Saturday SkandiThriller: Below the Surface episodes 3 & 4


Louise Falck, negotiator

We have now advanced rapidly to the halfway point of this extremely well-made series, and what has continued to be a taut, and highly engrossing thriller is starting to develop elements branching out from a mere plot. In a way, this is something of a limited series in comparison to the best of Denmark’s previous TV efforts, but I’m enjoying it far more than anything else from that part of the world since at least 1864.

Two more days have passed in the hostage crisis, and TTF (or maybe that should be CTF as I seem to be working off a different set of sub-titles this week) are inching nearer to the hostage-takers, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, after a false move in episode 3.

That saw the elderly, unshaven Leon (played by the only actor I’ve seen before, Tommy Kenter, who was in Follow the Money 2) collapse into a diabetic coma. Alpha agreed to allow a medic down to treat him, but TTF used this as an opportunity to get one of their own into the underground lair, to be eyes and ears for a raid. This back-fired badly: a trip-wire set off explosions, which set off shooting. TTF had to back out with four men shot, not fatally at any rate, but Silas of the hostages copped a bullet in the side.

This became a proving moment for Marie, the nurse. We found out from her flashback that she’d be blown out for indecision (peculiarly apt in Denmark…) and she was out of her depth and failing in trying to save Silas, until she finally pulled herself together and set-up a makeshift blood transfusion which kept him alive long enough to be got out.

Leon got his insulin shots and was restored, and he flashbacked in episode 4, to life in Thailand with a not-so-young Thai prostitute who he planned to bring back to Denmark, but who wouldn’t go with him, destroying his dreams. That spurred him to break out the cage when flirty Denise pushed her luck too far with the psycho hostage-taker and was in the process of being raped. Leon averted the rape at the cost of a rifle-butt to the ribs and consequences to be seen. I anticipate a Denise flashback in episode 5: let’s see how right I am.

The story-line twisted at the end of episode 3. After last week’s shooting of Adel, Naja Toft had lost her nerve. She couldn’t believe they wanted another interview, which would have been with Leon, but at the last moment, she bottled it, switched off her phone.

This carried over into episode 4, with Naja withdrawing entirely, apologising to the families, leaving. But in a move I thought suspicious, one guy – rugged, self-sufficient, reasonably hamdsome or at least personable, followed her out. He said he was Leon’s son, he said he wanted to take over the fundraiser, he quite clearly fancied her. They spent the day together, talking, exchanging stories, meal, wine, and as could be seen coming, they spent the night together. Naja got an evidently enjoyable shag out of it, and her confidence back. And he walked away, pausing only for a quick mobile phone call to reassure Alpha that she’ll take his next call…

See, I was right.

It’s about the only cliched thing so far, and it does serve to deepen the waters as to just what Alpha wants, where this is heading and a large dose of What Is This All About?

I’ve avoided mention thus far of the traumatised Philip and the lovely Louise. After the error in authorising Cramer’s ill-fated raid in episode 3, Philip has kept a little in the background in episode 4, leaving S.P. and Claasen to trace back weapons equipping and get closer to the background, though he plays a brief blinder, empathising with a PTSD veteran in such a way as to have the lovely Louise fearing it wasn’t an act. He insists it was. Mind you, he’s using a back channel to check up on whether his torturer Ahmad really is dead, and when the word comes back that he really is, Philip is forced to open up the way she’s been wanting him too, confessing as to his experiences with Ahmad, and his fears that in believing Ahmad is Alpha, he is cracking up.

It adds a depth to what is going on that has previously to this been more hinted than actual, but which tees things up very nicely for the second half of the series.

I’m torn between wanting Alpha to be Ahmad, because so much is being built into this that I’m worried about how they’ll pull this off if it is someone unrelated, and being intrigued at the prospect of being blindsided and the ingenuity of how they’ll pull it off. With only four episodes left, some very clever plotting is going to be needed to draw everything into a satisfactory conclusion, but you know when you’re in good hands as readily as you know when you’re in bad ones, and I’m expecting to be kept in edge to the final edge.

Two more weeks. It’s hardly fair.

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