“Killer Women” doesn’t waste time. Within minutes of its first episode, a woman commits murder. In this case, the victim is a San Antonio assistant district attorney on her wedding day. After the killer shoots the bride, runs out of the church and jumps into a getaway car, a few of the wedding guests chase her, pull out their handguns and start shooting. It’s an unexpected and almost funny “don’t mess with Texas” kind of moment.
We quickly learn that the killer works in a gym owned by the groom and she called him nine times before the ceremony. She’s a woman scorned. Or is she? That’s what Texas Ranger Molly Parker (Tricia Helfer) wants to know, much to the annoyance of San Antonio Police Lieutenant Guillermo Salazar (Vic Trevino), who doesn’t hide his dislike for her. Since the crime, capture and confession of the suspect takes place within the first few minutes of this hourlong drama, I’m not giving much away by telling you that Molly could be on to something.
What she’s on to isn’t difficult to figure out which is the first problem with this new series from ABC. The cases on cop shows don’t have to be complex to be entertaining (see “Hawaii Five-O”) but they do need to keep you guessing for more than a few minutes. Most of the story surrounding the first of the show’s “eight killers in eight weeks” is familiar.
Without much of a mystery to the first killer-of-the-week scenario, the episode needs to rely on Molly and her relationships to keep it interesting. This is the show’s second problem. Molly is likeable but is a character who doesn’t have enough at stake. She is separated from her state senator husband who refuses to sign divorce papers and has a loving relationship with her brother and his family. She is having an affair with DEA Agent Dan Winston (Marc Blucas) and generally has the support of her boss, Company Commander Luis Zea (Alex Fernandez). All are relationships that offer little to get excited about.
What could be more intriguing but also fails to deliver is that she is the only female ranger in her unit and has to deal with law enforcement colleagues who are eager to see her fail. Her workplace interactions are not without tension, but they are without a satisfying conflict.
Tenacious and determined, Molly bends the rules in the bride killer case, but her choice is admirable when it should feel troubling. It’s also risky but not enough to convince you that she will cross the line. Later in the episode, she reveals a secret about herself to the killer which is meant to add a layer of vulnerability. It’s not unsuccessful but giving her a few more flaws that aren’t sympathetic would make her toughness feel more genuine and a little dangerous. After all, this is a show called “Killer Women” and Molly is a woman with a gun.
Page 2 of 2 - “Killer Women” premieres Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.
Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.