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Killer tension in crime drama

You have to watch The Killing. Really watch it. It's what David Simon, speaking about his own series, The Wire, christened "lean-in television". The Killing being subtitled means you have to lean in that little bit closer.

By the end of Saturday's double-bill opener to the third and final series, that immersion had been more than rewarded. After a slightly wobbly second series, which took Sarah Lund (Sofie Grabol) to Afghanistan and pulled a little hard on the strings of credulity, The Killing is back on more familiar, more satisfying ground.

We're reintroduced to Lund as she's about to receive an award for 25 years service in the police force (she doesn't look old enough!). A desk job in administration beckons. She's attempting to reconnect with her son by inviting him and his girlfriend to dinner. The offer is declined.


The trademark jumper is still there, but it's a natty, chevron-patterned number and Lund, as if suddenly remembering she's a woman as well as a cop, has taken to wearing heels. Neither, you know, is destined to last once the corpses start piling up, which they do quickly.

The dismembered body of a sailor is found at the docks on the day Denmark's prime minister, who's facing into an election and locked in a shaky coalition with a junior party (a situation complicated by the fact that he's fallen in love with one of its members), is due to visit.

Like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, just when Lund thinks she's out of the game, she's pulled back in. From a tattoo on the victim's arm, she deduces he's a crew member of a ship called 'Medea', which is in dry dock. The bodies of two more crew members are found aboard.

The ship is owned by an outfit called Zeeland, which is Denmark's biggest company and is on the verge of relocating its business elsewhere unless the government agrees to favourable tax breaks.

The company's head, Robert Zeuthen, is having problems of his own, both with the board and with his ex-wife, who he accuses of not taking proper care of their nine-year-old daughter during her visitations. The investigation spirals off into a sinister new direction when the child is abducted.

The kidnapper demands repayment of "a debt" but leaves it to the family to decide how much the child's life is worth. Ten-million kronor (about €1m) is offered and seemingly accepted, and Lund is charged with delivering it to the drop-off point alone -- but her new sidekick, Borch, is shadowing her.

She's distracted at a railway station when she spots her son and his now heavily pregnant girlfriend, and consequently misses her connecting train.

She arrives at the rendezvous on foot but the killer, who's been in contact by phone, has spotted Borch and responds by hanging the deputy public prosecutor from the roof of the courthouse, with the warning: "Next time you consider paying small change for the life of a girl...".

This was a densely packed two hours and there were times when a good working knowledge of Danish politics would have helped. But The Killing is back to what it does best: expertly juggling murder and mayhem with domestic drama and political intrigue. Gripping television.

After last week's visceral opening episode, Love/Hate pulled back a little. If, that is, you can call Darren (Robert Sheehan, whose character has been reconfigured as more brutal and heartless) pumping a fall guy for the murder of Real IRA thug Git full of bullets, and then having to do the same to his girlfriend, pulling back.

This was Love/Hate in holding pattern, nudging, rather than speeding, the story forward.

What happens next week will determine a lot.

The Killing III hhhhh

Love/Hate HHHII