Amid the indignation triggered by “The Killing’s” first-season finale, many fans and critics accused the producers of emulating Charlie Brown’s Lucy and snatching away the football — promising closure and instead delivering more mystery. The question now is whether having come this far, the complainers will be willing to go a little further. While the two-hour premiere continues sprinkling clues like a Northwest drizzle, garnished with red herrings, one suspects enough people were drawn in by the show’s plodding pace — and still want to know who killed Rosie Larsen — to prevent a wholesale exodus or lingering repercussions.
Shrewdly, season two picks up almost exactly where the first left off, with detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) realizing she’s been potentially snookered by her partner Holder (the wonderfully off-kilter Joel Kinnaman), prompting her arrest of a councilman (Billy Campbell) in the midst of a mayoral race. But the congressman has been shot by a family friend (Brendan Sexton III) of the murdered girl, again leaving the show to pursue three parallel, often overlapping tracks: The cops, the campaign and the grieving family.
The second season also yields additional hints of a larger apparatus at work, though one winces at the notion of the show — which captured viewers in part by daring, in an age of rapid-fire procedurals, to chronicle the drudgery of police work — unearthing some vast, sweeping conspiracy. As it is, there’s a pretty constant presence of a braying press in these initial hours, which doubtless had to be somewhat cathartic for showrunner Veena Sud after the drubbing she received from some critics.
Stripped of such peripheral concerns, though, “The Killing” remains compelling, and the writers (led by Sud, adapting the show from a Danish series) are adept at overcoming the stodgy pace by dangling tantalizing clues near each hour’s end, creating a strong pull to see what transpires next.
AMC is now promising a definitive resolution at the end of the second season, which offers plenty of time to further tease out the case, and in the bigger scheme of things, doesn’t really represent an unreasonable amount of time. (A conceptual precedent would be Steven Bochco’s “Murder One,” which initially promised to follow a single murder trial over 22 episodes.)
There’s no denying AMC handled the finale and its aftermath poorly from a public-relations standpoint, though some critical denunciations were clearly excessive, and the shrillest voices probably aren’t representative of the wider audience. If nothing else, season two ought to provide an interesting case study of that theory.
Unlike whoever murdered Rosie, “The Killing’s” crime wasn’t a capital offense. And while deferred gratification isn’t necessarily tailor-made to today’s have-it-now culture, for those with the patience required by a slow-motion copshow, there’s still gratification to be found in the show’s closely held secrets.