‘The Killing’: Series 2 preview

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For British TV viewers, it must have felt like an aeon waiting for the return of cult hero Detective Inspector Sarah Lund. Well, the wait is nearly over, as Soren Sveistrup’s Danish hit crime thriller Forbrydelsen is back on BBC Four later this month.

This week’s BAFTA preview screeningin London, complete with interview and Q&A session with star Sofie Grabol and senior producer Piv Bernth, saw the various plot strands of this ten-episode (slimmed down from the first twenty-episode run) series laid out alongside an intriguing look into the team’s creative process and interesting trivia.

Forbrydelsen (apparently, its Danish translation is The Crime, but somehow became The Killing for UK viewers) finished its first series on a monumental downer. As Grabol herself put it, every character ended up ‘wounded’ in some way, not least her obsessive cop Lund, who was left with no career, another failed would-be marriage and her son opting to leave home rather than put up with her neglect any longer.

Now at her lowest ebb, demoted to a McNulty-esque low-grade harbour patrol officer bumbling along in obscurity, Lund begins the second series about as far away from her old life as possible.

The titular killing this time round comes in the form of a murdered wife reported in a harrowing phone call to emergency services by her husband. Her torturous, seemingly ritualistic end had been filmed by her killer, who may or may not be said husband.

Morten Suurballe returns as mysterious police chief, Lennart Brix, who sees fit to call in the previously shamed Lund so she can offer her advice and expertise. Despite Lund’s reluctance to get involved after her last personally disastrous investigation, needless to say, in true cop show style, she soon gets hooked, thanks, amusingly, to a cellophane cassette tape wrapper.

Sveistrup’s more convoluted script has wider ambitions than his first. Forbrydelsen covered local political intrigue, corruption and family values. This time, Lund enters the world of national politics, Islamic terrorism and the military as she starts to unravel a complex, perhaps more intense (or at least the creators said so!) plot that sees her at her least powerful coming to blows with those that are most powerful.

This first episode is fast-moving, with many suspects and interactions introduced, including the newly-appointed Justice Minister, a former soldier jailed for an undisclosed crime and his old colleague who is mixed up with something big.

As with the first season, all the essential elements of this televisual alchemy are present and correct. Lund, in her subtly neurotic way, is as compelling as ever, as is the grisly fateof the investigation’s victim.

Unlike a less skilfully written show, this first episode’s ambiguity and complexity again makes the viewer urgently need to see the next episode to work out its riddles. Of course, as a Grazia journalist’s groan-prompting question about Lund’s trademark Faroese jumpers reflected, those well-worn jumpers make a return: something Grabol apparently hates, though has to begrudgingly accept!

There is more of a ‘Hollywood’ feel to proceedings, with some glossy thriller staples thrown in and the shorter length might imply a slight dumbing down, though Grabol went to lengths to explain that she was very reluctant to sign up for a second or third series before reading a script good enough to commit to. Somewhat encouraging then, particularly as this first episode showed no sign of selling out.

The somewhat sycophantic, though interesting, Q&A with Grabol and Bernth revealed that the team is currently filming a third series (this second series premiered in Denmark in 2009, with its phenomenal success evident in its finale gaining a 70% audience share).

Sveistrup’s writing style involves putting together the next episode’s script as the previous one is being filmed. So, this means the show is filmed in chronological order, something very rare for TV.

With the second series looking promising, the scene is set for more of the acclaimed adventures of Lund (no longer Detective Inspector as that position’s been abolished) in Copenhagen’s bleak, perma-grey-skied environs.

With everything pointing to more of the same high watermark of quality, the night’s only real surprise was that ‘killing’ in Danish translates as ‘kitten’. So now you know.

Series 2 will air on Saturday nights from 19th November on BBC Four.

> Buy the Series 2 boxset on Amazon.

Are you looking forward to Series 2? Let us know below…