Let’s call “The Killing” deliberate, not slow, so as to not scare away viewers accustomed to the murder-of-the-week style of most criminal procedurals.
“CSI” this is not. It’s so much better.
“I just thought it was one of the most beautiful pieces of storytelling I had read in any genre in years,” said the show’s star, Mireille Enos. “It was so cinematic and thoughtful, and paced so slowly, which is a gift in TV.”
“The Killing” (8 p.m. Sunday, AMC; **** stars) follows with meticulous detail a Seattle police probe into the brutal murder of teen Rosie Larsen. Executive producer Veena Sud, who based her chilling whodunit on the wildly popular Danish drama “Forbrydelsen,” structured the tale so that each of the 13 episodes represents roughly one day in the investigation.
Enos says the reverential treatment gives viewers a chance—rare in many broadcast network series—to get to know the characters thoroughly.
“It’s a character piece under the umbrella of a crime drama,” she said. “And that’s so fun when … you have this compelling story that pulls these characters along. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Enos plays Det. Sarah Linden, a veteran investigator who is handed the case the day she’s supposed to leave Seattle and move with her son to California to get married. But like the drug addicts she will later interview, Sarah can’t give up the case.
She would be giving up on Rosie—and on her devastated parents, Stan (Brent Sexton) and Mitch (Michelle Forbes). So she takes her kid to a friend’s, offers excuses to her fiance and partners up with her replacement, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman). As she and Stephen dig deeper, they uncover connections to a local politician (Billy Campbell), Rosie’s schoolmates and others.
Enos’s Sarah is a deeply intelligent, introspective and dogged investigator who keeps her cards close to the vest. Sarah reveals little of what she’s thinking or feeling, but through Enos’ portrayal you know much is stirring under that surface calm. She's juggling her commitment to Rosie, to her son and fiance, and to her driving need to do what she does best.
“I think this is a person who is capable of stepping over the line into that world of addiction where she can’t walk away,” Enos said. “Sure, it’s about the case and it’s about being responsible to the dead, but it’s also about what she’s getting out of it—her own sense of making her life worth something.”
Enos, most recently seen portraying twin sisters Jodeen and Kathy Marquart on “Big Love,” is making a full life for herself. She’s married to actor Alan Ruck, who spent years on such Chicago stages as the Wisdom Bridge Theatre before playing Cameron Frye in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” They had their first child together, daughter Vesper Vivianne, in September.
Moving with her family to Vancouver just months after the baby was born to film “The Killing” has been a challenge for Enos, but she thinks it was all destined to be.
“I think the fact that it all happened at the same time isn’t an accident,” she said. “That my daughter showed up and this amazing part showed up and my life is so full, it feels like it’s all of a piece … It’s going really great.”
Enos talked more about Sarah Linden, “The Killing” and her roles on “Big Love.”
Detectives Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) discover a body in "The Killing." (AMC photo)
Give me your take on “The Killing.”
I think it is such a responsible, intriguing piece of television. Veena [Sud], the creator, is such a hugely intelligent woman. She wanted to tell the story of the death of a child. To do that with anything less than total honesty and responsibility would be so unfair to audience members who may or may not have gone through that experience. There’s such a sense of respect and reverence in the creating of this.
And the cast of characters that she’s created are so varied and so diverse. Because the structure of the show is that every [episode] is one day in the unfolding of this case, it’s like time is slowed down. The audience gets to actually know these people.
Did you try to find the original Danish show?
I did not because I didn’t want to have that wonderful performance in my mind. I felt that would be distracting for me.