'The Killing' is Following the Same Patterns, Instead of Breaking the Mold

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When the third season of  The Killing kicked off last Sunday, it looked like it was mixing all the other successful ingredients of other AMC shows (Breaking Bad catch phrases + Walking Dead gore x Mad Men symbolism = critical acclaim and ratings gold) to reinvent the divisive series. But last night's new episode, titled "Seventeen," leads me to believe that The Killing isn't a mix of more beloved AMC shows after all. Rather, it's an amalgamation of every grisly, violent, anti-woman procedural out there.

Even when The Killing is at its most captivating (but the bleak, glacially paced series is rarely so), it's hard to shake the feeling that it's not something we've already seen ad nauseam. While the story is playing out on a larger scale this season and features more players (not to mention more victims — the bodies of 17 decapitated female teens were recovered from a lake), the episode felt like déjà vu.

Peter Sarsgaard's unflinching, unsettling, and scheming (there's no way that was an attempted suicide in his jail cell, but a greater plan) convicted killer Ray Seward? He feels eerily similar to the serial killer masterminds on The Following (especially with the young son thrown in the mix) and Hannibal.

How about a female detective (here, Mireille Enos' Sarah) back in the saddle, working on an absolutely horrifying case that deals with the sexual exploitation of minors alongside her old partner (Joel Kinnaman's Stephen), with whom she has palpable chemistry? Hell, Law & Order: SVU has delivered that M.O. for 14 seasons.

Maybe it's because I'm not a fan of this relentless onslaught of serial killer procedurals in which young women die in the most gruesome ways possible, but I can't seem to shake the feeling that The Killing is going to follow suit. The sad thing is, it's a formula that works.

Image: AMC