That is the central question behind AMC's new show, "The Killing." But this series is about so much more than a simple homicide investigation - it's about the people left behind, the impact of a life and the destruction created by a senseless murder. Based on a Danish show, "The Killing" centers around a few groups of people: Rosie's grieving family, the detectives investigating her death, and a mayoral candidate who gets caught in the crossfire when Rosie's body is found in one of his campaign cars.
The lead detective on the case is Linden, a quiet but competent detective who is supposed to be on her last day when Rosie's body is found. Her plans to move to Sonoma with her fiancee are derailed by Rosie's murder, as she stays behind to find the killer. Mireille Enos plays Linden with a soft confidence. She is good at her job, but not showy. With a firm intelligence she goes about unraveling the investigation, pulling along her intended replacement, an aggressive homicide rookie who has just been transferred from vice.
Enos is impressive, but the real pull of the show acting-wise is Michelle Forbes as Rosie's mother, Mitch. Forbes embodies Mitch in every way possible, showing her in the pilot to be a loving but somewhat distracted wife and mother, and masterfully descending into devastation as Rosie's fate is revealed. Watching her hold herself underwater to try to understand her daughter's drowning death is horrifying and heartbreaking. Seeing her and her husband (played perfectly by Brent Sexton) react as they try to explain to their young sons what has happened to their sister is devastating.
"The Killing" is not a procedural, not really. Yes, it centers around a murder investigation, but unlike any of the many "CSI" or "Law and Order" clones on network TV, it doesn't wrap everything in a neat bow in 40 minutes. Being on AMC, a network known for high-caliber shows like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad", it has the luxury of taking its time and really getting into the story. It benefits from a dreary Seattle setting and a stellar cast, and although the investigation is drawn out over the season, each episode so far has offered plenty of fodder to keep the audience compelled until the next Sunday night. I know I plan to be there.
The fourth episode of "The Killing" airs tomorrow night at 10/9 Central on AMC. The first three full episodes are available on the AMC website, as well as through the usual suspects (iTunes, Amazon, etc.).