The slow killing of the American way of life


This series ran over four seasons. The first two had one main central story and the last two also had one central story. At times some episodes had some side stories and each year, hence half a two-year cycle, may have some unifying side stories. This is modern in the field of mysteries and thrillers, but some writers do it in this field, at times profusely. This series is just slightly more extreme because it is rare when one episode has some kind of self-contained plot, and when it is so it is also an illusion because that side closed plot plays a role in the wider story.

The second element is that this series is taking place in Seattle, Washington, and as such concentrates on problems that are typical of this city sustaining the suspense of stories that are more general, and the first originality is the rain and it is hammered from time to time onto us: “I hate the rain.” The whole series is concentrating on the killing of girls with an important secondary plot in the fourth seasons concentrating on a boys’ military academy. Another trait is the hardly ever possible and happy relations between parents and children. The two main cops, Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, are such abandoned kids, abandoned to foster homes, to drugs, and even to street life. In fact, the third and fourth seasons are centered on the mass serial killing of teenage street girls, underage girls who live in the street and survive by all types of little businesses like prostitution, drugs and petty thefts. Killing in such a “fauna” is common, so the disappearance of more than thirty girls over ten or fifteen years can go literally unseen.

The first two seasons concentrate on two subjects that are connected: the election of a new mayor who gets mixed up in a complete imbroglio around the killing of teenage girl who had just decided to leave her family in unclear conditions, on one hand, and on the other hand the Indians of the reservation on some island and their casino. The Indian problem and the corruption that goes around the mayor, the City Council, the casino, the reservation, etc. is incredible. That’s the political and social dimension of the first two seasons.

The last two seasons are centered on the corruption of the police in Seattle and the impossibility for anyone who believes in justice, in the fourteenth amendment, fair and equal treatment and protection for all by all public services, including of course the police and justice, to remain in the police force without being little by little ruined, rotten, soiled, etc. The practice of military academies for male teenagers is also a way some wealthy families have to either get rid of the pain these teenagers may be or plainly submit them to some painful, ruthless, punishing education that will turn them into canon flesh and it will curb their desire to kill into killing on order within the legal frame of some kind of authority, including civilians in military operations in foreign countries. Just read my lips.

This gives the series a rather slow rhythm but it seems one more time to be common in the standard and common literature in this genre nowadays, like Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, for one example. In Mr. Mercedes’ trilogy Stephen King tried to deal with such a thriller but he avoids that slow rhythm by using an electronic gadget (a game console) for a “master mind” who is able to more or less interface himself onto the consoles via the Internet and a computer to manipulate the users who have been selected by him to be led to suicide. That’s only the plot of the third volume. You need to read the first two to see the at times hectic rhythm of the story.

So we have the slow social-oriented plot à la J.K Rowling, aka Robert Galbraith, but we do not have the sinister fast-running magic of Stephen King, though we have multiple bodies that are cut up into pieces or severely maimed by the killer à la Dexter.

The last five minutes of the very last episode links up the first two seasons to the last two seasons. It is slightly artificial, a little bit sentimental and the last brick you needed to build the Golden Calf of corruption or the first stone you need to stone that same Golden Calf to death. You can then have a slice of that beef and drown it under red ketchup.




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store



Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP