Salamander: Further Appraisal

An unsurprisingly disposable wife

Two further episodes of Salamander were broadcast last night, taking up to the halfway point of the series, and I wanted just to record a couple of thoughts to supplement my piece last week.

I said that the worst thing about the programme was that it would never do anything to surprise me and – SPOILER ALERT – it totally didn’t surprise me with the ending of episode 6. Frankly, was anyone going to be the least bit surprised that there was a car bomb in Gerardi’s new, snazzy car, and that it would go off with his wife behind the wheel, killing her but not him?

In the first week of the series, there was a Guardian interview with writer Ward Hulselmans, contrasting his work with the Scandi-dramas, and with some disdain. “In Belgium they reached a very small public, they were scheduled late in the evening. They were very serious, very dark. I write for a big audience.” Well, Mynheer Huselmans, they don’t give their audience the kind of tired cliches you’ve been trotting out for us so far.

To be fair, the series did manage to avoid one cliche in episode 6. Karin Dasenberg made it increasingly clear that she wanted to shag Gerardi in a pretty enthusiastic manner. Gerardi had saved himself for the moment by agreeing to work for the secret, state-preservation cell, P9, a name chosen presumably for the echoes of the infamous Italian Maonic Lodge, P2. They’d told him about Sarah’s infidelity with Cassimon, and they encouraged him to fuck Karin’s brains out, to keep her onside.

Gerardi went as far as getting Karin’s tits out (a brave performance by actress Ann Ceurvels, who is no longer young) before deciding he couldn’t go through with it, that he loved his wife too much to cheat on her. The maverick detective doesn’t shag around: well, I never. Though it’s just another part of establishing Gerardi as the only moral person in this entire affair.

Incidentally, there was more nudity on display in episode 5, from the rather younger Sura Dohnke, playing Sabrina, a casual pick-up of Joachim, the bank robbery leader, who discovers that he’s not what he seems and is promptly murdered for it. A direct steal from The Day of the Jackal, the Jackal and Colette de Montpellier (Huselmana even steals the method, strangulation).

And, having returned to this subject, let me also say that I find Filip Peeter’s almost-emotionless portrayal of Gerardi to be exceedingly dull, leading to the series having a lifeless feel to it.

Nevertheless, I’ve started so I’ll finish, much as I did with that heap of shit, The Tunnel. Mynheer Huselmams is already writing a second series, so I’m mildly curious as to what he’s going to leave by way of set-up, but he really is a dull writer, without an original idea in him to support that self-aggrandising, “I write for big audiences.”

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