This weekend brings a momentous decision: To watch, or not to watch, Season 2 of The Killing? Anyone who forged through the first season of this AMC police procedural (a remake of a Danish hit) last year is probably still fuming about the lack of answers in the final episode. For weeks, we had been watching the stubborn and slightly self-destructive Seattle detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) plod around the cityoften in the pouring rainas she attempted to solve the murder of high school student Rosie Larsen. We had glimpsed the light at the end of the tunnel: Following an ingenious bit of gumshoe work, a culprit had been arrested! Justice had been served! Detective Linden was on a plane to sunnier climes! And then, the episodes final minuteswith fiendish glee, it seemedsubverted that resolution, saddling us with questions we have now lived with for almost a year.According to The New York Times, AMCs head of original programming has promised that the whodunit will be wrapped upreally and trulyat the end of Season 2, which begins this Sunday. Of course, even if we trust his pledge, there remains the fact that The Killing has so far been a real downer of a program. Many of its elementsthe red-herring clues, the multiple suspects, the sleuth with personal problems, the law-enforcement turf battlesare detective-story standards. But has there ever been a police procedural that focused so intensely on the grief of the victims family? In Season 1, scene after scene conveyed the Larsens pain: We saw Rosies parents suffer as they planned her funeral and suffer as they debated whether to clean out her room and suffer as they fielded detectives questions. We saw Rosies younger brothers suffer, too, as their pain-deluged parents ignored them. (In one heartbreaking scene, the boys, getting their own breakfast, wondered whether they dared eat some of their dead siblings favorite breakfast cereal.)The cinematography made the saga even more depressing: Season 1 was shot in blue tones that made each image even more lugubrious than it might have been otherwise. The police headquarters, in particular, might have been dredged up from the bottom of the Slough of Despond. All in all, The Killing strays far from the escapist-puzzle mode that is the default option for the mystery genre. And yet.Yes, I admit it. I will watch Season 2. The lingering suspense from Season 1 is just too strong. But listen, AMC: Dont count on me for any Season 3.
Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.
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