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The Top 10 Biggest Detective Blunders on AMC’s ‘The Killing’

It would have been a great show, if not for the offensive amount of crime-solving sloppiness

“The Killing” sounded like a great idea.

After over a decade dominated by “Law & Order” and “CSI” the crime drama seemed ready for a fresh take — but things quickly went sour. If “Game of Thrones” went out on a high note, “The Killing” limped into its season finale. 

I wish I could say the critics were being too harsh but they weren’t. Instead of a breath of fresh air, the AMC show just reminded everyone why police procedurals became so popular. Gil Grissom or Lenny Briscoe wouldn’t have bungled the case this badly.

I’ve got my own list of “The Killing’s” biggest police work blunders. The worst part about this list is that I came on board at episode 9 and I was still able to come up with 10 examples of shoddy detective work.

And this list does not include the much hated “twist” at the end of the season finale. That plot point was so heinous it deserves its own list of all the ways it didn’t make sense or was utterly impossible.

As Wolfgang Pauli would say, “That’s not right. It’s not even wrong!”


10. They didn’t check to see if a cab picked up Rosie after she left Ahmed’s place. It’s only after they nearly get the guy killed that they decide to check out his story. Low and behold that very day they find the cabbie that picked her up. That’s something you check before you zero-in on the guy as your main suspect. I can hear Lenny Briscoe say, “Yeah the guy acted squirrely but the vic left his place alive. Whatever else, he’s not our killer.”

9. They didn’t check her phone records. Later in that same episode they find out Rosie received a phone call. They don’t bother asking if it was her cell phone or a land line but that doesn’t make much difference. Either way Detectives Linden and Holder obviously didn’t check the victim’s phone records very thoroughly.

8. They were unable to link the keychain to the Casino — despite the fact that there’s this big honking billboard and it’s close to where her body was found.

7. They were unable to identify Adela. Seattle has a lot of water — ferries are a way of life over there. Checking the ferry names would be as automatic to a Seattle cop as checking the street names.

6. They did not check the internet history on Rosie’s computer. Salon really burned the show for this one. It should not take the cops 10 days to find out about the sexy escort service.

5. Did not do an area search near the lake where they found the car. Linden points out that the gas station where they suspect the killer topped off his tank is just 3 miles from where Rosie was found. Then they comb the area and find Rosie’s missing shoe. Why didn’t they comb the area for 5 miles around the crime scene in the first place? This leads us to…

4. No one checked gas station that was near the lake. There’s this old gas station about three miles from where a car was dumped into a lake with a girl locked in the trunk. Hmmm, maybe we should check all the filling stations in the area and see if they spotted something. No let’s not do that. Let’s wait until day 13.

3. Did not check the gas mileage or fuel level against records for the car — again something they should have done in the first 24 hours they don’t do until 13 days into the investigation. A solid rule of detective work is witnesses are unreliable. Real cops look for solid, physical evidence and discrepancies. The mileage on the car’s odometer and its fuel level would have been something they would have immediately looked at.

2. Did not check the casino — everything centers around an apparently fictitious island on Lake Washington. The crime scene, gas station and Indian Casino are all located there or near there. So why did it take them over a week before they snooped around the casino? If nothing else it’s right next to the ferry terminal, one of only two ways on or off the island. That alone should have brought them around the place.

Which brings us too…

1. Did not bother to ask how the car got to the island in the first place. It’s not until the final two episodes that they announce that there are only two ways on and off the island, the ferry and a toll bridge. They should have gone right to those areas after making a thorough sweep of the crime scene and surrounding areas.

Michael Lee is a novel writer, blogger and freelance journalist living in L.A. He's been a judge for the prestigious PAGE Awards and blogs about his two biggest passions, screenwriting and food, at Screenwriting Foxhole and To Cook and Eat in L.A., respectively. Lee is also a co-author of "The Insider's Guide to Screenwriting" and has just published his first novel, "My Frankenstein."