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.
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!
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!
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.