Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money 3 – episodes 9 & 10

Who says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

In the end, I found I had so little interest in Follow the Money 3 (which will indeed be the last we see of this unwanted series) that I wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t watched the final two episodes. Only a sense of duty drove me on. And I was right not to care, frankly, since the series clearly had no idea how it wanted to go out, what message it wanted to send or whether it had a message to begin with.

Episode 9 was all about consequences coming home. Nicky, despite having been stabbed within millimetres of his liver and lost pints of blood, gets out of his hospital bed, walks out through a Police cordon and tries to get himself and little Milas clear, to Spain. It’s a superhuman effort. No, I mean that. No human being could have done that, so any residual credibility the show had immediately vanished.

Nicky contacted Anna to get his money tranferred to Spain but Lala and Nabil had intervened and blocked it off. Anna’s working for them now and they’re both fucking stupid, running on threats. Pretty Nete won’t play any more and fires Anna secretly. Nabil orders Anna to get her job back so she decides to bash Nete in the head with a hammer only she can’t do it only Nete conveniently falls down the stairs anyway and suffers a massive haemorrhage.

And now Anna’s fearful for her family, so she dobs everyone in at the Bank, ready to take the consequences, both in terms of sacking and prison. Everybody’s credit card is turned off. Anna goes to admit what she’s done to Nabil, who loses his rag, belts her a couple of times  then, whilst she’s on the ground, shoots her three times at close range.

And misses her with every one. What did I say about residual credibility? This twist beggared belief, and put the show into negative credibility, rendering everything before and after completly pointless and bullshit. And what’s Anna’s ultimate fate? The Bank hush everything up, including with the Police, and appoint Anna the new Head of Compliance at HQ.

This bit reminded me so strongly of The Prisoner, of the bit where Number 6, in the penultimate episode, says the number six, and from then on everything is a surrealist fantasy of success and escape. The only bit that makes logical sense is that Anna is killed and this is a fantasy going through her head in her last split seconds of consciousness.

But what of Alf? Andwhat of Nicky? The former gets suspended when they’re this fucking close, when evidence of his popping pills and shagging Isa is sent to Storm. Even though Stine’s got him to drop the pills and Isa isn’t shagging him anymore. Just at this point, an unbleached Nicky turns up at his door to turn himself in, shop everyone, in return for a deal: decently reduced sentence, right to see his son, witness protection. He means it too. Alf has to laugh.

Nevertheless, he calls it in. The Police come to take Nicky in. Then the Police come to take Nicky in, only this time it’s Stine and the team. The first lot are working for Chief Broderson, who wants Nicky, the model of efficiency and calm, back in action and established in Dubai, never to return. But Nicky beats them, with a scene for which I’m going to shamelessly borrow Clive James’ Bad Sight of the Week, digging his fingers into his wound and pulling out the stitches so he starts bleeding again.

But it keeps him off the plane, the temporarily unsuspended Alf finds and saves him, and the beans are spilled in proper order.

So: jump four months. Nabil and Lala are sentenced. Anna’s taking up her new glittering job (poachers turning gamekeepers, naturally). Alf’s still suspended, is stalking Isa and getting nowhere. Nicky has a visit from Milas, in gaol, weeps over a drawing the little boy has made of them together, which is as good as having a thirty foot neon gun pointing down at him from above because next thing he’s being driven to his next cell and two blokes on a bike rock up beside him and shoot him to buggery through the windoow, so that’s Nicky’s story done.

As for Alf, he’s alone, traumatised, suspended. He’s put so much of himself into bringing down the hash dealers and here’s Isa’s idiot politician husband on TV exulting over Denmark making cannabis legal, regulating the trade, quality control, getting rich off its profits, new export drive, heh heh, and Alf washes down a handful of pills, lies back on the bed, closes his eyes…

Like I said, there’s definitely not going to be a season 4 and if, for some cockamamie reason they do make one, I shalln’t be watching.

I need a break, a good break I think, from Skandi dramas on a Saturday night, a break until another good one comes along. To quote Harlan Ellison, the wine has been open too long and the memory has gone flat.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money 3 – episodes 7 & 8

Marijana (not Jelena) Jankovic

As much as I found it risible, I’d almost rather have a third series of Bedrag with Maverick Mess and Amoral Claudia than this molecule-thin, unnecessarily convoluted and colourless drama, that has no impetus, no meaning and certainly no heart.

