That’s what you’d better have if you’re thinking of watching the series The Killing, now streaming on Netflix. I just did, and am offering you fair warning: It’s utter dreck. In fact, it’s so bad that it’s actually kind of fun to discuss the impossibility of a fully coherent resolution of the story given the innumerable red herrings that have been dragged through the plot of this POS. For what follows, I offer a half-hearted SPOILER ALERT–half-hearted, because I’d never actually recommend that anyone reading this should watch if you haven’t already. So with that in mind, here goes….
Scarcely a week ago in casual conversation I offered up the idea that all fictional detectives are some combination of Sherlock Holmes and Mike Hammer: keen observer and deep thinker vs. dispenser of rough justice. One of my favorites, Harry Bosch, is pretty much right in the middle. But the ineffectual idiots conducting the investigation in The Killing inhabit another dimension entirely. They are neither logical nor systematic nor rough. They are, quite simply, terrible at their jobs.
Consider this: The crime under investigation is the death of a Seattle high-school girl who’s been drowned by being bound and trapped in the trunk of a car driven into a pond over 50 miles from the city. The very first question that you, I, or anybody else with an IQ above room temperature would ask is: How did the killer get away from the crime scene? There are only two basic possibilities: He (or she) got a ride from somebody else or else the car in the pond was driven by the victim and the killer followed her to the crime scene. Care to guess which of these alternatives was investigated by the crack team of Linden and Holder? Neither. That’s right–viewers are expected to give a shit about the exploits of two cops who don’t seem to understand that–although they don’t know for sure whether the victim knew her killer beforehand–there has to be at least an accessory after the fact, if not an accomplice. Instead, our intrepid pair of dunces follows a trail laughably full of dead ends and red herrings under the assumption that the killer knew the victim well and acted alone.
I’d have to write a 10,000-word post to catalog every stupid and arbitrary plot twist and sloppy inference by the cops, but one in particular stands out to me and doesn’t seem to have been noted in other discussions of this inane show. We discover that a principal figure is a weirdo who goes by the name “Orpheus,” and who seems to get his kicks by reenacting near-drowning episodes with teen hookers. This makes him so obvious a suspect to the entire SPD that one of the investigators manufactures the essential bit of incriminating evidence via Photoshop. But nobody–I mean, not one single person in the entire police force–asks the following question: If Orpheus gets off on watching young girls struggle against drowning, why did he drown the murder victim by tying her up, locking her in the trunk of a sedan, and driving the sedan into a pond? Because, you see, he doesn’t actually get to see any part of her struggle against drowning that way. Why wouldn’t this perv actually, um, hold her underwater with his own hands? Cuz that way, y’know, he’d have had a car to drive home in.
But there’s more. You see, we find out in the final episode that the killer didn’t actually drive the victim to the pond where she drowned. Instead, she escaped from his car when he stopped for gas, and she ran into the wilderness behind the gas station. She inadvertently led her pursuer to the pond where she was drowned. Her pursuer, we learn, had just filled up his car’s gas tank. Why the fuck would he do that if his plan was to drive the car into a nearby pond? And yet, not one of these questions even occurs to our brilliant pair of investigators or to their boss–the chief of detectives in a major US city– even though either of them casts major doubt on the theory that “Orpheus” is the killer.
As far as I can recall (and I’ll admit that my attention would wander at times, so I may have missed this part), another thing the cops failed to do was try to lift any fingerprints from the car–even though techniques for obtaining prints from wet surfaces have been around for several years. Fingerprints would seem kind of useful in figuring out who drove the car, I’d imagine. But apparently Seattle’s finest are a few years behind the times, even though the police in a place as wet as that would seem to have a keen interest in wet-environment investigatory techniques.
In an interview with noted tv critic Alan Sepinwall, the creative genius behind this pathetic show notes with apparent pride that the investigation isn’t wrapped up tidily “in a bow”. She somehow believes that this makes her show realistic. But the true reality is that any cops who were as incompetent as Detectives Linden and Holder would have been busted down to traffic duty by now.
I mean, just look at these cretins.