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‘The Killing’ promises answers, finally

Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) are detectives “The Killing.”

Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) are detectives on “The Killing.”

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Updated: May 2, 2012 8:07AM

Who killed Rosie Larsen? This was the tag line in an eerie ad campaign used to promote AMC’s “The Killing,” a provocative, moody whodunit revolving around the murder of a Seattle teen.

When season one wrapped in June, that question remained unanswered. And a very vocal portion of the show’s 3 million fans went nothing short of apoplectic. They took to the Internet to unleash their vitriol and decry what they felt amounted to a giant bait and switch — and waste of their TV time.

“The magnitude of it and the strength of the anger, I didn’t expect that,” said Joel Kinnaman, who plays Stephen Holder, a rookie detective whose credibility was thrown into question — as was just about everything else — during the final moments of season one.

As for fans’ frustration, Kinnaman said he understands it. To a point.

“There was a little bit of a marketing mistake,” he said. “It was like everybody was being promised, ‘Tune in for the last episode because then you’ll find out.’ It could have been managed in a different way. We knew all along that we were going to reveal it in the end of the second season.”

The mystery right now is how many viewers will stick around for that second season, which starts Sunday with a two-hour premiere.

I know I will, because few television shows are as addictive as this pensive, wonderfully paced suspenser.

I fell hard for “The Killing’s” abundance of red herrings and twists and turns; they kept me constantly guessing, like a good mystery should. I fell even harder for the flawlessly acted, complex characters, who elevate “The Killing” above others in its genre.

This melancholy show isn’t afraid to take a break from the sleuthing action to dwell on Rosie’s suffering family. It does an exquisite job portraying the crushing grief, pain and anger that can fill the vacuum left by a murder victim.

“Generally speaking in crime drama, you might have one scene with the grieving family and they’re suitably weepy and you never see them again,” said Billy Campbell, who plays mayoral hopeful Darren Richmond. “In this show, it’s a central part. It’s one of the things that makes the show really worthwhile.”

The race for Seattle mayor is an intriguing storyline woven into the larger tapestry of Rosie’s murder. At the end of season one, Richmond gets arrested for the crime. But in a classic “Killing” last-minute twist, we learn that the evidence that sealed Richmond’s fate is bogus. Rosie’s real killer is still out there, and her murder might be part of a much larger conspiracy.

“As intense as the first season was, this season is even more so,” said Campbell (“Once and Again”), who discovered his passion for acting in Chicago. He was studying illustration at the American Academy of Art when a friend took him along to a class at the Ted Liss Studio Actors Workshop.

“It dawned on me that doing the acting thing would be a great deal more fun than sitting by myself at a drawing table the rest of my life,” Campbell said.

Campbell and his cast mates have three more episodes to shoot in Vancouver to round out season two, which creator and writer Veena Sud (“Cold Case”) has promised will end with the answer to that nagging question: Who killed Rosie Larsen?

“We’re all on pins and needles trying to figure out who did it,” Campbell said. “We’ve got a big box on the stage where people are putting slips of paper, betting on who did it.”

“The Killing” is an American adaptation of the popular Danish drama “Forbrydelsen,” or “The Crime.” The Danish version took 20, one-hour episodes spread over two seasons to solve its central murder mystery. The U.S. installment is following a similar pace, with two seasons made up of 13 episodes that last about 45 minutes without commercials. Each episode roughly covers the course of a day, so season two picks up close to two weeks after Rosie’s murder.

“Artistically, we always knew we were telling a story that would take 26 days to complete; the marketing didn’t make that clear, and that’s on us,” said Mireille Enos (“Big Love”), who snagged Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her portrayal of intuitive homicide detective Sarah Linden.

Linden is an internalizing, nicotine gum-chewing single mother whose obsession with Rosie’s case has taken a heavy toll on her personal life. Ironically, Linden is slowly losing her own son, Jack, in her single-minded quest to find out who killed the Larsens’ daughter.

Viewers of the first season might notice that Jack (Liam James) looks more than a day older when season two begins.

“He’s a teenage boy,” Enos laughed. “He’s growing.”

The more important difference between seasons one and two: “Season one was about asking all the questions,” Enos said. “Season two is about finding all the answers.”

“There are no threads that lead nowhere in the second season,” added Kinnaman. “We’re still taking some wrong turns, but even those wrong turns are taking us in the right direction. The patient viewer is really going to get a big reward.”

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