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Want to see some sublime television? Watch The Killing

To an outsider, some cities have the look of hell – crowded, noisy places of ceaseless movement and agitation. And then there are other kinds of urban hell – cities of endless rain, grey clouds and a sense of brooding perversity beneath the heavy skies.

The Killing (AMC, Sunday, 8 p.m.) presents Seattle as just such a place – grey, grim, depressingly seething with unhappiness. The series is actually made in Vancouver, but in The Killing, Seattle is a major character – woebegone and mirthless.

AMC almost cancelled The Killing last year, and it's a good thing it didn't. This third season is sublime television, beautifully crafted, delicately probing of love, hate, regret and redemption. And there's a fine mystery, if you have the stomach for its heavy-hearted tone and hints of unspeakable horror.

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The first two seasons saw main characters Detective Linden (wonderfully acted by Mireille Enos) and Detective Holder (Joel Kinnaman) track one case, the murder of Rosie Larsen. By the end, some viewers had lost patience with the twists and turns, and, on the show, Linden had almost lost her mind.

This third season, which has creator Veena Sud firmly back in charge, opens in a Seattle so drenched in rain and gloom that you are certain something awful is about to happen. Turns out it already has – Holder, now with new partner Carl Reddick (Gregg Henry) is called to the discovery of a body. A teenage girl has been murdered and horribly so. Partner Carl is glib about it all, wisecracking to hide his discomfort and prattling about pay and overtime. But Holder, now looking leaner and cleaner than before, knows he is looking at a crime that might have terrible depths.

In short order, he seeks out Linden for help and advice. The Linden we meet is no longer a cop, but working as a ferry attendant. She's living in a remote area and has a boyfriend. But this is a woman carrying a terrible weight. She looks like a ghost of her former self. Although she tells Holder she has no interest in going back to that life of bearing witness to the innocent dead, she realizes she has no choice – the murder case Holder has brought to her is connected to an old case involving a man now on death row.

Something about that case has long troubled Linden, and as she pokes around in her memory, an awful scenario begins to unfold. Once again, The Killing presents viewers with an extraordinarily compelling mystery.

There are several elements that make this reborn series fabulous television. One is its look – the treatment of the weather and landscape is at once gorgeous and creepy. Colour is used sparingly but to profound effect. The red of blood is what matters, and it is seen in many dull hues before the stark reality of brutal murder becomes the focus. And then there is the striking chemistry between Kinnaman and Enos as Holder and Linden. They are remarkable together, tied in a relationship so nuanced it is a joy to watch. There is also a lovely symmetry achieved with the inclusion of the new character Carl Reddick. His blithe approach to crime stands in sharp contrast to the depth of what Linden and Holder feel.

The Killing is truly great, this time out. If you want sunny skies and laughs, look somewhere else. This is beautifully grim, galvanizing storytelling.

Also airing this weekend

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Women's Soccer: Canada vs. United States (Sunday, Sportsnet, 4:30 p.m.) is the sports event of the weekend, let no one tell you otherwise. This exhibition game – which sold out in less than an hour – lets the Canadian women's team face their tormentors from last year's phenomenal game at the Olympics. Revenge? This is one highly charged, emotional soccer game.

The Women's Concert for Change: Live from London (Sunday, NBC, 9 p.m.) is a concert held "to help raise funds and awareness for female empowerment." Performers include Beyoncé, Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine, Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, John Legend and Timbaland. So there.

Homecoming: The Casualties of War (Sunday, CPAC, 9 p.m.) is Esprit de Corps editor Scott Taylor's documentary, "looking at the aftermath of war and the psychological, physical and emotional effects that extend beyond the battlefield." Soldiers tell of what faced them and their families upon their return from duty in Afghanistan. Retired Canadian general Roméo Dallaire is also featured and "shares how the man he is now is not the same one his wife married, because of the impact war had on him."

Keeping Up With the Kardashians: We're Having a Baby (Sunday, E!, 9 p.m.) is actually Season 8, Episode 1 of the ongoing circus that is Kardashian-land. An amazing number of people watch this thing. "Kim's pregnancy brings joy to the family but Kim's behaviour shows she may feel differently." What. Ever.

All times ET. Check local listings.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More


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