Saturday SkandiCrime: Arne Dahl – Requiem

Kerstin Holm

If the BBC want us to take Arne Dahl seriously, then they should not preface it with a trailer for The Bridge 3, and especially not one that was soundtracked by Johnny Cash’s lacerating version of “Hurt”. It’s too blatant a reminder of the exceptional, and even though that part of the trailer that did not consist of flashbacks to Martin’s arrest at the end of The Bridge 2 were nothing more than Sara’s motionless face, sat behind the wheel of a car, staring at the titular Bridge, it contained more dramatic tension than the whole two parts of this week’s Adventures in Crime-Solving with A-Group.

‘Requiem’ started with a bank robbery, with hostages, one of which was Kerstin Holm. The robbers killed two people and escaped via a meticulously planned escape route with 20 million krone and the thing they were actually after, though ‘it’ turned out to be incomplete.

A-Group was set to put its massive collective brainpower to the solving of who, what, why and what the hell ‘it’ was. It was Sweden’s top six cops, plus Paul Hjelm, who you just can’t keep out of it despite his being in a totally different department, versus a total of five people, not all of whom were in the same side.

These baddies amounted to a slightly baby-faced computer whizz, backed by a laid-back older guy with a goatee, who may or may not have been behind everything, two common or garden Russian thugs who were probably ex-KGB (or Ka-Jha-Ba, as the Swedes so inelegantly pronounce it) and were too bloody stupid for words, and a grim-faced, white-haired guy with rimless spectacles who was apparently an American holiday-maker, who shot most of the bad guys at one point or another, without having it away on his toes with ‘it’. Oh, and he never opened his mouth once and still terrified Goatee-guy (maybe he’s got baaaaaaaad breath?). This though Goatee-guy was seriously ex-KGB, and the mysterious boss of a major crime syndicate.

‘It’, for those who managed to stay awake long enough under the relentless tedium, turned out to be thirty-year old plans for the potentially mythical Cold Fusion. Baby-faced technology Professor, who had young Ida gazing up from under lashes and fringe from the moment she first saw him, denied that it would work, but still nipped off with photos of the blueprints and a keen idea of how to use them to make himself incredibly rich.

For those of us assuming we’d be watching a crime drama, there was sad disappointment in all the twists and turns, along domestic cul-de-sacs, as we followed the little melodramas of people’s lives. Will Chavez and Sara’s marriage survive, given that he wants 12 children and she’d rather stick with the one they’ve got, which he can barely handle bringing up anyway? Has Kerstin acted too soon by taking up with Bengt, just because he cares for her deeply, is instinctively supportive and wants to be a father figure to her son? Is Paul still the biggest horse’s ass in Sweden, like he was in  series 1? (Oh yes he is, believe me).

Over two hours, I’d say there was definitely about forty minutes of story if you didn’t want to take things too fast, which was much the same as last week, only the two hours felt much longer. Series 1 was amiably dull, but series 2 is stretching patience that is already paper-thin when it seems likely that three more weeks of this separate us from The Bridge 3.

And it’s not as if the series can raise itself to be decently stupid or offensive so that I can snark it unmercifully.

People, this is going to be a trail…

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