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Joel Kinnaman plays homicide detective Stephen Holder in AMC's twisted and brooding crime drama "The Killing."

AMC's drama "The Killing" is one of those series that has proven oddly decisive.

With a loyal pack of viewers cheering its return for a third season, others had written off the show after its first season finale.

The dark, twisted and brooding program, based on the hit Danish TV series "Forbrydelsen," follows the career highs and lows of Seattle homicide detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, played with fierce and unflinching brilliance by Mirelle Enos and Joel Kinnaman.

While the first season, which premiered in April 2011, met with rapturous approval from critics and fans, failure to resolve the mystery of who killed teenager Rosie Larsen by the season's end sent viewers fleeing in droves.

After a ratings dip in Season 2, AMC cancelled the show, but, in a rare move, responded to the outcry of a core of 1.8 million viewers who wanted the crime drama back on the air.

Debuting on June 2, series creator Veena Sud made no bones about it: This time around, the central mystery of a serial killer preying on Seattle's subculture of homeless teens would be wrapped up by the season's end.

It's one of several lessons the production team seems to have learned, along with the introduction of some much-needed humor.

With five episodes already aired, Season 3 has seen a spike in ratings.

It's again a joy, albeit a perverse one, to see Enos and Kinnaman as unlikely crime-fighting partners. Their addiction to their jobs mirrors the addiction fans have with this at times difficult-to-digest show, and both give Emmy-worthy performances.

"The Killing" may struggle with its portrayal of conventional, TV-required relationships (Linden and Holder both have love interests who seem like half-heartedly developed necessities), but it again excels at the more unconventional and wounded relationships constituting its core. A love triangle featuring a standout performance by Bex Taylor-Klaus, as the tough-as-nails tomboy Bullet, is particularly arresting.

Even better is veteran actor Peter Skarsgaard, playing death row inmate Ray Seward, who's giving the most chilling portrayal of his varied career.

Despite the frequent use of teens in its plotlines, "The Killing" is not for children. Even adult viewers may find some of its depictions of violence hard to stomach.

But, for those willing to pay the hefty price, it's a series well worth the time and torment.

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