The Killing III episodes 5 & 6 review

This week, The Killing III delivers one classic episode, and one that's the weakest link so far. Here's James' review...

This review contains spoilers.

Episodes 3.5 & 3.6

Unlike some police dramas, we don’t get high speed car chases in The Killing, so the opening of episode five is about as close as we’re going to come to one. Detective Inspector Sarah Lund is on her way with shipping tycoon Robert Zeuthen to exchange him for his kidnapped daughter with our mystery perpetrator who needs a debt repaying that’s got something to do with a girl called Louise turning up murdered in the docks near one of Zeuthen’s ships. 

Not heeding the kidnapper’s instructions – again! – Lund’s co-workers Mathias Borch and Asbjørn Juncker aren’t far behind with Juncker tailing the truck the perp is driving. Unfortunately, Emilie Zeuthen’s abductor proves to be one step ahead of the Copenhagen police department. There are mobile drops and vehicle swaps, even blocking tunnels off to give Juncker the slip. 

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The beginning of episode five feels like it could be a season finale given how dramatically and quickly this whole scene plays out. In typical Sarah Lund fashion, she chooses this moment to reveal to the kidnapper some very interesting plot developments. I’m not sure how wise it is to attempt to confuse a person with clear issues that’s holding a young girl hostage, but that’s the tactic that Lund goes for. Turns out the Zeuthen sailors who were implicated in the Louise’s death didn’t show up until the Friday when she in fact went missing on the Thursday, another detail which has been doctored in the report. 

It’s a bit of shocker for our kidnapper and us as an audience. You can see what Lund is up to, trying to convince him that Zeuthen had nothing to do with it but best laid plans and all. In what feels like the most emotional moment The Killing has had since Nanna Birk Larsen’s home video was found in season one, Emilie Zeuthen is stuffed inside a duffle bag and mercilessly shot in the head. As a viewer it felt like getting punched in the stomach. 

The majority of the remainder of episode five is devoted to the fall out from this event. Naturally it leaves quite a trail of devastation in its wake. Borch becomes obsessed to desk-throwing levels with what has unfolded. The Zeuthen family are understandably beyond consolation. Anders W Berthelsen is tremendous in this episode. His complete isolation and guilt boils over by the end of this instalment. Having presented the kidnapper with information that would have absolved him, Zeuthen has still lost his daughter. Is this to do with him, or not? 

Back at police HQ, things aren’t going too well for DCI Lennart Brix either. Brix has been something of a background character for much of The Killing, sometimes there only to try and rein in Sarah Lund, not very successfully for the most part. This episode casts a little more light on the Brix character. When a Michael Schumacher-lookalike investigator wants answers as to just how badly the cops have screwed this up, Brix is the one who takes responsibility. We’re told that he has resisted cuts to his department. The theme of financial crisis rears its head again here. The Killing III keeps coming back to this in subtle ways. Whether it turns out to be a major plot point or a background setting is still unclear. 

Elsewhere, those politicians are still trying to act as though they’re as interesting as everything else that’s going on. Sadly, the meeting between Prime Minister Kristian Kamper and his lover’s ex-husband that promised to be revealing last week doesn’t happen. Upon receiving news of Emilie Zeuthen’s demise Kamper does what any good politician would do and decides to resign. This leads to an intriguing reveal as the some of the details surrounding his own son’s disappearance are filled in. 

In true Killing style, Kamper has his fearsome female aide Karen who just won’t have it and uncovers some pretty startling evidence by the episode’s end. Remember that prosecutor who got kicked off a building and had something to do with the Justice Minister, who got fired by Kamper last week? Turns out he may have had more to do with the leader of Kamper’s opposition. While it’s hard to envisage that this whole thing is connected to rigging an election taking place years later, there’s going to be something here. 

