The Killing III, BBC Four | TV reviews, news & interviews
The Killing III, BBC Four
Third series of Denmark's greatest TV export sets itself up to be more compelling than its predecessor
Zipping her trousers while coming out of a toilet cubicle, Sarah Lund continues the phone conversation that was on-going while she was in there. Making for a sink to wash her hands, she ignores the puppyish man trying to attract her attention. Nothing is going to distract Chief Inspector Lund, whether it’s the call of nature or the new police kid on the block.
The third and final series of The Killing doesn’t begin exactly like the second, with Sofie Gråbøl’s Lund marking time checking what comes off ships arriving in Denmark. Instead, we find her in another sort of holding pattern. On her 25th anniversary in the police, she’s looking forward to working for Operative, Planning and Analysis, a comfy chair-bound posting in a department considered a joke by the rest of the force.
Preoccupied with her favoured path, Lund doesn’t engage with the body parts littering a scrapyard on Copenhagen’s dock side. A wheelbarrow there, which she fancies buying, is more interesting. Earnest new boy Asbjørn Juncker (Sigurd Holmen Le Dous) senses this is more than the random murder of a homeless person. She’s not fussed. The involvement of Special Branch operative Mathias Borch (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) (pictured right, photo by Tine Harden) – brought in as the docks were a stop-off for the campaigning Prime Minister – doesn’t divert her either. Soon, a photo of a tattooed, dismembered arm draws her in, even though she’s at home having a difficult phone conversation with her son. Lund won’t be heading for stats and charts.
The UK premiere of The Killing III is a major distraction. One that might even turn Lund’s head. Even if the nitty-gritty of the 30 episodes of the first two series aren’t familiar, she has become instantly recognisable. Although not quite on the same level, The Killing and its fellow DR (Denmark's national broadcaster) production Borgen have also achieved the unlikely by making Denmark’s complex coalition politics familiar. Lund and her boss, Morten Suurballe's Lurch-like Lennart Brix, are the only characters retained from previous series. Otherwise, there's a raft of new faces to get to grips with.
Despite that, The Killing's universality makes it instantly compelling. The stories are grim, with unflinching depictions of victims, squalor and people knocked off balance, but it’s the finely drawn characters and their personal lives which resonate so much. Lund’s reaction to being told by her mother that her son does not want to see her is heart-stopping. Lonely, she rings up Borch in the dead of the night. He’s brisk, but they were at college together and have a past which will no doubt be revealed as the series unfolds.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Andrew Graham-Dixon's series offers so much more than the title suggests
Will China's army of young instrumentalists conquer the planet?
On manoeuvres with the world's best-known aerobatics team
Return of enthralling social history series
Twitter votes no but Scotland puts out a cheerful welcome mat
Return of 19th-century industrial saga is dingy, drab and didactic
Beethoven, Berry and Black Sabbath: cracking the rock'n'roll code
More drama than musical in TV adaptation of the inspirational true story
Maritime series washes up on screens at the wrong time of night
Dennis Kelly's tortuous spine-chiller roars back in lethal form
A generic mutation has come back from the grave, and it still sucks
Stories of the tunes the Beeb refused to play