A lot of things happened in episode 7, none of them particularly memorable. Alf’s back to sleeping with Isa again, except in a twist on the traditional approach, it’s not just her that is keeping her knickers on (at least it’s not America and she hasn’t still got her bra on). Alf’s going to pieces and it woul concern me more if Thomas Kwan had more than two modes of acting: slow and deadpan, and shouty slow and deadpan.

He’s not just getting screwed by Isa (through two layers of cotton, how?) but by Broderson, the Chief of Police. Alf has touched pitch: Broderson has a cunning plan to cotrol the drug’s trade, which is to let one gang (Wahid and Nebil’s) control it all. Result, no internecine wars and good, uninterrupted management. Alf can’t go along with this, except this if he doesn’t, Broderson will expose everything, the pills, the shagging, chuck him out of his job, ruin Isa’s life. Oh, and yes, lay off Nicky Rasmussen, because he’s Wahid’s principal supplier.

If that’s not bad enough, Stine is still displaying concern, so Alf reports her to his commander for excessive force and temper, provoking a temper outburst from her, proving his point. Miserable twat.

Nicky has the easiest part of it this episode. He’s happily playing with Milas when Sahar drops by with a housewarming gift. She and Milas take to each other like ducks to water, but she doesn’t like being left to cope alone, unrequested, whilst Nicky nips outto sort out a mess his soon-to-be successor Lala has created. Worse still, Lala then gets himself beaten to a pulp challenging Danish aryan racists, getting a lot of blood over a lot of money that Nicky still has to account for.

I’ve never watched Breaking Bad (I know, remiss of me) but I’m sure the writers have studied it because Anna Berg Hansen is Walter-Whiting it like nobody’s business. Sitting in on pretty Nervous Nete when the Police come to call about young Mr Rasmussen, seducing her into a business plan that will simultaneously save Nete’s neck as an out-of-her-depth Branch Manager, and suck in more laundering clients then, when discovering tht the little minx has an appointment the next morning with Alf, ducking her quite forcefully into an aquarium during a dinner party at home and threatening to have her killed. Does episode 8 have anything in it to redeem this brainless shit?

Well, yes, for a given value of redeem, that is. We’re starting to build up to the denouement, so everything starts to fall inwards, towards the centre. Nicky signs his Dubai business over to Lala whilst still keeping him on a string. Lala promises Anna to maintain the discipline under which things have been run to date, and then she goes and loses all discipline, spending money like it’s water: a flash sports car for Soren, a spa away day at a luxury hotel, complete with vintage champagne: we’re blowing it, aren’t we?

That little splurge suddenly goes hollow. Alf and Moeller have been to see pretty Nete at home and despite Anna’s warning, her nervousness betrays her. She offers up her Branch Manager’s linkto Anna’s computer. Anna, feeling randy, slips back to their room to prepare for some high-intensity, middle-aged, resurgent love fucking only to find the hapless Jaewar there, dobbing some surveillance around. Cue panic attack, sudden regrets aboout ever starting this and heart-warming support from formerly crusty husband.

The real precipitating factor for the endgame comes when Brodersen’s plan blows up in everybody’s face: Wasim is killed on the golf course by having a few tee shots taken to his head. Brodersen sticks his head in the sand, no change of plans, though Alf knows that an uncontrollable war is about to start. When Stine won’t accept his apologies, he returns Task Force Norrebro back onto Nicky and Marco. When Brodersen finds out, he immediately sets up a 30% budget cut, including sacking Commander Storm, preparatory to dissolving the team.

Alf explains to Storm how they can save theTask Force by acceding to Brodersen, but his boss reacts badly: he will not compromise an investigation to save his own ass (good man), and Alf has until the day after tomorrow to come up with evidence, or his ass is out the door.

