She’s Got the Look: BBC4’s Forbrydelsen / The Killing Series 2

The first two episodes of Forbrydelsen / The Killing Series 2 have finally aired on BBC4. Anticipation had been building over the past week (Sarah Lund on the cover of The Radio Times!), and as I took up my position on the sofa at 8.58pm (complete with patterned Lund tribute jumper), I was practically beside myself with excitement.

Oh! What a wonderfully tense opening! Ah! The dulcet tones of that Neptun soundtrack! Ooh! It’s so good to see you, Sarah, and to hear your funky Danish again!

Series 2 opens a couple of years after the end of the traumatic Nanna Birk Larsen case. Lund has been demoted to an administrative job checking papers in the back of beyond -a mind-numbing exile that makes no use of her exceptional investigative skills. But following the bizarre murder of lawyer Anne Dragsholm, she is recalled to Copenhagen by former boss Lennart Brix, swaps her unflattering POLITI uniform for her traditional chunky-knit jumper, and resumes her rightful role as a police detective (‘this is what I do best’). 

In keeping with The Killing’s status as a police procedural, there’s a continued focus on Lund’s interaction (or non-interaction) with the rest of the investigative team. The wonderfully-monikered Ulrik Strange appears to be the new Meyer (I’m still devastated by the way that partnership turned out), and then there’s Lund’s granite-faced boss Brix, who played a rather ambiguous role in Series 1 (and who is one of the few characters apart from Sarah’s family returning for Series 2). We’re also re-entering the murky world of Danish politics. The (rather endearing) new Justice Minister Thomas Buch is in the midst of complex cross-party negotiations on the introduction of new anti-terrorism laws, and in another plot strand, we see Raben, a former soldier, hoping to be reunited with his wife and young son following his discharge from a psychiatric unit. The connections between the murder and the worlds of high politics and the military are soon, of course, to become the subject of Lund’s sustained investigative interest. 

Sarah Lund and Ulrik Strange (has anyone told him about Meyer?)

What I  particularly enjoyed in these opening episodes was seeing Lund back in her natural habitat – the crime scene. Initially unsure of herself and her abilities following her enforced absence, we see her gradually grow in confidence and take ownership of the investigation. And what’s striking throughout the two episodes is the repeated close-up shots of Lund simply looking, her gaze sweeping across a crime scene, suspect’s house or military office, and continually processing and storing information. As I noted in an earlier post, The Killing frequently references a trope associated with hard-boiled crime fiction – the ‘power of the investigative eye’. It’s all about ‘the look': looking / seeing / thinking / making links and arriving at an understanding of the complex truth of the crime. Lund looks for and sees things in a way no one else does (be it a bit of cellophane, an ornament, items of furniture, a corpse or a photograph). I absolutely love this focus on the process of detection and on Lund’s intelligence. As ever, it’s a pleasure to see a supremely skilled policewoman on our screens.

So that’s it – the sofa’s now booked every Saturday at 9.00 for the next few weeks (with apologies to the footballing fans in the family). Can’t wait to see more!

Further links

The first two episodes are available on BBC iPlayer for a limited time.

Vicky Frost’s excellent episode-by-episode blog of The Killing returns. Her posts discuss each installment in minute detail and so inevitably contain spoilers. You have been warned!

Guardian Q&A with Sophie Gråbøl.

A short Radio Times piece on translating and subtitling The Killing 2 - with a focus on the particular difficulties presented by expletives. I do hope they haven’t toned down the language too much, given the progamme’s gritty style.

Radio Times: knit your own Sarah Lund jumper.

Radio Times: TV’s top women cops

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15 Responses to She’s Got the Look: BBC4’s Forbrydelsen / The Killing Series 2

  1. A very thoughtful and well-written review! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks, Margot – it’s lovely to have some quality crime programming back on our screens. The action plays in November, so it feels perfect to be viewing it now.

  2. KalpanaS says:

    Must say I was a lickle bit disappointed by the second of the two episodes- fell asleep [must have been a long day!].
    I remember being gripped from the very get-go by the first series.
    I do miss THAT sweater – the red one isn’t quite the same.

    Well, hopefully I will get into this series as it goes along – the review you’ve written points out some good bits that I might have missed, such as ‘the look’!

    • Mrs P. says:

      Thanks, KalpanaS. I know exactly what you mean about the first episodes of series 1. I felt completely gripped by the end of those two hours and as if I’d been through the emotional wringer in a way that I didn’t quite last night. But to be honest, I didn’t expect the same visceral reaction, as I think it would have been nigh on impossible to replicate the narrative and emotional punch of those very first episodes – they were perfection. The first series also had the advantage of being new and completely surpassing any expectations we might have had of a low-budget Danish crime series, whereas this time round, expectations are sky-high. My main feeling yesterday was pleasure at seeing a beloved friend again (and apparently Sarah’s red sweater does get swapped out for THAT sweater fairly soon). I felt a good involvement in the Buch and Raben stories too – lots of potential there.

      • KalpanaS says:

        Yes- the mojo is back! Watched only the second of the two last night- definitely an improvement – the pace, That look, The Return of the Sweater [like a comfort blanket for kitten viewers] , the chubby politician eating a choccie bar [nice contrast to the Thin Man in series 1 - caesar said never trust them...the lean, mean ones...], the plot thickens…although the barbeque in the car park seemed a homage to Hannibal Lecter ‘Manhunter’ [Micheal Mann]…..will catch up tonite with the episode i missed.

      • Mrs P. says:

        Yes, I agree – it’s definitely getting into its stride. I could hardly breath by the end of episode 4! Hope you enjoy.

  3. Pingback: AT LAST! Start date of The Killing 2 confirmed by BBC | Mrs. Peabody Investigates

  4. Pingback: The Killing Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2 « It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

  5. Pingback: The Killing Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2 « It's a crime! (Or a mystery…)

  6. Thanks for a great summing up. It’s worth watching just for “the look”! :O)

  7. Norma Parfitt says:

    4 episodes down and things are getting fraught. I’m concerned that one of those nasty politicians or Special Branch types will attempt something horrid….watch out Sarah !!

  8. sarah males says:

    Does anyone know where we can get a tracklisting from? The music is puzzling me……..

    • Mrs P. says:

      I’d love to know too. I think the soundtrack would sell extremely well (hint just in case anyone from the Forbrydelsen production team is reading).

  9. KalpanaS says:

    classic scenes – reluctantly having her forehead dabbed by Strange, having rescued her from a near-death experience – well the hoodie-baddie who [???] nearly gave her one. The look – iced the romantic clinch/cliché! – no mush for ‘our Sarah’! Couldn’t help contrasting this scene with a similar one in the Spiral – what’s her name the female detective could not be more at the other end of the spectrum from Sarah Lund – focussed but volatile…. Back to the plot. Am growing fond of chubby cheeks the politician – admonished like a naughty school boy …. wonderful scenes where he goes to drown his sorrows with a multi-ethnic crowd, and then he goes visits his colleague, and you see behind all that chubby incompetence, he too has ‘the look’- things are clicking. The other scene where I laughed out loud is where he gets down on the toilet floor to harangue the politician seated on his ‘throne’ in the cubicle, caught with his trousers down? And, did he wash his hands before he handled the payers thrust at him by Chubby cheeks – or is this a sign that he has been caught dirty-handed? At the end of the second of the two episodes Sarah and Strang are off to [???]. The plot takes off….

    A couple of wee spoilers omitted Mrs P. :)

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