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AMC's The Killing returns with some explaining to do (and does so convincingly

Detectives Stephen Holder and Sarah Linden of The Killing. AMC photo

Some denizens of the TV critics kingdom (but not your humble serf) virtually set themselves on fire over the way AMC's The Killing ended its first season.

Wrote one: "This will be the last review I write of The Killing, because this will be the last time I watch The Killing. Because I have no interest in going forward with a show that treats its audience this way."

Wrote another: "I hated the season finale of The Killing with the burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns." And furthermore, "The Killing has killed off any interest I had in ever watching the show again. That is one fact I can state conclusively."

Their missives recently were recycled in a brief
New York Times Magazine piece headlined "Can The Killing Make a Comeback? Veena (executive producer Veena Sud) Versus the Superviewers."

What got them so torched? Well, The Killing ended its first season by raising new questions about who killed teenager Rosie Larsen rather than providing a cut-and-dried final answer. And its closing scene also raised the ugly possibility that unconventional detective Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) had gone over to the dark side after working hand-in-hand with stout-hearted detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) for the entire run of Season 1.

Plus, principal suspect Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), who had been running for mayor, looked doomed to be on the receiving end of a point-blank bullet after being arrested just minutes earlier.

I'll admit to being a bit put off by that Season 1 ending. But nowhere near to the point of renouncing the show and all its evil, manipulative ways while at the same time pledging to not get fooled again -- ever. It was only the first season, after all. So cool it with the "10,000 white-hot suns" intensity, even if it was loads of fun to read.

Season 2 begins right where the first one left off, and with a two-hour opener (
Sunday, April 1st at 7 p.m. central).

Executive producer Veena Sud and AMC programming executive Joel Stillerman have sent an accompanying letter that includes what amounts to a one-sentence mea culpa: "As we've said before, we learned a lot with season one and the reaction generated by the finale." They also pledge that Rosie's killer will be definitively revealed in this season's final episode.

So if any amends were really needed, has The Killing done a good job of making them? From this perspective they've done a pretty great job of raising new questions, resolving others and above all, explaining how and why detective Holder acted as he did.

Then again, how much more can be said? AMC, as it did with last Sunday's two-hour re-launch of Mad Men, has issued an accompanying spoiler alert with a six-point of list of details that are supposed to be off-limits to reviewers.

Some TV writers more or less ignored the Mad Men request from creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner. This time around, I don't think prospective viewers will mind being apprised of a couple of basic details that should be no-brainers anyway.

No. 1, Councilman Richmond in fact is shot. No. 2, the search is on for the real killer by the end of Sunday's re-launch. If that weren't the case, there'd be no reason for this season.

Enos and Kinnaman remain terrific in their central roles of detectives Linden and Holder. And the latter in due time begins to smell some rats.

Other than that, it continues to rain a lot in rarely sunny Seattle. But The Killing certainly isn't all wet in its revelation about what Councilman Richmond was really doing on the night of Rosie's brutal murder. In fact it turns out to be pretty damned plausible, giving credence to the way Season 1 ended while also restoring any lost faith in The Killing's storytelling prowess.

We'll now get to see if the entire enterprise can hold up convincingly for another full season's worth of false leads, dead-ends and a believable apprehension in the end.

For now, The Killing has made a very good re-start. Perhaps even the "intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns" can at some point be cooled to a mere meteor shower.

GRADE: A-minus