Forbrydelsen vs The Killing: Week One


We’re baaaack!  With AMC’s recent announcement that they’ve rescued The Killing from the land of the cancelled and have decided to push ahead with shooting a brand new third season, we thought it only fair that we should rescue these old posts from our archives as well.

Over the next few weeks we’ll try to get them all back into circulation.  They start off slow, but three or four weeks into it, you’ll see that we get uber obsessed and start jotting down all of the details from both versions, detective style.  

Whether  you’re a newbie watching from the very start, or if you’re a dedicated fan that just needs a refresh, we’re sure that you find these posts valuable.  Enjoy!

Welcome to the first in a new series of posts that will appear once a week for the next thirteen weeks. This past Sunday night AMC premiered their American remake of the critically acclaimed Danish murder mystery Forbrydelsen (“The Crime”) which they’ve cleverly retitled The Killing. My wife and I sat down and watched the first two episodes of both shows side by side and will continue to do so as the American show progresses. We had actually planned to watch all of the Danish series first, but after having some difficulty with finding proper English subtitles we decided to wait. Thankfully that issue has been resolved and we can now move forward. So join us over the coming weeks as we recap and theorize! No spoilers about upcoming events please!

Missed a post in this series? Play catch-up using the links below:

The-Killing-PosterSecond things first, the American remake did an amazing job with casting, so much so that I feel like we’ll have little difficulty (aside from the language barrier) in switching between the two versions of the show and keeping track of which character is which.  All of the major plot lines seem to be intact with minor, non-annoying updates which seem justified for American audiences.

If you’re a fan of HBO’s Big Love, then you’ll recognize Mireille Enos who played twins Kathy & Jodean Marquart in the role of lead homicide detective Sarah Linden and if you’re a fan of True Blood and/or Durham County then you’ll recognize Michelle Forbes in the role of grieving mother Mitch Larsen.  The only bit of casting that doesn’t gibe with the original is Being Erica’s Brandon Jay McLaren in the role of a high school teacher.

First things second, we watched the first two episodes of the original Danish series on Sunday night and were very impressed.  The characters are great, the storytelling is tight, and thankfully the translation seems to be spot on.  I was amazed at how difficult it was to track down English subtitles for the show, but thankfully since my initial searching it has been broadcast in both Australia and the United Kingdom which made things much easier this second time around.

The basic premise of both shows is that a seventeen-year-old female high school senior is first believed to missing, then turns up dead under mysterious circumstances.  The case falls into the lap of homicide detective Sara Lund or Sarah Linden depending on which version of the show you’re watching.  In both universes it happens to be her last day on the job.  In the Danish version she’s about to move to Sweden.  In the American version she’s about to move from Washington state to California.  In both versions she’s looking forward to starting a new life with a new husband and a son from a previous relationship.

Again, in both universes her replacement shows up and tags along with her as she reluctantly agrees to open the investigation.  Her partner is a creep in both shows, but he’s more of an annoying scumbag in the American version.  I’m not sure it works so well, but we’ll see as the show progresses.  It certainly does add some additional layers to his character that I hadn’t thought about while watching the original.

So we’ve got a dead girl, a grieving family, and two homicide detectives on the case.  What we’ve also got is a political candidate that may or may not be somehow connected to the crime.  It seems the girl’s body was recovered in a car that was rented by his campaign, but had been reported stolen.  It’s at this point that the two shows start to separate from one another.

In episode two of the original Danish series Lund and Meyer (that would be the new guy hired to replace her) end up at the garage where the rented cars are stored and give chase to a suspect who is attempting to flee.  They lose him, but they are able to identify him and are closing in on him in what appears will be a tense showdown as the episode comes to a conclusion.

In episode two of the American show there’s no such break when it comes to the car (at least not yet).  Instead Linden and Holder (he’s the American version of the replacement) end up in the school basement after Holder uses his sleazebag powers to get two young teenage girls to reveal to him that it’s frequently used by students to party.  They affectionately refer to it as “the cage” and when Holder and Linden check it out they find what appears to be the makings of a bloody crime scene.

Does this “cage” exist as the Danish show plays itself out or has it been invented for American audiences?  Questions like this I sure will continue to pop up as we struggle with keeping the pacing similar while watching both versions.  The biggest obstacle we’re facing is that original Danish series ran for twenty episodes, but the American order is only thirteen.  I’m thinking we may need to double up on our Danish viewing moving forward so that the American show doesn’t spill the beans on any major plot developments too early for us.

Overall, color us impressed with both versions of the show so far.  Did anyone else watch?  Has anyone else watched the original series?  No spoilers please!  What do/does/did folks think of the premiere?

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • Koen

    shocking last ep right? Is the storyline similar in the danish season 3? What do you think will happen in last episode?

    Have fun watching..


    • Typographical Era

      Seasons 1 & 2 of the American follow season 1 of Forbrydelsen. Season 3 of the American is off on it’s own and has nothing to do with the events of Forbrydelsen 2 or 3.

      2 Episodes to go! This season is very good, I agree.