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'Those Who Kill' Presents TV's Latest Conflicted Hero
March 1, 2014  | By Donna J. Plesh  | 2 comments

[Editor's Note: TVWW contributor Donna J. Plesh died April 2, 2015, from ovarian cancer. She was 71. Donna covered television since the early 1980s, initially for the Orange County Register and its TV magazine. She also was a member of the Television Critics Association. Donna was always a cheerful spirit within the TVWW network and often gave readers a kind, up-close viewpoint in her interviews with a wide variety of television stars. She will be missed.]

Series focusing on murderers, serial killers and really bad guys are staples on network TV and cable these days. Now A&E’s new drama, Those Who Kill, can be added to that list...

It stars indie film (and TV — Big Love, American Horror Story, The Mindy Project) actress Chloe Sevigny and British actor James D’Arcy (Hitchcock, Cloud Atlas).

Sevigny plays Catherine Jensen, a newly minted homicide detective hunting gruesome murderers— those who kill — in Pittsburgh. When, in the first episode, the hunt for a serial killer terrorizing the city is not going well, Jensen, on her own, recruits the help of forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer (James D’Arcy), a specialist with a less than stellar relationship with the Pittsburgh Police Department.

Catherine and Thomas both bring a lot of emotional baggage to the cases they are working on and their lives. In Catherine’s case, she’s trying to find out what happened to her brother who disappeared years ago, and she suspects her stepfather had something to do with it.

The 10-part series, from executive producer and writer Glen Morgan (The X-Files, Bionic Woman) and executive producers Brian Grazer (numerous big screen films, as well as TV’s Parenthood and Friday Night Lights, among others) premieres at 10 p.m. ET Monday, Mar. 3, on A&E.

“I love working, and I love playing this character,” Sevigny said in a recent interview. “She’s so complex and she’s in so much pain, and she’s just trying to find her way out of this darkness and by any means necessary, which includes manipulating James’ character as best she can.

“I don’t know how much we’re revealing about where the story goes, but Catherine believes... that when she was a child, her brother was abused and then she was also abused, and then her brother was killed by her stepfather, who is a judge, a very respected member of society. And she’s kind of, after that, you know, shut down, and then decided to join the police force as like a tool to help her take him down,” said Sevigny.

The actress added that playing this type of character is hard.

“You have to strike a balance because you want to make the character dynamic and people to be able to relate to her, but she can’t rest until there is justice for what happened to her brother. So, you know, she’s just shut herself off from the world. She can’t function in any relationships. She has some tenderness with her mother, but other than that, she can’t really function as a human.

"And she thinks as soon as this ends with her brother and she brings it to light, what happened to him, that this cloud is going to lift and everything’s going to be better, but it might not necessarily be that way, and that’s why I’m really hoping for a second season so we can see what happens in the aftermath.

"I feel like so many stories that I’ve read, and true crime and other books, about family members who have sisters or daughters or any family members die and victims and the crimes remain unsolved, they just can’t find any peace or any rest until it is, so something like that,” she said.

The first episode throws out a lot for viewers to digest, including the hunt for a serial killer and Catherine and Thomas’ personal problems. Both seem like loose cannons in their jobs, and D’Arcy agrees.

“I think that is exactly what the pilot is supposed to do — to leave you wondering what’s going to happen next to these two people. They both are on the edge of something and I hope and I do feel — knowing what happens next — that what makes it kind of compelling is that they make decisions that really other people would not make.

"You see that in the pilot, the pair of us do things that other people really wouldn’t do. And I think that will leave you [viewers] off balance and uncertain as to how they will deal with any given situation. My real hope is that people find the mystery of the two characters to be the compelling thing that brings them back week after week after week,” he said in a recent interview.

Though the first episode deals with a serial killer, executive producer Morgan says that the series is not a serial killer drama. The show is “really, really trying to be about the victims. When it was first brought up to all of us, I think there was Penn State. And in writing it, there was Aurora. While we were shooting, Sandy Hook had happened a couple hours before. And dramatically there’s danger and there are odd people and they’re threatening and that’s the last thing you would want to see and that just makes good drama.

"But that’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to talk about, like Chloe said, the ramifications of violence, of what the victims have to suffer, and it’s just not done when you lock the guy away or he happens to die or whoever it may be, the perpetrator of it. You know, it rings out and that’s what our show is trying to be about,” said Morgan, attending the same Television Critics Association press tour interview in January.

The drama is based on a Danish series, also translated as Those Who Kill, from 2011, starring Laura Bach (picture at right). The first episode of America's version is self-contained, Morgan said, but future episodes will vary in length.

“We have other cases that are three episodes. We have one case that’s two episodes and we have one that’s just one episode. And so I think that hopefully keeps the audience on their feet. They’re not sure when this case is going to wrap up,” he said.

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T Keating
When the first episode ended I let out a breath I'd been holding, for, I don't know how long. Chloe Sevigny really gives her character a tough, disturbing edge. This is one damaged character. Well portrayed.
I can't wait for the rest of the series. It's one of those shows that I almost wished I'd discovered after the first season was wrapped up so I could just binge watch the whole thing.
Mar 7, 2014   |  Reply
Manoa Kahuna
I watched it last night and thought the quirky characters were interesting and the 'killer' was chilling.
Mar 4, 2014   |  Reply
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