A prolonged re-review of what they’ve got enables Inscrutable Alf to make the missing connection. He identifies Marco. Marco is Nicky. Unfortunately for Nicky, Lala has reached the same conclusion by a different route, and stabs Nicky in the stomach. Bleeding profusely, Nicky drives to Sahar’s apartment and collapses on her floor…

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money 3 – episodes 5 & 6

The Big Three of Season 3

How much of it is me, drained of energy and unable to find anything of interest in television just now, and how much is tht Follow the Money 3 has the depth of a puddle after a 72 hour drought is difficult to tell, but I struggled just to last through episode 5 and couldn’t have watched episode 6 straight after if you’d strapped me to a chair and spreadeagled my eyelids. Only willpower is keeping me at this right now.

Once again, the episode started with problems for two out of our three leads, the exception being Nicky, who not only got to have a lovely day with his little son Milas but to shag the Muslim girl he met at Wasinm’s wedding last week, and no doubt she’s shaping up to be a major weakness for him in episodes to come.

Anna seems to be on top of things, Walter White-ing towards being a major career criminal. True, the ever so reasonable Soren discovers 47,000 kroner worth of new clobber in her wardrobe, and when she points out tht thir joint funds are only ever spent on things for him and twattish son Carl, and besides this was her money, earned from money laundering that he pushed her into, he smacks her round the face, hard, and insists she take it all back or he does.

One night on the couch later – her, not him – he’s all apologetic and swearing it won’t ever happen again, like they all do, and she’s all forgiving, but she still asks Nicky to have a ‘talk’ with him, talk here being a word that means send two thugs to beat the crap out of him in the pouring rain. You can’t really blame her.

No, it’s Alf who’s having the problems. His boss is peeved at Alf going over his head. he can only get a warrant for audio, not video surveillance. It takes nine days before they realise Nicky’s apartment is a fake and he really lives next door, and then he and Stine get caufht on the surveillance cameras, really, can he do anything else wrong?

Yes, he can, actually. Stine has to help him home when he startsdrinking on top of uppers and downers, so he goes all homophobic on her about her being a lesbian ‘pretending’ to be a Dad, then elbows her to the floor, squatting on her, slapping her face and giving every impression of being about to rape her, and we’re supposed to take this as being  reaction to the drugs and alcohol, well bullshit to that. It’s a stupid direction to take a personality-free cop in a mindless thriller series.

But that’s not the worst of it. Alf tries to restart the case by arresting a money-runner and stirring the shit, except the kid pulls a gun and shoots a vested copper in the chest before Moeller, the all-action blowhard, blows him away. Oh, and one shot goes off-target. And hits a middle-aged woman bystander in the throat. AFD.

Watching episode 6 the next morning, after a night’s sleep, points up how much of my reaction to episode 5 was down to a temporary excess of depression. I don’t say the series improved dramatically, though there was a lot more to it, especially in the aftermath of the shooting. The kid was 14: sure, he brought it on himself but that still didn’t make telling his mother that it wasn’t an accident, that he did do it any easier, nor answering his big sister who, understandably, couldn’t see why they had to kill him, since being 14 trumps the fact he was shooting a Police Officer in the chest. And that’s leaving out the innocent bystander, who was the kid’s victim, not the Police’s, which I didn’t spot.

The official response is a series of rattle-their-cages raids, prefaced by Alf walking into Nicky’s juice bar before it opens, and having an almost friendly chat, in semi-cryptic terms, a bit Robert de Niro and Al Pacino in Heat. One place turns up hash and phones and guns, but two are crossed off the list by Chief of Police Broderson, an omission Stine spots and Alf plays dumb about.

The unofficial response comes when Alf sees Isa’s politician husband pontificating on TV about legalising cannabis and has another psychotic reaction, going round there, screaming in her face in impotent rage, until she snogs him, takes him indoors, starts undressing both, but all he can do is double up and cry with his head on her belly. I am reminded of a Nick Lowe single I loved that got nowhere. It was called ‘Cracking Up’.

Nicky, on the outside, is unperturbed. He doesn’t make mistakes, he stays cool. But inwardly the pressure is getting to him. He has a choice between lives: his current role as player for Marco with Alf and his boys constantly snapping at his heels when only one slip will see him in prison, or the one where he’s Milas’ father, bringing his soon up in peace and quiet, out and completely out. That’s his choice: two more months and handing over to his juic bar prtner and trusted lieutenant, who wants it.

