Saturday SkandiKrime: Modus – episodes 5 & 6

The Ings
The Ings

Right at the start of episode 5, Modus toyed with Cliche One. Remember that our two Ings spent the night – during which an improbable thaw of epic proportions took place, not only causing every last bit of snow to vanish, but also the considerable meltwater, without so much as a scrape of slush – under the same roof.

Now Inger Johanne, sleepless in the early light, wanders downstairs to the lounge where Ingvar is dead and gone on the couch, long, lean, handsome, oh so tempting as the nascent sun tickles his immaculately manicured beard, and she sits beside him on the coach, and reaches for… the blanket, which she considerately pulls down to cover his poor, bare, undoubtedly cold feet.

The idea that Inger and Ingvar might sleep together is really the weakest part of this story, and I was all set to switch off in disgust if they’d followed through. It’s not just that Ingvar would come third in a three-dimensionality contest with a cardboard cut-out, but that he and Inger have all the sexual chemistry of peas and custard.

Having avoided a disastrous kick-off to the second half of the story, the producers try to keep the flame alight by having Inger’s next door neighbour prowl round with censorious frowns at all this disgusting hanky panky, then in episode 6 having her take Ingvar home again, hurl herself onto his lap in the cloakroom with a couple of passionate kisses, then just as abruptly hurl herself off said lap with the convoluted explanation that once they start they can’t stop later and she can’t handle that. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’ve mentioned that bit out of order just to get the whole topic out of the way so that we can concentrate on the important things, like the story.

Actually, episode 5 started with Richard Forrester in his snow-free caravan, being interrupted by a blood-streaked Robin rapping on the window, finding himself chained to his bed and writhing in impossible fright and fury as Robin starts to… touch him. However, it’s but a dream, a psychologically revealing, albeit unnecessary dream, since Marek Oravec’s intense, mostly-silent performance has already made it abundantly clear that Forrester is driven by paradoxical latent homosexuality.

As for the real Robin, after his beating by Forrester, he sleeps overnight on a bench, limps home, collapses on his bed and promptly dies, which does at least mean that I get to see where he fits in: his mother, Gunilla, is maid to our uneasily married couple, Marcus and Rolf. Oh, I see, I get it.

Though the pace never accelerates beyond the slow and deliberate, there’s a real sense of momentum as answers start clicking into place. Inger, on learning of Robin’s death via the TV, doesn’t even need the young man’s name to identify Robin and link him to this case. She’s seen this before, and her FBI buddy agrees: this is all the work of 1 + 5, a virulently anti-homosexual religious sect in America (hey, that weird, bald preacher guy!).

Apparently, 1 + 5 accept contracts to kill homosexuals (especially Scandinavian ones, Scandinavia being the sinkhole of the world), but throw in five extra gays for free, as a bonus offer, all five being connected to the One. Robin makes four, and a homeless Afghan refugee, selling his body for food, becomes the fifth, in episode 5.

Only there’s a twist. Harwe, the Afghan lad, is killed on a boat but his body is laid out in a deserted street, right under the windows of Marcus’ offices. He sees the body, nobly goes out to check and is about to call the police when a car arrives. He’s suspected of being not only the killer, but also the John.

Which takes us over to episode 6. There’s a lunkhead detective who’s just as anti-faggot as Forrester, ensuring that Marcus’ experience is as degrading and horrible as possible, until Marcus’ security chief, a former female Swedish police officer, produces the security tapes that exonerate him.

There’s just one problem. Marcus’ trusted security chief (whose name I didn’t catch but who’s either Fanny or Marianne) is working with Forrester. And when Marcus drives away at the end to be alone with his thoughts, guess who’s behind the wheel?

1 + 5 are taken out by the FBI quite efficiently, though creepy preacher guy passes away, grabbing a sawn-off shotgun stored behind the crosspiece of his little church’s, uh, Cross, and committing suicide by police. This leaves Forrester on his own but continuing to carry out his mission, whilst Inger gets closer and closer to a complete understanding of who and what he is.

Interestingly, I note that the user assessments on imdb get progressively lower episode by episode and I’m inclined to agree. For instance: in killing Harwe, Forresyer is seen by another young girl witness, living underground in a subway station, and producing great graffitti art. She scratches his eye, getting his DNA under her fingernails, but he does nothingabout it until Fanny/Marianne tells him to. So off he goes down the escalator and who is it, by sheer coincidence, follows him into the subway station, and stands about twenty feet behind him on the escalator? Inger Johanne, of course.

Except the scene leads nowhere. Forrester hides from her, Inger gets a phonecall from Stine (the brilliant young actresses playing her daughters do not appear in either of this week’s episodes) followed by a text about the miraculous discovery of the boat, and she leaves. Very classy, very spooky. But to no purpose.

We are also given the unastounding news that Bishop Elizabeth was indeed gay, and had been since the age of 16, which her lifelong lover, the woman Erik had tea with, drops easily into conversation with Ingvar. And, in a twist that I should have seen coming but didn’t, lets slip that Erik, Elizabeth’s husband, is also homosexual. Where that leaves weedy Lukas, I don’t know, but he has an heroic part to play in stopping his Poppa from putting a shotgun bullet through his brain.

The problem is that, although the pieces are individually well-made, and they’re clearly linked in the plot, slowly the story is sliding apart. I don’t feel an emotional connection to any of this, or any of the players, except for Stine, who isn’t even onscreen. And possibly Melinda Kinniman, who is far too good to waste on the mouth-breathing Henrik Norlen.

Let’s see in next Saturday’s finale can pull it all together. Stine Vik has got to be brought back into the centre of things if there’s to be the remotest chance of it working.

Incidentally, Modus is based on a novel by crime novellist Anne Holt, a Norwegian writer and former Government Minister. She’s written eighteen novels, including two series, one of which Wikipedia titles ‘the Vik/Stubo series’, of which there are five books, Modus being based on book 4, ‘Fear Not’. It’s clearly something of a loose adaptation (the books are set in Norway, for one thing) but they don’t seem to have an Ingvar Nyman in them. So, if there is a series 2, we can but hope…

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