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5 March 2012updated 27 Sep 2015 4:01am

Sarah Lund vs Carrie Mathison

It's the age of the troubled female detective. So who's the best?

By Sophie Elmhirst

Two makes a trend, right? After the winningly unsmiling Sarah Lund in The Killing, Carrie Mathison is the latest troubled female investigator on our screens. It’s still early days for Claire Danes’s Mathison – we don’t know if she will properly lose it a la Lund and get demoted to being a traffic policeman or whatever Lund was doing in that rainy Danish seaport, but we’ve seen enough of Danes’s wide eyes and nervous chatter to know that her trajectory will be anything but smooth. So, how do they compare:

Risk-taking

So far Mathison has managed to get a vulnerable source killed off and has been illegally filming an US marine hostage in his own home. Risky. Lund’s risks similarly involve her taking matters into her own hands, but that usually involves her wandering around a deserted warehouse looking for a psychopath with only a faltering torch for company. Also risky: a draw.

Lack of empathy and assorted psychological conditions

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These ladies are troubled. Lund is troubled in a below-the-radar, emotionally stunted, no personal life sort of way. Mathison is troubled in a more slap-you-round-the-face obvious way of pill-popping, exaggerated facial expressions and talking extra-fast. Her condition is unspecificed, but she has “unstable” written all over that well made-up face. Neither seems to care much that their lives are entirely dysfunctional and lacking any kind of human intimacy – but given her deep-seated issues plus the lack of a convenient sibling who is a medical professional able to dispense drugs, Lund has to win this one.

Deduction skills

With Lund, you knew when she was Having A Thought because the music would get all tinkly and she would get a faraway look in her eyes before going off on her own without telling anyone where she was going. Lund’s intuition and powers of deduction are legendary. Mathison, so far, has one mammoth hunch and very little evidence – and while Lund takes her cues from otherwise overlooked actual cues, Mathison is basing her theories on her own giant case of guilt-fuelled paranoia. Not promising. Point to Lund.

Family life

Lund has a long-suffering, neglected mother; Mathison has a long-suffering, neglected sister. A draw.

Famous clothing items

Nothing Mathison has worn so far comes even close to the woollen iconography of the Lund jumper. Clear win for Lund.

FINAL SCORE: 5 – 2 Lund. The Dane triumphs! (Over Danes. Sorry. Couldn’t resist).