Quasi-Eurocrime: Fortitude – part 5


The lovely Elena

Last week’s violent eruption, as Sheriff Dan beat the shit out of naked Frank Sutter in the shower (don’t worry, new readers, only the surly, mumbling, unlikable Frank was naked and there was no soap involved) was the perfect leaping off point for Fortitude to get its chops working, to throw off the slow, deliberate, patient/painful (delete as appropriate) build-up and really slam it up through the gears. However, apart from a certain narrowing of focus, episode 5 offered no change in tempo whatsoever. Five episodes down and still plodding: it is getting harder to believe that this series will ever take off.

Apart from a couple of offshoots, just to remind us that the Who Killed Chris Eccleston? plot isn’t the only game in town, most of the episode focussed on Sutter and his possible guilt in the murder of Professor Stoddart. Sheriff Dan’s mad actions ruled him out of any direct involvement in the interrogation, allowing DCI Morton to step in in his quiet manner. Richard Dormer has totally lost me for the length of this series, but Stanley Tucci has gone too far in the opposite direction, underplaying to such a degree that he’s nearing the Earth’s core.

Sheriff Dan is determined not to be counted out. Governor Hildur is still on his side (until late in the episode when she discovers he’s been keeping secrets from her to protect someone else, after which I assume we shall see something of a rift wi’in the lute). She’s straining to paint Dan’s Puncheminnaface methods of arrest as justifiable in apprehending a suspect in a violent, brutal murder, and Dan’s peddling the traditional Police get out of ‘he was resisting arrest’ toDoctor Margaret, but it isn’t selling to anyone, least of all to Morton, who points out he witnessed it.

Dan’s still determined to fuck this investigation up if he can. They have a Frank Sutter t-shirt covered in human blood, but does it match Stoddart? Instead of having a DNA match done through the proper channels, on the mainland, Dan has it done at the Biology Station, by Stoddart’s ex-colleagues, with no forensic certificate, and a couple of eyebrow follicles tweezered out of Stoddart’s corpse by Dan himself in a deserted morgue, so not a lot of obstacles there for any half-competent barrister getting the DNA evidence (and the whole basis of the case) thrown out. Dan doesn’t care. Dan can’t even be bothered to shut the door behind the late Professor’s body to keep it frozen. Dan is not doing anything to embellish his already shaky image this week.

And guess what? It’s Stoddart’s blood on the t-shirt.

Sutter, in the meantime, is talking to Morton. The blood is that of his son, Liam, who we will remember was desperately sick, but suddenly recovered whilst Frank was in the barn, shagging the lovely Elena. Frank’s story is that he found Liam out of bed, covered in blood, that this thing on/in his throat had ruptured, that he’d got Liam cleaned up in the shower and put him back to bed, miraculously recovered, and simply chucked away his ruined t-shirt.

When pressed, he coughs to Elena turning up and the two of them fucking. Which, as we know, is absolutely true. We saw it in the opening double-episode, the fucking bit, that is, not the blood. So Frank has an alibi: he couldn’t have kiled Charlie Stoddart. Except that Charlie’s blood is the one all over the t-shirt.

Elena alibis Frank, and denies any relationship, sexual or otherwise, with Sheriff Dan. He denies it too. Unfortunately, Elena’s alibi has caused Morton and Governor Hildur to assume she’s in it with Frank, and that she was at Stoddart’s when Frank ripped him up. After all, her name is really Esmerelda and she’s done seven years in prison for murder, a minor detail the besotted Dan has been concealing from all and sundry in Fortitude, even Governor Hildur.

Finding that Elena is now under suspiction, the frantic Dan, who now believes Frank 100%, storms off on a desperate search of the Sutter house to he finds Liam’s blood-soaked pajamas. Hurrah, you’re wrong, says Sheriff Dan. My God, say Morton and Hildur, this means they took the boy with them!

Away from the main story, and by that token rather more interesting, we had a couple of distractions. Ronnie and 10 year old Carrie have left the security of the Little Wendy House on the Ice Prairie and are camping on the glacier. There are disturbances in the night. Ronnie reassures Carrie that it’s nothing, there’s nobody there except a stray reindeer, but in the morning there’s a massive bloodstain on the ice, and Ronnie’s right hand is cracked and blackened by frostbite…

In town, creepy Marcus, a man whose DNA is written through with the letters C R E E P, is feeding Doctor Margaret some unexpected minka whale with the compliance of daughter Shirley, with whom he is a) sleeping and b) conducting a great experiment. Which is to feed up Shirley, who is already on the rotund side, until… well, presumably, until she bursts. That Marcus is so overtly creepy that a three-month old baby would take one look at him and go ‘this man is so creepy’ stretches credibility to the point of insult: are we supposed to just assume that Shirley is so much a sad chubbo that she’d overlook anything just to feel like someone fancies her?

Then there’s the hermaphrodite reindeer. Yes, that’s right, there’s a sudden spate of hermaphrodite reindeer foetuses at the moment, the bio lab are studying them. Presumably like they’re studying the pig in the incubator as well? And with only two staff, who are about to shag each other senseless in self-congratulation at a DNA result that’s plainly cocked up somewhere.

The Radio Times thinks this series is ‘as original as it is beautiful’. Beautiful it is, but if the RT thinks this is original, it needs to stay in more and watch the telly. Out of Twin Peaks by way of The Killing, with an overlay of Strindberg’s Enemy of the People, not to mention a heavy dose of Gary Cole’s Seriously Bad Sheriff from the much-lamented American Gothic, only not so lavishly OTT.

Still, next week is half-way.

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