Anna has a problem. It’s surprise Internal Audit Day with the Bank’s shit-hot team turning up on spec and she gets about five minutes notice. And Nicky’s accounts are stuffed with too much money and no time to get it out of there. Of course, she pulls it off, getting slightly more complaisant husband Soren to invoice for1.5M kroner and getting her colleague Flemming to dob himself in over an unwise 1M loan to a strip club (oh, corks!) to buy herself time to shift it all out again.

Unfortunately, junior Branch Manager Nete isn’t just a pretty smile and a pair of perky tits. Internal Audit won’t recognise Soren’s company, but Nete does and she’s started digging deeper. Doubly unfortunately, she doesn’t dig deep enough to realise that Anna has had her sign over a dozen incriminating documents without reading them, like she would forany long-standing and trusted Officer: I go down, you go with me, capisce?

Back to Alf. They’ve caught up on a message that Marco himself is coming to Copenhagen for his own version of the routine Internal Audit, so they’re all over Nicky like a cheap suit. Except he goes through the entire day without speaking to anyone who could be Marco. I saw it before they did: the one unobserved part of the day was Nicky’s taxi-ride: Maarco was the cab-driver. Fooled again. Alf is angr with himself, even after Moeller says he would have done exactly the same things.

So Marco leaves. And there are four more episodes to watch. It feels like we’re going to have to start again. At least I feel ready for it again.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money – episodes 3 & 4

Bad Guy, Good Guy, Boring Guys

This really feels off, to be watching and blogging a BBC4 Scandinavian series on  Thursday, but I only have myself to blame for missing the first two episodes when actually broadcast. A midweek session on a few days of leave is necessary for me not to be permanently a week behind.

The first part of this double bill swung from dull to interesting (for a given value of interesting, that is). It’s all three separate stories and things not going well. Alf’s leadership of Task Force Norrebro isn’t going well: in the absence of Moeller, on petulance leave, they blow the chance to follow someone from the Bureau de Change due to incompetence, at which Alf overreacts: it makes a change from standing around looking pained all the time.

He’s missing Isa. Things have gone serious for him on their casual affair, serious enough for him to make the colossal mistake of turning up at her house one night when she’s put her daughters ahead of him, and talking to her politician husband, just because he needs to see her. The outcome is inevitable: she breaks it off.

Nicky’s not happy either. He’s cranky, thinking about little Milas. He turns up, unannounced, at Milas’s grandparents, with whom he’s settled, but doesn’t get to see him, nor leave the teddy bear he’s brought. He applies for custody but has to deal with a dispassionate and reasonable Social Worker who is determined to do what’s right for the boy.

As for Anna, her husband is still a boor and her would-be career as a criminal isn’t going well. Her first client thinks she’s a bullshitting amateur. Her second is more appreciative but his habit of going off half-cocked, punching people in the head and throwing Play Statuions through widescreen TVs convinces her they can’t work together.  Mind you, Hingo the driver has another contact for her, someone quieter.

Then things start to look up. Alf’s team capture their man, and over half a ton of hash. Nicky successfully pulls off a bluff that doubles his sales to one of his arrogant client’s, when they’re trying to throw their weight about.

And Anna’s third potential client is… Nicky. Who Alf then sees going into the basement of the Bureau de Change. Whoa, this is only episode 3! That’s an incredibly early moment for a SkandSeries to start tying its separate threads together.

And tie it yet further it does in the back half of the bill, with Alf getting the arrested suspect, who he’s convinced isn’t big enoough to be the drugs-runner or the Romanian slayer to ‘fess up off the record to his contact. Doesn’t know his name, but can identify him from the photos on Alf’s phone.

So Nicky is now the hinge connecting Anna and Alf, who are as yet unaware of each other. She’s going great guns on her infant career as a white-collar crook: she starts episode 4 with a flash of bush and a very wide cleavage to Soren, her miserable git of a husband, only for him to not even notice, and ends with a new wardrobe, bottling out of letting a complete stranger take her to his hotel room and shag her brains out, but with her new found confidence she goes home, silently demands Soren’s attention, and instead gets her brains shagged out officially (after the credits run, but still).

