Seattle cops have discovered what appears to be a crime scene -- but no body. Meanwhile, a credit card found at the scene leads them to Mitch (Michelle Forbes) and Stanley (Brent Sexton) Larsen. The Larsens thought their daughter, Rosie, had been at a friend's over the weekend, but soon learn otherwise. Meanwhile, Seattle police detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is told to investigate. It's her last day on the force, before leaving with her son to join her fiance in California. Linden's inexperienced partner, Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), has just been promoted from narcotics to homicide, and she wonders whether he'll be of much help. A body is discovered at the end of the first hour -- in the truck of a car belonging to the campaign of Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), the ambitious, idealistic councilman running for mayor.
MY SAY "The Killing" starts with the simple idea that there's nothing worse than the loss of a child, except the murder of a child. For survivors, the devastation is complete, as if their psyche has been leveled by a nuclear blast. As such, grief is its own terrible character in this series, and a powerful one. In most procedurals, the victim and survivors are casually and quickly dispensed with, as if their side story is a nuisance best forgotten. But not here.
The Larsens are thrust into the heart of the narrative, even if Mitch's agony is almost unbearable to watch. Enos and Swedish actor/newcomer Kinnaman make a particularly engaging team in this shaded world: She's stoic and grim, a cop's cop with a shrouded soul. He's loose and unorthodox, or as Linden snaps, "you dress like Justin Bieber and eat pork rinds for dinner." As a setting for this kind of series with this kind of tone, Seattle is just about perfect: The greens are almost gray, and even the rain has personality. It falls with a pitiless ferocity.
BOTTOM LINE Smart new cop show that takes time to build, but will reward patience.