Published on October 7th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
Athena Karkanis: The Real Revelation in AMC’s ‘Low Winter Sun’
In the midst of the fall 2013 television season cranking up and cult favorite series like Breaking Bad and Dexter coming to an end in recent weeks, you may have missed another show altogether. AMC’s gritty police offering Low Winter Sun wrapped its first season on Sunday night and while it hasn’t been a perfect experiment, there are some very bright spots in the new series — namely acting.
The star of the series was unquestionably British actor Mark Strong, who makes a strong case (pun intended!) to play Lex Luthor in the next Superman flick. Strong plays the show’s central character, Detective Frank Agnew, an honest cop who murders a fellow officer in the pilot’s opening minutes. The slain officer had it coming, as we learn throughout the season but it doesn’t make Agnew’s life easier in simultaneously covering his tracks and playing lead investigator of the crime.
As Agnew was aided in the murder, Strong’s performance is helped by fellow Brit Lennie James who slays his performance as unscrupulous cop Joe Geddes. He, like most of his brethren at the Detroit Police Department, is a dirty character who’s too busy looking out for number one to really focus on putting bad guys away. Despite these two outstanding lead performances in the series, it’s another cast member that left me completely floored.
Canadian actress Athena Karkanis is destined to become the breakout star of Low Winter Sun, with a performance that is so subtle it doesn’t hit you until a few episodes in. Karkanis plays Dani Kahlil, or as Detroit’s less PC residents call her, “that Chaldean cop”. Kahlil represents an archetype that is needed on modern police dramas — the clean, by-the-books female detective who has more balls than most of her male counterparts. Like Sonja Sohn’s brilliant turn as Kima Greggs in HBO’s The Wire, Karkanis’s character is an ass-kicker, but with more of a feminine touch.
The intensity of James is counterbalanced by the quiet power of Karkanis. She’s a beautiful woman whose exotic look stands out in stark contrast to the dingy backdrop of the Motor City. Kahlil is meant to stand as a beacon of what’s right in a cast full of characters just looking for their next excuse to veer off the right path.
Low Winter Sun would have made an excellent miniseries but I wonder if it has potential as a long-running series. The crossroads at which we meet these characters is so grim that any other conflicts the writers try to invent for them will seem dull in comparison. However, this cast has some serious talent and Karkanis is one I expect to see on the big screen soon.