Bad shows that don’t do anything right are easy to dismiss. Good shows that are held back from greatness by doing a number of things poorly are harder to dismiss. Right now, The Killing belongs to the latter category, and it’s turning out to be a frustrating viewing experience.

There are a number of things that The Killing does well. For one, it has a phenomenal cast. Joel Kinnaman, Brent Sexton, Michelle Forbes, and Billy Campbell are all doing excellent work. Secondly, the writers have managed to craft a case that not only has a compelling investigation, but that also involves the viewer emotionally. By making us sympathize with Rosie, the writers have allowed us to become invested in finding her killer. Moreover, it’s very interesting to watch Linden and Holder working together. This episode in particular used the duo well, creating a subtle good-cop/bad-cop dynamic. Contrasting this episode with the previous one shows just how much of an asset this character pairing can be.

On the other hand, there are some things that The Killing doesn’t do well. Each installment feels like a crossover episode of 3 separate shows – a murder investigation, a political thriller, and a family drama about the Larsens – the third of which doesn’t work at all. I respect the show for trying to depict the grieving process of a bereaved family realistically, but this kind of drama lends itself poorly to the one-episode-is-one-day format. Mitch does the same damn thing in every episode – she has a tearful breakdown – and it’s starting to feel exploitative. Heck, at this stage, it could practically be a drinking game. If this is the pattern that’s to be expected for the next eight episodes, I might have to tune all this crap out. (That’s what the fast-forward button is for.)

The show needs to do a better job of integrating its various components. The political thriller needs to tie back into the murder mystery, and if the Larsens have no involvement in either, then I have no interest in watching their repetitive (albeit well-acted) breakdowns.

On the bright side, at least we have something to chew on for the next week or so. At the end of the episode, it was revealed that Richmond worked with the same youth group with which Bennet worked, so it’s possible that he knew Rosie personally. My guess is that it’s a red herring, but this early in the game, anything is possible.

I’m probably not going to continue writing about The Killing weekly. I make more or less the same complaints every time, and there are far more thoughtful write-ups about the show elsewhere. But I will continue to watch in the hope that this good show can finally achieve greatness.

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