“The Killing” and “Twin Peaks”

I’m not the only one to notice the similarities between “The Killing” and “Twin Peaks.” Both shows take place in the Pacific Northwest, center on the death of a teenage girl, and give the viewers more than a glimpse of the underbelly of a city whose residents want their secrets kept hidden.

For me, I didn’t start watching “The Killing” until a few weeks ago.  I’m not even finished with the series (just finished season two), but the question of “Who killed Rosie Larson” is just too similar to “Who killed Laura Palmer.” Instead of FBI agents (or, in the case of “Twin Peaks,” just Agent Dale Cooper), we get Seattle homicide detectives, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder. Linden, in the pilot episode, is just quitting her job to move to Sonoma and get married. Holder is her replacement, and the two of them get paired to work on the newly reported murder of Rosie Larsen — a teenage girl who was found in the trunk of a car at the bottom of a lake. While she wasn’t “wrapped in plastic” like Laura Palmer — whose body was found on the bank of a river — Rosie was reported as alive at the time of her drowning in the car. That starts the detectives down a rabbit hole into the connections Rosie had with her family, friends, teachers, and even political candidates for Mayor. Like “Twin Peaks,” there are many red herrings along the way, and like “Twin Peaks,” solving who killed Rosie took more than a season.

Now, there are clear differences between the two shows. “Twin Peaks” was a David Lynch creation, so the weirdness factor was amped up to 11 at times. There was a dancing midget, a woman who speaks to a log, a one-arm man, a deputy who cries easily, a grieving dad who morphs into a guy who sings and dances in public, and an alternate reality where supernatural things happen. “The Killing” has none of that. But it does have the human connections that take the viewer into organized crime, prostitution, Indian casinos, city politics, and the dynamics of Rosie’s family.  At the center are the flawed detectives Linden and Holder. Linden is pure ice and obsessed with her work. She gets so focused on a case, that she neglects her teenage son (which causes more than one conflict in the story). Holder is a recovering narcotics addict who doesn’t seem like a very good detective — well, at first.  He smokes a lot, speaks with a black accent (complete with a panoply of 2011 hip-hop slang), and seems very resentful that Linden won’t let him do his job — a job he’s not entirely qualified to do. As with most partnerships that begin with a high level of conflict, this one eventually evolves into a friendship. The elements needed for compelling TV are there, and by and large the show remains compelling throughout the first two seasons of “The Killing.” There are a couple of episodes in the second season that tend to drag a bit, but overall it’s a show that had me glued.

However, the one telltale nod to “Twin Peaks” in “The Killing” came twice in the first two seasons when Linden said “Rosie had secrets.” For “Twin Peaks” fans, you’ll know Dr. Jacoby said very early on that “Laura had secrets.” And both girls frequented a casino, kept their own form of journals (Rosie made films, Laura actually wrote a journal), were connected to a seedy underworld, and wanted to run away from home (albeit for different reasons). The comparisons between the two girls don’t line up exactly, but there’s a lot that intersects making it more than a coincidence that “The Killing” has a familiar ring to it.

Update:  I just watched episode one of season three and (gasp!) Laura Palmer’s mom is in the show.  She plays the manager of a flop motel.  Good Christ!  Between the “Twin Peaks” comparisons and the number of “Battlestar Galactica” actors who appear in “The Killing,” this show is a hybrid of TV that I love!

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