AMC is on an original series roll and while their newest show, Low Winter Sun, doesn’t hit the high marks of Breaking Bad but it has potential. Low Winter Sun is set in Detroit and the city looks about as warm as Beirut, and riddled with crime and corruption. Mark Strong (Green Lantern, Sherlock Holmes) is veteran cop, Frank Agnew, and he is one good cop with one eye on the corruption of his department and the other on his own back.
Low Winter Sun opens with Frank and fellow cop Joe Geddes (Lennie James) murdering Brennan McCann, an on-the-take police officer, by drowning him in a bar’s kitchen before disposing the body in the river. It is a malaise of storytelling and all I kept thinking was “what is going on?” Fortunately, it eventually finds its footing and rights the ship. It is when the new day dawns that Frank and Joe realize that Internal Affairs (aka “The Rat Squad”) are in the department and trying to find McCann…amongst other things. Mark Strong is very good as Frank and commits to the role that could cement him a spot on the A-List.
While there is not much more to do in this first episode as the narrative is set up, it was better than most pilots. Ruben Santiago-Hudson of Castle fame is playing almost exactly the role he had on that ABC hit. Why they would cast Hudson in such a similar role to Castle’s Captain Montgomery is a question mark, though.The reasoning behind the killing of McCann becomes clearer as the show progresses and the corruption runs deep at the DPD. Killing McCann could not have been done on a worse night and the as the fallout begins it looks bad. Real bad.
At its heart, Low Winter Sun is a gritty crime drama with the city of Detroit as its most interesting character. There are several subplots involving peripheral characters involved with drugs and the local heavy that provides protection to the neighborhood. I was unable to catch a single name of these characters and clearly this is the underlying current that will take a back seat to Frank and Joe’s main story about murdering one of their own…even if he deserved it after supposedly killing Agnew’s girlfriend Katia.
Things get murky and it’s apparent that getting rid of McCann may have been their dumbest move. If we have learned anything about cops from pop culture it is that a killer with a badge is the most dangerous thing…especially in Detroit. The greys and saturated backgrounds lend themselves well to the down and dirty story. While it didn’t grab me from the get-go the way AMC’s The Killing did a few years ago, Low Winter Sun may just have the gritty feel and powerful performances to turn it into a possible new hit for AMC. However, as with most pilots, this sample size is far too small to make any judgments.