Every decade or so a TV show comes along that surgically attaches ass to couch. Danish crime drama The Killing (Forbrydelsen) is one such show. It’s also one of the best TV shows ever made.
Over the course of 20 hour-long episodes, The Killing redefines the procedural crime genre, thereby ruining every other pro-forma cop show in the process. Normal procedure dictates a crime happening, investigation ensuing and resolution within 43 minutes. Conversely, over a thousand tightly packed and utterly compelling minutes The Killing unravels every element of this basic and well-worn structure (all the while skewering the concept of a neatly contained crime drama) to reveal the true costs of crime – on the victim’s family, those wrongly accused, friends, politicians, investigators, the media and anyone unfortunate enough to get ensnared in the aftermath of an unseen murder. Each episode follows roughly a day in the life of the case.
Detective Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl) is set to retire when detritus is found in a field. This leads to the discovery of a teenage girl bound in the boot of a car. Lund takes the case full throttle despite that new life in Sweden beckoning. As the case becomes more complicated Lund’s new life drifts off into the distance as she battles with prickly banana eating, no-smoking-in-the-office flouting offsider, Jan Meyer (Søren Malling). Through it all Gråbøl is as stoic as the sullen weather enveloping Copenhagen and isolating all those around her. Deliberately, it seems. She plays Lund purposely flat, falling prey to none of the usual female cop tropes – no sassy mouth, designer heels or office flings. Indeed her sensible thick sweater was the breakout star of the show when it first aired.
It’s impossible to distil where this show ends up or how it gets there but rest assured every step is nerve wracking and riveting. Tak indeed.