Saturday SkandiThriller: Below the Surface 2 – episodes 3 & 4

A Russian

It’s almost frightening how quickly we reach halfway, but we reach halfway with the first inklings of what might lie behind the story in Gidseltagningen‘s second series.

Up to this point, the third and fourth episodes were almost purely thriller, long on tension, short on development, but not in any way less engrossing. Episode 3 saw the ferry arrive in more-or-less mid-Oresund Sound, when it was allowed to stop, out of shoooting range of both countries. That with its engines off it would then become subject to the tide does not seem to be a factor anyone has considered and by this I mean kidnappers and writers: the ferry is just sitting there, not going anywhere.

Meanwhile, on shore, two lots of Police are preparing to deal with the situation, but as this still isn’t The Bridge, we only get to see the Danish side. Everyone’s in the dark, especially Darnov, the current Commander of TTF during Philip’s gardening leave. and it’s obvious from his immaculately cut beard and his elegant suit that he is not an action-oriented leader. Indeed, he can’t cut it when it really needs cutting.

We’re not up to that point yet. Nobody knows anything, not even that Philip is on board, though as the situation intensifies overnight, intelligence is gathered until TTF know almost as much as we do about the hostage takers.

Most of episode 3 is spent in hunting down June, who’s using all her paramilitary expertise to stay ahead of her hunters. One of the two truck drivers, the wimpier one, the driver, gives her away to the terrorists, but of course she’s no longer on the truck. He becomes the first hostage to be killed, as June ignores his plight in her efforts to escape.

Unfortunately, the second isto be a double-header: mother and six month old baby. Philip tries to talk June in, but her intransigence – which we see develop through a series of flashbacks of her advancing radicalisation – remains absolute. She constructs home-made bombs, chucks one at the wimpy terrorist Mahdi, brains him with a fire extinguisher that she brings down with skull-crushing force only for it not to even give him a headache, and is only stopped by pointblank machineguns as she leads a hostage fightback that forces her to drop her weapons.

Philip spends most of these two episodes out of action. He starts unconscious, spends most of episode 3 under armed guard, gets lockd in the freezer, frees himself once but goes straight back inside where, as his paraallel flashbacks with the sympathetic Beate illustrates, he gives up, helpless.

Onshore, the Minister authorises a raid, in force, covertly. Unfortunately, it’s not covert enough: the boats of armed anti-terrorist Police are seen by the moron terrorist and a trap is left. Unfortunately for him, he’s the bait, left to be gunned down to guide the attackers into the lounge where six hostages are wired to C4…

The attack’s a flop. Yusuf gives them thirty seconds to get clear or the rest of the hostages die. Garnov wastes ten of them being unable to decide what to do. TTF pull out. New impasse.

What is all behind this? The terrorists want a number from June, a mobile phone, and Yusuf is prepared to waterboard her for it. Rami, Mahdi’s fanatic brother and the one you’d most enjoy seeing be gut-shot and bleeding out over the whole of episode 7, gives her ten minutes to write it down or he’ll slit her throat (without recognising the self-defeating aspect of that threat). June writes it down.

Onshore, Military intelligence Chief Bulow once again has a cryptic meeting with his Russian diplomatic opposite to tell her that Denmark won’t hand June over. Meanwhile, the mobile phone number June’s written down leads us to the dog-grooming salon, where a mobile phone is stolen. And handed to Russia’s diplomatic representative. Well, well.

Despite the couple of slipshod moments in the writing, which I found somewhat depressing after the absence of them in 2017, I’m still on board (as is Philip) to find out where this is going, and how many more get killed along the way. The third week is when we usually start to see more of the shape of things…

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