Is it possible to find an ideal career path without the job taking over your life? What happens when danger lurked too close to home? That's part of the premise behind the new A&E series "Those Who Kill" that had two people taking their profession of hunting down murderers several steps too far. Sure, the results may have been done before in one form or another; but the performances and the execution still made it worth watching nonetheless.
"Those Who Kill" followed Catherine Jensen (Chloe Sevigny) who was recently promoted homicide detective that was looking to understand how serial killers thought and operated to do her job better. She turned to forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer (James D'Arcy) for help in being able and learning how to look beyong the usually obvious facts in murder cases. Catherine also had a reasonable explanation for visiting the sometimes professor during one of his classes because she was looking for some insight into a murder case where there were few clues and even fewer answers. With Schaeffer's help, Catherine was able to learn that the crime involved in a serial killer that liked to turn his female victims into his own personal collection of mummies. Unfortunately, both Catherine and Schaeffer had personal baggage that could ruin their partnership before it even began. Schaeffer had an unpleasant history with Catherine's boss Frank Bisgaard (James Morrison) where his judgment came into question, which Bisgaard hasn't gotten over yet. Bisgaard also seemed to pick up on the fact that Schaeffer sometimes got too obsessed with figuring out killers that he picked up some dark behavior for a while, such as leaving Catherine locked in a box a lot longer than he should have. Catherine's secret involved finding out the truth about what happened to her brother when he supposedly went missing many years ago. She turned to D'Arcy to find answers in her own private investigation of the crime. Will Catherine and Schaeffer be able to trust each other long enough to solve their regular case load as well?
In terms of questions, the show asked a few important ones that mostly involved the behavior of the two main characters. A prime example would be to examine the beginning of the premiere when Sevigny's Catherine breaks into her stepfather's house. The show's opening minute made it appear to be that Sevigny was going to murder someone in a matter of seconds, which didn't really happen in the end. D'Arcy's character made viewers shudder because he appeared to be harboring a huge secret and was less than willing to share the truth with anyone. Sevigny and D'Arcy excelled at making viewers wonder if their characters were worth rooting for or running from the hill to avoid in a dark alley. D'Arcy's character seemed to have a tendency to keep overly obsessed with his work in a way that it would be interesting to see him fold under the constant pressure. He also made viewers wonder if he was a serial killer himself, but Schaeffer sometimes seemed to be sympathizing with killers a little too much that he sounded very close to being one too. The mystery of Schaeffer's true nature made viewers wonder if Sevigny's Catherine would be investigating D'Arcy's character now or much later. Of course, that depends on what Sevigny's character will be doing in the future to solve her own private mystery. The weekly cases held some level of interest, but the personal interaction between Sevigny's Catherine and D'Arcy's Schaeffer made those cases exciting enought to watch live. Unfortunately, the show's only flaw was the acting didn't always match the episode's story quality and the supporting cast was barely uses at all for the time being. The series needed a dynamic enough villain to pop in and out of the show, while still being realistic to not make people suspicious too soon. Fingers crossed that the villain will last longer than the next episode. Only time will tell if that's the case.
As for breakout performances, Sevigny and D'Arcy led the pack because their characters were the largest focus in the series premiere and gave strong enough performances to make them unforgettable. Sevigny's Catherine was embodied to be a tough as nails detective by day and a very damaged soul by night that needed to cut herself to relieve the pain she felt. She made Catherine a character that took every part of her job too seriously that she only trusted a few work colleagues. Sevigny also added another level of mystery that made Catherine a wild card on so many levels based on the fact that no character or viewer knew what they were thinking. Her best scene came towards the end of the premiere when she was able to catch a killer, but she almost sacrificed herself in the process. Without uttering a word in a brief on-screen moment, Sevigny expressed her character's shock and fear of being turned into a victim before switching up into becoming a survivor instead. It should be interesting when future episodes start to flesh out Catherine's background to explain why she had become so obsessed with finding out the truth. A few flashbacks could explain things a lot clearer down the line. D'Arcy's performance as the quietly dangerous Schaeffer made him seem interesting and a little disturbing at the same time. He always managed to bring out the dark side in most of his characters by expressing an ulterior motive in his eyes and with an extra gleam in his eyes for reasons only known to the character. D'Arcy's strongest scene came towards the end of the episode when a simple package managed to explain a lot and also asked more questions at the same time. The only way to find out those answers would be to tune in to see what happens next.
"Those Who Kill" premieres on March 3rd and airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on A&E.
Verdict: Sevigny gave a very strong performance in the premiere as a woman pushed to her breaking point. Let's hope that the rest of the season builds upon the same momentum gathered from the premiere.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)