* Please note this article contains potential spoilers for all three series of Forbrydelsen.
Having a strong, smart female lead at its heart in Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl) is one of the reasons for the success of Forbrydelsen The Killing. The series is good, the acting first class but the plot lines aren’t groundbreaking, following the traditional codes of thriller writing, especially in series 3 which calls upon plot devices seen in previous installments. Throughout the series, Lund puts her job and search for justice first, to the price of personal sacrifices.
She follows her instinct. Lund is smart but her gut often knows something before her brain can articulate it, and she accepts it. Her extraordinary ability to solve the most complicated cases stems from her gift for linking clues no one else thinks of and her taking her reasoning further than anyone else.
“She’s at peace with herself”. In a March 2011 interview with The Guardian, Sofie Gråbøl explains she picked her Faroe Island sweater because “It tells of a person who doesn’t use her sexuality – that’s a big point. Lund’s so sure of herself she doesn’t have to wear a suit.” She’s smart, she knows it, she’s not afraid of showing it and she doesn’t feel the need to fit in.
She’s unfazed by power. Lund has a gift for working cases linked to powerful Danish men, yet whether she’s dealing with a mayoral candidate (season 1) or a shipping magnate (season 3), she always makes them feel the law is above their influence and millions. To hammer the point home, the Forbrydelsen writers ensure a couple of corrupt policemen feature in the plot.
Her EQ is all over the place. Part of this not caring how she fits in means she doesn’t to show emotions, which puts her at odds with the victim’s parents in series 1. On an EQ-i Model of Emotional Intelligence, she’d rate low on emotional expression, impulse control but high on self-regard, independence and reality testing. Lund’s tendency to run away from feelings is a subplot of series 3, in her dealing with her son, her unfinished love story with her new Special Branch partner and the suggestion she’s still haunted by the death of her partner from series 1 (episode 4).
She disobeys orders and lies to get her way, but only if it’s the right thing to do. Lund’s goal is always the truth, and even though her means are never fully illegal, she often snoops beyond her mandate, particularly when in a war zone (series 2).
She cares little about consequences, in a way only a TV character can. I wouldn’t advocate going for a midnight walk with someone you suspect of being a repeated killer (series 2), or turning up at a morgue if you think a kidnapper might use it as a killing ground (series 3) but it seems to work for her.
She doesn’t know fear, whether it’s the fear of losing people or the fear of her own death.
She sticks to her values, a trait shared by the women in the show at the end of series 3, whether it’s killing a murderer who would otherwise walk free, wanting to reveal dodgy political and police dealings or wishing for more family time.