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And then there is Sarah Lund. Lund is put through the emotional wringer this episode and it almost gets too much for her. It’s another outstanding performance from Sofie Gråbøl. The fact that her actions may have led to the death of Emilie Zeuthen causes Lund to finally break down. She’s also still got Eve, her son’s pregnant girlfriend lodging with her and with Mark nowhere to be seen, accompanies her to an ultrasound. Lund’s reaction to the scan is one of quiet emotional outburst. Why though is unclear – is it Emilie? Is it her grandchild? 

Whatever it is, it galvanises Lund into action as she returns to the scene of the exchange. It’s a testament to just how powerful an episode of The Killing this is that we didn’t realise at the time the implications of the location and only do so now, along with Lund. The boat upon which the kidnapper shot Emilie passed out of sight under a bridge for a few moments. Was that Emilie he threw over the side? As the credits roll on episode five, we’re definitely not sure. 

In comparison, episode six feels like something of a come down after the emotional rollercoaster of five. It seems as if Lund’s words to our perpetrator have touched a nerve as evidence points to someone checking Zeuthen shipping records and heading off to Jutland where Louise’s body was found. In a red van. It might have been a nice touch if it had been a Birk Larsen van. 

Lund, Borch and Juncker take off in hot pursuit to Jutland and in a rare moment The Killing does a bit of comedy. An exchange between Lund and Borch reveals that Borch had a sore back the last time they went on a road trip which Sarah reveals “wasn’t from sleeping in the car!” It’s a weird moment for The Killing and not totally welcome. Thankfully, it doesn’t last. 

It could be that this was just prepping us for what comes later in this episode when Lund gives in to her primal urges and spends the night with Borch. Besides the treat of seeing the Lund bottom in all its glory, the most interesting aspect of this encounter is that it shows the Lund character once again giving into her emotions. With Eve’s pregnancy, the desk job looming and her reaction to Emilie Zeuthen’s alleged murder, we’re seeing a much more emotionally impulsive Sarah Lund this series and it seems to be increasing. How will this all play out into the finale? It could be that Lund is setting herself up for her biggest fall yet. 

The question of whether or not Emilie Zeuthen is alive or dead hangs over the whole of this episode. We don’t get any further contact from our kidnapper but he is around. In Jutland, Lund and Borch pay a visit to Louise’s old school where someone has been rooting around. It’s another good excuse for The Killing to play up it’=s horror movie leanings and for Lund to be walking around in the dark with only a flashlight for company. 

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The Zeuthen family are left with Lennart Brix for company back in Copenhagen who is stuck with the dilemma of just what to tell them about Emilie. An unfortunate slip of the tongue almost lands him in hot water but then by the time this episode concludes a body has been delivered. Is it Emilie? We don’t know yet. 

Over on the political side, Ussing, the leader of the opposition is now the focus of Kamper’s distrust and seems to have the upper hand over Kristian. There’s not much else to say about this side of the story at the moment. Ussing may well turn out to be hiding something but you wouldn’t want to bet on it right now with knowledge of The Killing’s previous form with it’s political subplots. 

The most interesting thing to come out of episode six is Sarah Lund’s visit to Louise’s foster parents. A lot of detail is filled in to her disappearance and her last sightings. Intriguingly it seems she was only an orphan because her father was never known. It is known that he was a sailor. All of a sudden, the Zeuthen connection could be back but perhaps not for the reasons we’d all assumed in earlier episodes. 

As that familiar music that signals the end of each episode of The Killing swells in the background, Lund and Borch find themselves trapped in a disused shipping building after finding the red van the perp took. Borch has revealed that he may have known a few more details than he’s been letting on and once again our kidnapper is one step ahead.  

Episode six feels like the weakest link in this series so far, but that could be just because it followed number five which was one of the finest Killing episodes ever. We have little contact from our perp in six but we do get a few details filled in on Louise.

It’s one classic episode and one solid effort this week from The Killing III. The pace is still relentless and with four episodes to go there is still an awful lot of ground to cover before this case, and Sarah Lund, are put to bed.

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