Quasi-Eurocrime: Fortitude – Part 3


Henry Tyson

In case of confusion that I appear to have leapt directly from Part 1 to Part 3 of Sky’s new psychological drama, last week’s premiere was a double-length episode, seen in two parts elsewhere in the world. I am assuming therefore that the UK is getting the series over eleven weeks. There’s no point in looking at the IMDB site, since that has Christopher Eccleston down as appearing in 12 episodes, which would have required more flashbacks than an entire season of Arrow, which tonight’s episode disproved.

A week on, I’m not sure if we’re any further forward in the mystery. The notion that the two miners, Johnny and Jason, might have found a preserved mammoth corpse out in the permafrost has come to the attention of the tentatively-designated ‘Bad Guys’, i.e., Sheriff Dan and Governor Hildur, and they’re having the mysterious tooth analysed to see if that may be true, despite Jason’s casual claims that it’s an elephant’s tooth he’s has stashed away in a box for years and just decided to start carrying around in his pocket, for the hell of it. Yes, he did try to scam oodles of money out of the late Professor Stoddart, just for fun, but it’s fake.

Stoddart didn’t think that: we now know for certain that he did intend to shut down Governor Hildur’s plans for the Glacier Hotel, all because of this, because he left a heart-breaking last voicemail for the grieving, swinging widow Trish. Which Governor Hildur promptly deleted. Fur hilven, Lund!

Meanwhile, DCI Morton, the American copper, is strolling around quietly, investigating things, in the face of the official Fortitude Police Department approach to inter-force co-operation: tell him to fuck off. Although there might be a thawing on the horizon, since the episode ends with a bit of pair-bonding down the pub. However, I suspect that will prove to be a bit of a Norwegian red herring.

Speaking of Sheriff Dan, at least Richard Dormer’s accent stayed in one place this week, dipping neither into the brogue nor the New York twang, though I’m damned if it sounds at all Norwegian to me.

What else? Jason the Miner’s comrade in mammoth-concealing, Johnny, has gotten himself into a terrible funk and is running away into the Arctic night with his ten year old daughter (who’s carrying her rabbit in her rucksack and fretting over the risk of him suffocating). They take a boat down the ice bay, but somebody called Albert apparently won’t lend them a seaplane to the mainland, which was as far as the story got with Johnny, so maybe they’re still out there.

And the self-loathing Frank Sutter, whose enthusiasm for a quick bunk-up with the sexy, short-haired Elena (who is, as you might expect in this corner of the globe, Spanish) is all self-loathing and self-blaming over Liam’s frostbite: that is, until Elena grabs his hand and shoves it up her uncovered snatch, after which contempt for the triviality of his puerile lusts turns in a twinkling to a quick grab and bunk-up (done tastefully, boobs grabbed only through pullover tops). The sound of this drives Sheriff Dan away from Elena’s door and into the arms, metaphorically, of DCI Morton.

No, I still don’t know what to make of this series. The pacing is glacial, which may be appropriate on one level, but is doing nobody any favours. The story edges forward without answering any of the mysteries posed in the opening episode, or setting up any new points of curiosity.

What is good, apart from Sofie Grabol, is the landscape, awesomely big and awesomely white. This at least holds the power to enthrall, and I could have seen a lot more of it this week. On the other hand, nothing good was served by an appallingly clunky mismatch of picture and sound, as Morton calls on Henry Tyson and the soundtrack has him knocking loudly on the door and calling Henry’s name, even as Morton is still on the stairs and nowhere near the door.

Unless an SF theme is to be introduced in later episodes to establish that Morton can move around in time, in keeping with his setting off to investigate Stoddart’s murder whilst the Professor was still alive.

Judgement still reserved. Try again next week.

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