Season 1, Episode 1
Air date April 3, 2011
Written by Veena Sud
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Episode Guide
"The Cage"

"Pilot" is the first episode of the first season of The Killing.


In Seattle Washington, Detective Sarah Linden puts her move to Sonoma on hold to investigate one last case - the murder of teenager Rosie Larsen. Teaming up with newly promoted Detective Stephen Holder, Linden any sign of Rosie. Meanwhile, the Larsen family begins to panic over Rosie's disappearance and city councilman Darren Richmond's mayoral campaign looks in trouble when Rosie's body is discovered in one of the campaign's cars.


A woman takes her morning jog along a park’s jogging path. Her scenes are inter-cut with a night-time flashback of a teenage girl frantically racing through the woods. The girl is being chased by someone with a flashlight and they find her. The morning jog is cut short when Sarah Linden receives a phone call. She rushes to a crime scene, where a bloody trail leads her to a surprise going-away party thrown by co-workers. It's Sarah’s last day as a Seattle, Washington homicide detective. At the police station, Sarah packs her personal items and meets her replacement, Stephen Holder. Her boss, Lieutenant Oakes, gives her one last assignment, assuring it will be her last, and tells her to bring along Holder. On the way to the crime scene, Holder relates his previous work as a narc for the county police. At the crime scene, they are shown what evidence that has been discovered thus far: a bloody pink sweater and Stanley Larsen’s ATM card. No body has been found, so Sarah decides that the sex crimes unit should instead be investigating. Holder relents, thinking the Larsen name should be checked out.

Stan Larsen stops by his home while working to fix a dishwasher that is constantly breaking. His wife, Mitch, again mentions their daughter Rosie’s plans to attend college out of state. The mother is for the idea, the father against it. Sarah and Holder later arrive at the Larsen home, where Mitch says that she and her husband spent the weekend camping out of cell-phone range. After noticing a pink bicycle in their garage, Sarah asks Mitch if she has a daughter. Mitch tells Sarah and Holder that Rosie went to a Halloween dance on Friday. Rosie had told her that “only freshmen wore costumes” and wore a pink sweater. After taking a call from the school, Mitch learns that Rosie wasn't with Sterling over the weekend and hasn't been seen since the dance. While Mitch is on the phone, Sarah peeks into Rosie’s room, which is decorated with a butterfly theme.

Meanwhile, Darren Richmond, a Seattle city councilman and mayoral candidate, visits an outdoor mausoleum. Later, upon arriving at City Hall, he announces to campaign manager Jamie Wright and lead advisor Gwen Eaton that Councilwoman Ruth Yitanes will endorse him, which could seal an election victory. At Fort Washington High, Richmond and his rival, mayor Lesley Adams, are about to address a student assembly. Sarah arrives and suggests canceling the assembly, to allow the police to investigate Rosie's disappearance. Richmond agrees, angering Adams. At campaign headquarters, Jamie urges Richmond to take advantage of Rosie's disappearance, but the candidate refuses to cooperate. After hearing that Adams knew about Yitanes’ endorsement, Richmond asks Jamie and Gwen if a staff member is leaking information. Not long after, he receives a phone call regarding a reporter's inquiries into a rendezvous that only few people on his staff know about.

At their apartment, Stan asks Mitch about Jasper Ames, who has been involved with Rosie. Mitch tells him that Jasper and Rosie had broken up. Stan later confronts Rosie's friend Sterling, who tells him that Rosie is with Jasper. Stan calls Mitch with the news. Oakes calls Sarah to tell her that Rosie has been found at Jasper's and halts the investigation. Sarah is skeptical, since no one has spoken directly to Rosie, and stays at the crime scene. However, the reported burial site uncovers only a doll and she leaves the site. While preparing to leave the crime scene, Sarah sees three people with fishing poles walking along a fire road and wonders where they're headed. Holder offers a map showing a lake nearby. As night falls, a crane hoists a black car out of the lake.

Stan bursts into the Ames' weekend home. Jasper protests, but Stan charges into the bedroom, only to find a middle-aged woman in the bed. Stan calls Mitch to tell her that Rosie wasn't at Jasper's house and that he's now heading to Discovery Park, where the pink sweater was found. With Mitch still on the phone, he approaches two police vehicles blocking the road. He's too far away to see anything, when Sarah has the retrieved car's trunk popped. The body of a teenage girl is found inside. Sarah approaches to tell Stan, but her face confirms his suspicion that Rosie is dead. He screams, as Mitch listens helplessly on the phone. Holder informs Sarah that they checked the plates on the car, which belongs to the Richmond campaign. As police photograph the body in the trunk, Sarah notices the girl is wearing a butterfly necklace.


  • A pink, blood-stained sweater is found at Discovery Park, belonging to Rosie.
  • An ATM card under Stan Larsen is found at Discovery Park, lost by Rosie the night of her murder.
  • The last time the Larsen family saw their daughter alive was Friday night, before the school dance.
  • Rosie's dead body was in the trunk of a car connected to the Richmond campaign.


Main CastEdit

Supporting CastEdit

Guest Stars


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