We’re through four episodes so far of the new season of the Killing Fields and so far Discovery has not failed to deliver.
This season was a big departure for the series. The shift went from Iberville Parish, Louisiana to Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Some of the same elements are there. A frigid cold case. A grizzled and seasoned investigator determined to see it solved. The “young buck” detective that is partnered with them. The seasoned officer sitting in his backyard with a drink at night is still there. It has the same gritty look and feel to the past two seasons – lots of drone shots, and plenty of twists and turns. Discovery has done a good job of keeping the elements of the series in place as it transitions to a new locale. Personally, I miss Rhodie talking about the “raggedy-ass” killers though.
The twists and turns are plentiful. What starts out as the investigation into the brutal murder of Carrie Singer morphs into the two murders that may be connected. We see some of the new technologies in DNA testing, such as M-Vac systems DNA collecting system, and DNA phenotyping (getting a facial reconstruction of a killer from their DNA), being brought into play.
I know some of this is scripted, but it certainly plays out as realistic. Often times investigators start down one trail, only to be seductively lured onto new paths as a result of their efforts. I haven’t bonded much with the key characters just yet – but we are only four episodes in…and frankly, it feels like a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns.
For me, this series is more personal. Two of the victims of the Colonial Parkway Murders (David Knobling and Robin Edwards) were found at the Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge in Isle of Wight County. My daughter and I wrote a book on these serial killings, A Special Kind of Evil. I have been there many times, taking that long, lonely, sometimes eerie, drive on the James River Bridge. It was great for me to see the former Sheriff, Charlie Phelps, in one episode. I interviewed him twice and it was great to associate a face to a voice.
Isle of Wight is a place of contradictions and contrasts. It is isolated, yet very close to numerous cities. Like any rural county, there is a mix of characters and backstories that are starting to emerge in the series. It has been a dumping ground for years for Newport News and other cities. It has a bit of hometown appeal, a dash of redneckiness, and a twist of strangeness that makes it compelling to watch.
If you are not watching Killing Fields – start. You can get caught up On-Demand. It is worth your time if you are a true crime fan. Even if you are not, it is a great view into an active investigation – filmed “real time.” Let’s hope that Discovery’s efforts brings about some convictions in the murders profiled.