It still rains a lot. But everything else has changed in the damp and deadly world of AMC’s The Killing for season three. Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) has quit Seattle homicide and lost custody of her teenage son. Her ex-partner Det. Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) has a new suit, new partner and an improved outlook on life. And the central mystery that reunites them isn’t solving one murder, but numerous, as a serial killer has been quietly preying on homeless street kids.
Showrunner Veena Sud spoke to EW about the new season of the show, the fate of which had nearly as many twists as the run-up to solving Rosie Larson’s murder last season. The Killing was effectively canceled by AMC. The show’s studio, Fox Television Studios, shopped the series around to other outlets, including Netflix. Eventually AMC, the studio and Netflix reached an agreement to reboot the show (The Killing will first air on AMC, then will be made available on Netflix three months after the season finale airs).
“It felt like a miracle that were were able to come back,” Sud says. “I feel incredibly blessed that there were so many people behind us returning.”
Sud says the new season picks up a year and three months after the conclusion of season two. Linden has quit the force, is working on a ferry and has taken a 25-year-old lover. “[Linden and Holder] have not seen each other since that day that Sarah walked out of the car and walked down the street and out of her old life,” the writer-producer says.
The first two seasons followed one case over the course of 26 episodes (a decision that taxed the patience of viewers who expected the whodunit to be solved at the end of the first season). Season three, assures Sud, will solve the central mystery by the end of the 13-episode season. “In season 3, the story lends itself to one season,” she says. “We’re going to solve it at the end.”
Sud cited two sources of inspiration for the new storyline: Photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s shots of street kids in the 1970s, and the police investigation of Washington state serial killer Gary Ridgway. “What fascinated me was not the psychology of the guy — that was uncomplicated and bland,” she says of the Ridgway case. “It was the fact that so many women could disappear and no one would notice. Stranger killings are very difficult to solve. And this took 20 years and 50-plus women killed. The police ‘murder board’ had all these pictures, most were mugshots … staring at you, not smiling. The more I looked at those photos I started to imagine the burden of responsibility those cops felt seeing those women look at them every day.”
While the first two seasons explored the world of Seattle politics, season 3 will delve into street-kid culture and the politics of death row. The Killing cast acclaimed actor Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass, Jarhead) as an inmate with 30 days before his scheduled execution. Seward was sent away to prison many years ago by Linden for a heinous crime that has continued to haunt her.
“Sarah’s secret that we discovered last season was that she had a break over a case three years ago and that case put her into a psychiatric unit for several days,” Sud says. “She’s always had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right, and we’ve seen hints of that case over the last two seasons.”