After initially being cancelled at the conclusion of season two, AMC brought The Killing back for a third season last year. The Killing‘s first two runs, each spanned a single murder case and its effect on the victim’s family and community. The third season, now out as a three-disc DVD set, The Killing: The Complete Third Season, follows a string of serial killings, keeping the focus more on the detectives working the case, with fewer side characters than either of the first two seasons.
At first, it’s a bit startling to get into The Killing‘s third outing. Many of the characters regular viewers have come to know quite well, such as Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), Mitch Larsen (Michelle Forbes), Stan Larsen (Brent Sexton), Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman), and more are gone. This shrinks the world considerably, and I do find myself wondering from time to time, what are they up to? A mention here or there perhaps (which barely happens for a couple of characters) isn’t enough, and no one from the first case returns.
However, the linchpins of The Killing are and always have been Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). Although the investigation plot explores other avenues, the narrative always returns to the pair of detectives and how they handle the pressures of the case. Both are back, and while Linden is not working for law enforcement when year three begins, it doesn’t take long for the duo to return to form, chemistry intact.
Which is not to say there’s no one else in the mix this time around. A convicted killer on Death Row, Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard, Jarhead), someone Linden had put away, figures prominently when the bodies piling up cast doubt on his guilt. A tough orphan living on the streets named Bullet (Bex Taylor-Klaus, Arrow) tugs our heart strings as we see the depressing world she and her friends inhabit.
The Complete Third Season feels tighter, which it has to be, by necessity. I am one of the few who didn’t get angry when Rosie Larsen’s murderer wasn’t brought to justice in the first season, thinking The Killing brilliant for bucking expectations. In season three, the story is just as good and the mystery equally compelling, but the writers bend to the will of the people by neatly resolving the plot at the conclusion of the twelve installments. This speeds up the pacing a bit, which should satisfy those ‘fans’ who drifted away.
I like the way in which season three reaches into the backgrounds of the characters, Linden in particular. Even though the case at hand is new, it brings up things referenced in the first two years, and events that happened before the series begins. This gives the arcs a sense of continuity, and allows the show to draw a bigger picture than a simple, self-contained season would produce.
If you’re hesitant to jump in, knowing AMC canceled the show again after viewer numbers stayed low for the revival, know that Netflix ordered an additional six episodes, available now, so that The Killing can complete its tale and end on its own terms. What that means is we now have a complete, four-season saga to enjoy.
Unfortunately, there are no extras at all included on this disc. I don’t understand why the studio would choose to forgo bonus features, other than to possibly save money, and this is in line with other recent Fox DVD releases. But it’s highly disappointing, all the same, as the story of the show’s resurrection should have been told, at the bare minimum.
The Killing – The Complete Third Season is available now.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00KHA99BY,B004X1VUNI]