As for the other two, Alf’s still got it rough. His commander, Storm, shuts down the surveillance at the Bureau, but a chance meeting with the Chief of Police whilst Alf’s buying water with which to take his illegal sleeping pills gets our man a lever to get storm re-open it. On the other hand, the lovely Stine (who has a wife and two kids but till finds time to wear a sports bra) toicks him off for his Benso/Ritalin diet.

And Nicky’s business takes on a new and profitable client, plus he meets this Muslim girl who clearly fancies the idea of getting his bleached-blond head between her… sheets.

The problem is that the whole thing is still basically dull. It’s standard. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. It could be a British series for all it’s doing, stodgy, unimportant and routine. I’ll stay the course, because this is one of my things on this blog, and I may yet be pleasantly surprised, but crappy as Follow the Money 1 and 2 were, they had some vigour and distinction to them, even if it was only the distinction of being bulllgoose looney.

Still, I’m caught up to date now.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money 3 – episodes 1 & 2

I’m clearly not as clued in as I used to be because the latest BBC4 SkandiKrime series actually started last week, so I’m going to have to do a bit of catching up. And I was rather surprised to see Bedrag (aka Follow the Money) returning for a third season when the finale to season 2 seemed to leave no further ground upon which to stand, especially given the decision of Maverick Mess to get out of the Fraud Squad in which he’d always been so ill-fitting.

But here we are again: no Maverick Mess, no Amoral Claudia, not even the Fraud Squad. No familiar title sequence, no familiar theme music, just what do we have that links us to two prior seasons except the name Follow the Money? Not a lot, obviously.

What we do have are Thomas Hwan as Alf Nyborg, the Chinese-Danish detective who spent all his time looking pained at everything Maverick Mess was doing and who now spends all his time looking pained for his own personal reasons, and Ebsen Smed as Nicky Rasmussen, the former marginally more sensible half of Nicky and the Bozo.

Nicky has gone up in the world: he’s now the main man in Denmark for invisible drugs kingpin Marco. Alf’s gone sideways and down, into Task Force Nabarro, where he’s working with but under another forceful idiot, Moeller, who’s all big beard and crack heads together. The Task Force are tackling drug-running, but they haven’t the patience for following the money trail, unlike Inscrutable Alf.

Alf isn’t having a good time of it. Ever since being shot through the spleen two years ago (and despite spending only half an hour in hospital over it), Alf is suffering from PTSD, in the form of not sleeping more than an hour a night. This even applies when he’s been shagged out by his married lover, Isa (the local equivalent of the Crown Prosecution Service Lawyer, played by Maria Askehave, looking very much changed from when she was Rye Skovgaard in The Killing series 1).

On the strength of episode 1 it was obvious they’d taken out all the stupid crap, the idiot characters with their brains in their egos, and the general silliness, but they’d forgotten to put anything individual, distinctive or just plain interesting in its place. Episode 2 started to show a bit of intrigue in the form of third star Maria Rich, as Anna Berg Hansen.

Anna’s a middle-aged, married employee at Kredit Nord Bank, We see a lot of the back of her head at first, until we learn that, despite management’s fulsome compliments as to her skills, she’s been passed over for Branch Manager in favour of a pretty brunette not much more than half her age, about whom the same compliments are made when she’s officially announced.

Before then, we’ve discovered Anna has a boorish husband, whose construction business is less stable than he’s let her think, and a twattish teenage son. At least the son doesn’t bully her into illegal covering up potential money-laundering by one oof the business’s suppliers. Having crossed that line, Anna comes home with ‘good’ pizzas to an empty house, so she takes up Rune’s offer of dinner, drinks lots of wine and enjoys herself (without anything being tried on. In this episode at any rate).

Rune knows other businessmen who’d pay for what Anna’s done, but she’s insistent it’s a one-off for her husband’s benefit. Until Nete is unveiled as Manager under the exact same compliments as she got in being turneddown. Then she meets Rune outside, and I don’t think it’s because she likes the taste of his wafer thin mints (thugh i give it no later than episode 5…)

So, we’re back in business with a pile of reservations. At least we’re being spared Maverick Mess and you know what they say about small mercies.