Whether you wanted it or not, The Killing is back for its third season.
While I was never as overly angry about the series dragging out the Rosie Larsen case for two seasons (although it did seem like an odd choice given that it was highly implied it would be solved after The Killing Season 1), the actual closure of it in the season two finale, "What I Know," worked and was a positive way to finally solve the mystery.
But was it too little too late? AMC must have felt so because the show suffered the same fate as its title and was cancelled not soon after.
Then, surprisingly, when it seemed the series had been laid to rest for good, it was suddenly revived, revamped and essentially rebooted.
And if the season premiere, "The Jungle; That You Fear the Most," is any indication of what's to come, then bringing back The Killing was worth it.
Any real remnants of the Larsen case are left in the past, although the after effects of Linden moving away from police life and Holder moving up in the world as a more or less reformed rising detective were immediately evident.
While I miss Holder's hoodies, the new shirt, tie and jacket combo still allow the character to exude that cool and charming effortless even with the new getup. He's a changed man, even if you can tell the old version is still there as well.
It's wonderful to note that an actor like Joel Kinnaman can really carry a show, especially as so much of the premiere focused on Holder taking up the new case.
Of course, the first reuniting of Linden and Holder was one to make you smile - from the initial "What up, Linden" to the banter to leaving the case file that harkens back to Linden's past.
Certainly, Linden and Holder can sustain my interest on their own... but this new mystery, this fresh new take, is one that also proves equally interesting, if not more compelling than the previous Larsen investigation.
A lot of that has to do with the fact that at the center of the potential string of gruesome murders (they seem a lot darker than before) is Ray Seward, a man soon to be executed for similar killings that Linden had put him away for.
Peter Sarsgaard is riveting as the convicted inmate delivering a performance that is chillingly quiet and loudly intense. It was definitely a shock watching him bash the man's head into the cell bars; frighting when he called Linden's former partner; and stomach-turning as he described the killing he committed.
And yet, brilliantly, there's a possibility that he's not the actual killer. Or is he?
Sarsgaard allows his character to dip back and forth across the line of evil and yet the potential innocence brings out something even more. Has he simply transformed because of the implications that have been placed on him or is he a crazy sociopath with a penchant for violent death?
Either way, this possible serial killer is one to watch for and a major highlight of the premiere.
Of course, the connection to the past pulls at Linden's emotional strings, along with calling to do what she truly loves (it's not killing cows); the detective work, caring about the victims, and finding true justice surround Linden in such a way that she can't help but start following up leads.
There seems to be something suspicious with her former partner, but for now we've have to wait on how he really fits into it all, especially with Seward.
Interestingly enough, the most important clue is one that's been seen before in past seasons and staring Linden in the face the whole time: the drawing of those creepy woods.
Now, I'm not sure if the picture was retconned (were those two buildings in the back in the original drawing?) or the kid decided to draw another one with the buildings, but the discovery based off the work of art is both horrifying, eerie and a wild way to get the show started. Just the contrast of the red bags to the muted colors that inhabit the world of the rain-soaked Seattle helped really illustrate the significance of Linden's discovery.
And once again, it really makes you question Seward's connection, or if there is some other killer (copycat or not) out there causing the hidden mayhem that's been in the murky waters the whole time.
It only makes you want Linden and Holder to re-team immediately, but like the slow burn this show thrives on, it will probably take a bit before the dynamic duo are fully brought back together.
My only real hesitation on a very positive return for the series lies in the stories surrounding the homeless/runaway kids. The acting is more or less fair and at first some of the dialogue, especially for Bullet, became tiresome. I was glad when Holder grabbed her by the collar of her clothes and laid right back into her.
Yet, over the course of the two hours, I began to feel something for Bullet and the hardships she'd undergone. Sure, her character was a bit over the top and kind of aggressive, but she was slowly gaining ground to where I wouldn't find her so obnoxious.
But WOW to her final scene, which really brought out even further a level of darkness this series looks to be headed. I hope that guy gets his comeuppance for raping her, made even more horrific by the camera panning away and leaving viewers with her emotional cries for help.
I'm a bit curious where the wannabe model fits in, but I guess time will tell for all the connected pieces to fall into place.
Overall, I'm hooked again and wonderfully enough, viewers who may have never seen the past two seasons can easily jump right into the game. It might seem to follow a more standardized version of hunting a serial killer, but with the actors in place, the moody and dark setting to match the tone of the show, and an intriguing mystery combined with dilemmas that are sure to arise, The Killing Season 3 is going to be the best season yet.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.