Why the World Is Tiring of 'The Killing'

How AMC's detective drama lost its way

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Breaking up is hard to do, unless you happen to be breaking up with a TV show. Theoretically, all you need to do is delete all the unwatched episodes from your DVR and you're done with it. Should you stumble upon the show one night while channel surfing, it will provoke none of the feelings of seeing an ex out a date with someone else. It's just a TV show you don't watch anymore.

Having said that, we're still smarting over our break up with AMC detective drama The Killing. When the show premiered eleven weeks ago, we thought the relationship was going to last. The rain, the moral ambiguity, the promise of a labyrinthine conspiracy--we loved it all. Then something happened and our interest began to fade.

As the show prepares for its season finale Sunday, we're glad to see that we're not alone. Hit Fix's Alan Sepinwall blames "the season's long, pointless middle section" with sapping momentum from the series. We actually gave up on the show after episode four, but we think Sepinwall's on to something when he says the show's  reluctance to flesh out the character of the murdered Rosie Larsen contributed to viewers' antsiness. "I'm not saying all murder victims on mystery series need to be so prominent after the fact," Sepinwall explains, "but when you're spending an entire season on one case, you damn sure need to make us understand and care more about the victim than "The Killing" has let us with Rosie." The Rosie character was the center of the show's marketing campaign, but The Killing, writes Sepinwall, is really about two gloomy cops "investigating the murder of a girl the show had completely lost interest in."

At Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz writes that after a strong start, the show "spiraled flabby nonsense, becoming nearly as ridiculous as "Damages" and the groundbreaking "Murder One," but a lot more solemn, affected and full of itself." Digressions also hurt the show's momentum. Zoller Seitz says the show "wasted several episodes on a sub-"24" plotline about possible Muslim terrorists operating out of a mosque," which was followed by "an equally unbelievable plotline about some sort of underground railroad for young Muslim women marked for ritual female circumcision." Over at Slate, Nina Shen Rastogi agreed the female circumcision subplot was "a clumsy, Law and Order: SVU-style plot twist," but for her, but it was in the ninth episode that the show finally "burned through whatever goodwill" it discarded the terrorist red herring. Just once, she writes in her recap of the episode, it would have been nice to see the show "take a narrative standto write itself into a situation it couldn't just explain away in the first ten minutes of the following episode."

None of this frustration stopped AMC from announcing it had renewed the series for a second season earlier this week But even the show's supporters, like the Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert, seemed guilty of damning The Killing with faint praise. Gilbert called the season "the best 13-hour episode of Law & Order ever." He meant it as a compliment, but that might be the whole problem.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.