atmospherics and reviled for its slow, frustrating pace. It lurked around the fringes of AMC for its first three seasons, then bolted over to Netflix for its fourth.

Now detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder are concealing a murder of their own. At the end of Season 3, Linden killed a killer in cold blood. And she and partner Holder must cover up the deed from their own co-workers, of course while investigating yet another case.

The Killing superficially resembles myriad police and forensics shows vying for eyeballs on broadcast and cable TV. But with each episode representing one day of discoveries and setbacks, its focus on solving a murder case over a whole season (or sometimes two seasons)—instead of managing one or two mysteries in the course of an hour—sets it apart. While some viewers and critics have grown impatient with the snaillike progress, there's no question it more truly mirrors the painstaking, sometimes agonizing path many police investigations must take in real life. It also compels us to grapple with the horror that murder truly is, something most crime shows can't—or don't—take the time to do.

In earlier seasons, we saw what the unexpected, tragic loss of someone can do to friends and family. Now, through the eyes of Linden and Holder, we're given yet another provocative angle: what a killing does to a killer.

TV Guide's Matt Roush said of the show, "What really stands out for me, in this age of cookie-cutter procedurals, is how The Killing dramatizes the devastation a violent death has on a family, a community, on the people involved in the investigation. Nothing about this show is routine."

In the midst of that dramatization, The Killing plumbs the depths of some pretty weighty themes, including forgiveness, grief, parenthood, ethical compromise, drug addiction and personal brokenness. But the move to Netflix from AMC didn't do anything to lessen the already prodigious amount of negative content found here. Indeed, the quotient has been ratcheted up in some respects. Despite the TV-14 rating most episodes are assigned, viewers are subjected to a battery of f- and s-words. And there are references, both visual and verbal, to (naturally) violence, sexuality and drugs.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Killing: 8-1-2014
Killing: 6-10-2012
Killing: 5-15-2011



Readability Age Range


Drama, Crime



Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden; Joel Kinnaman as Stephen Holder; Michelle Forbes as Mitch Larsen; Brent Sexton as Stanley Larsen; Evan Bird as Tom Larsen; Seth Isaac Johnson as Denny Larson; Billy Campbell as Darren Richmond; Kristen Lehman as Gwen Eaton; Eric Laden as Jamie Wright; Brendan Sexton III as Belko Royce; Jamie Anne Allman as Terry Marek; Brandon Jay McLaren as Bennet Ahmed; Callum Keith Rennie as Rick Felder; Liam James as Jack Linden; Tom Butler as Mayor Lesley Adams; Richard Harmon as Jasper Ames; Annie Corley as Regi Darnell






Record Label





Year Published


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