The Killing The Killing

You'd think they'd killed somebody.

After a season crammed with multiple suspects and red herrings, AMC's moody cop drama The Killing signed off without revealing who strangled teen beauty Rosie Larsen, and many fans and critics cried foul.

The producers were blindsided by the reaction. "We were very surprised at the level of expectation the viewers had for closure," says executive producer Veena Sud. "We never meant to mislead anybody. This is a deeply complex, character-driven story, not simply a whodunit. And it's based on the original Danish series Forbrydelsen (The Crime), which took two seasons to tell the story." For the fans who might not have heard: You'll have to wait until the Season 2 finale to learn who killed Rosie.

On the Vancouver set, the cast stands squarely behind the controversial cliff-hanger. Billy Campbell, whose morally ambiguous councilman Darren Richmond was shot and critically wounded in the finale's last minutes, blames the brouhaha on "two or three bloggers who just went ballistic. Would a true critic of storytelling react that way in the intermission of a symphony? You're incensed because by intermission, you don't know the finale?"

The Killing 2.0 begins immediately after the shooting of Richmond, the case's major suspect, by Belko Royce (Brendan Sexton III), an unstable employee of the victim's parents, Stan (Brent Sexton) and Mitch (Michelle Forbes). Already grieving after choosing her job over her fiancé, homicide detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is further devastated now that she's learned her cop partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) faked a photo to frame the councilman. "It means that he's implicated in something rotten," says Enos, who earned an Emmy nomination for her unsparingly intense portrayal of a driven cop and single mother. "It's betrayal at the deepest level, pulling the rug out from under Sarah. She's very isolated in the first episode."

If last year's suspects — Rosie's boyfriend, a teacher, the councilman — pointed to sex gone lethal, this year's crop expands to a widening political conspiracy with corrupt cops as well as shadowy members of Congress and shady billionaires. "There's a reason we're introducing all these levels of power," says Sud. "There are bigger forces involved in Rosie's murder than we thought."

As crew members create the downpour that has become the Seattle-set drama's visual signature, the mood inside the rented house that serves as the home of Gwen Eaton (Kristin Lehman), Richmond's campaign manager and lover, is as sunny as such a dark show allows. That may be because Vesper, Enos' adorable toddler daughter with husband Alan Ruck, is paying a visit.

The scene, however, which will air in this week's second of two back-to-back episodes, is filled with aching sorrow. Linden is questioning a distraught Gwen, who is racked with guilt because she admitted to the cops that Richmond wasn't with her when Rosie was killed. The detective shares some of the blame: "Sarah has to deal with the fact that she's responsible for Richmond being badly hurt," says Enos. "She's the one who fixated on him, which led to a chain of events where a possibly innocent man has been shot."

On this noirish show, everyone has something to feel guilty about. And something to hide. "A lot of this season is about secrets of the past," Sud hints. "Sarah, the Larsens, Richmond, his staff, all have secrets, and under the microscope of this murder investigation, they come back to haunt them."

As for dirty cop Holder, his level of complicity in the plot to frame Richmond will be revealed this week. "He's a character who's looking for redemption and will go to some very dark places in search of that," Sud reveals. And Linden will put him through hell. "Sarah is not happy," says Kinnaman. "She's a small but ferocious woman!" (Homeland's Marin Ireland joins the cast this season as Holder's sister.)

Stan Larsen's violent past with the Polish mob is also uncovered, as he plays single dad to his sons, while his unmoored wife is on the road trying to cope with her grief. "The question for Stan is: could the things that he did almost 20 years ago have led to the murder of his daughter?" says Sud. Another question: Will the enraged father, who has already used violence to exact revenge on the wrong man, turn back to his dangerous past associates?

All your questions will be answered this season, the producer promises. "Everything we teased last season that's potentially part of the world of the victim or her family will be reexamined." That means a circling back to the world of the casino, Rosie's creepy boyfriend Jasper (Richard Harmon) and the earlier homicide case that drove Linden to the edge — and still haunts her.

The actors swear they're still in the dark about who killed Rosie. "It's just so awful that anybody closely tied to the case could be the person who had done it," muses Enos. "I think I'm going to be a little heartbroken. Sarah is the only person who it really couldn't be — though personally I don't think it would be Holder, or Stan — because of his devastation. Anybody else is fair game." Let the game begin again!

The Killing premieres Sunday, April 1 at 8/7c on AMC.

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