a big fan

Netflix - the killing season 4

If you are anything like me, and, believe me, I fully understand if you hope you are not, the approach of August 1, 2014 has great meaning. On that day Netflix, the mad geniuses of the television/internet interface, will bring us the fourth season of The Killing.

The Killing was canceled twice during its first three seasons on AMC. It was revived after season two by direct subsidies from Netflix and, again, after season three by Netflix taking over all responsibility for production and distribution. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that hardcore fans of the show are wary, but not too upset, by Netflix’s statement that this season is positively the last. Maybe so, but when you have witnessed a loved one raised from the dead twice in two years, hope is hard to extinguish.

This past record of cancellations also means that not too many of you will have seen or heard of this unique cop drama. It features one of the hardest to like female leads in dramatic history. Sarah Linden, the primary character, is played by the actress (am I supposed to say actor now, even though she is a female?) Mireille Enos. Ms Enos is a brilliant player who is a living, breathing testimonial example of the vast population of really talented people nobody ever heard of who have been given their chance by the new opportunities opening up through the expansion of cable outlets and the internet channels.

Once free of the timid gatekeepers of network television and established movie studios, a new golden age of film and video drama and comedy has erupted upon society. The Killing, though it originated on one of the smaller, more progressive television networks, is a prime example of this cultural flowering.

The character of Sarah Linden is an obsessive compulsive woman who has no control over her dedication to a case once she takes the bit between her teeth. She knows she is destroying her family, she knows she needs sleep, she knows she needs a bath, she even knows it would be helpful to eat now and then, but she simply cannot get her head out a case long enough to accomplish any of that. Along the way she destroys the lives of the innocent and wrecks havoc upon an entire metropolitan area by following the wrong leads and making bad judgments. Never the less, our Sarah is not discouraged. That she is caught in a Gordian knot of red herrings, missed opportunities and wrong conclusions does not deter her. Time and again, she reacts to the detritus, debris and rubble resulting from her impulsive behavior by charging forth along a tangential line of inquiry, as if none of the destruction was anything to do with her.

Sarah Linden is the most selfish character, certainly the most selfish female character, since Lady Macbeth. She is impossible to like. On the other hand, knowing her backstory, as viewers come to know it, makes it equally impossible not to sympathize with her. No way can you like the woman, but you cannot stop yourself, and, believe me, you will try, from hoping she will find some kind of closure and peace, even if somebody has to shoot and kill her to accomplish it. Indeed, quite often, if it wouldn’t result in the final, for sure really, really will happen this time, end of the series, I frequently found myself hoping someone would do just that. If ever there was a character who needed killing, it is Sarah Linden.

But, you couldn’t off her if you had to. Like the meth, to which Sarah’s partner, Stephen Holder, played by Joel Kinnaman, is addicted, Sarah is a dependency you just can’t kick. If fact, if you have access to Netflix and you decide to watch the first three seasons of the show, and I hope you do, so another resurrection will occur after season four, be sure to clear your calendar. The term “binge watching” may have been invented for House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, but its purest application is for The Killing.


Mike Copeland

Mike Copeland

I am old enough to know better. I have a B. A. from Birmingham Southern College and a Master's in City Planning from Georgia Tech. I have worked in SC State government for over a decade leaving as the Deputy Executive Director of the State Budget and Control Board, the state's administrative agency. I have owned the Fontaine Company since 1984 and am the managing member of viscerality.com.llc a management, marketing and consulting company.

I am the author of several novels, some of which you may buy and read if you are of a mind to do so.