All things considered, perhaps bringing The Killing (* * 1/2 out of four, AMC, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET) back on April Fools' Day wasn't AMC's best idea.
After all, it's hard to name a series that left its audience feeling more tricked, angered and disappointed than The Killing did at the end of its first season. Many viewers felt they had been promised a resolution to the central "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" mystery and were peeved when they didn't get one.
Note that any sympathy for that anger is limited to viewers, who have a right to take shows as they find them and the network presents them. It does not extend to some of the critics leading the charge, who should reasonably have been expected to do the two minutes of research needed to discover that the Danish show on which The Killing was based took two seasons of 10 episodes each to solve the murder.
Still, having been accused of misleading its fans, The Killing is promising fuller disclosure: We will not find out who killed Rosie Larsen until the end of this second season.
Sunday's return brings Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos, still good, if as monochrome as her show) back to a case she thought she had left behind. Now she's more isolated than ever, distrustful of former partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and out of favor with boss Lt. Oakes (Garry Chalk).
Linden now knows Councilman Richmond (Billy Campbell, one of the show's best assets) has been set up. But, as is quickly pointed out to her, just because he was framed doesn't mean he didn't do it. And there you have the focus of the two-hour return: Who framed Richmond? And is he innocent, or just not yet proven guilty?
The good news is that you will get answers. The bad news is that they don't so much advance the story as circle around it, which may be the real reason behind the disenchantment with a series that had seemed so promising.
The problem wasn't so much the cliffhanger as what led up to it: a string of weekly red herrings, suspects introduced only to be shot down, that had begun to test fans' patience. We expect shows like The Killing to delay their resolution; we just don't expect the delaying tactics to be so obvious.
For now, the suspicion remains that there just isn't enough story to sustain 26 episodes (which may be why the Danes told it in 20). Let's hope that proves to be wrong.
This is one instance in which it would be nice to be fooled.