One SkandiThriller too many…


So I’m just thinking that, you self-isolate one whole Sunday, not even getting a paper and what do they do? They spring an unexpected SkandiThriller on you in the good old BBC4 9.00pm, Saturday slot. It’s called Twin, and on the heels of Wisting it’s another Norwegian one. And it’s full of good awesome mountain scenery.

And what’s it about? It’s about these identical twins, Adam and Erik, both played by Kristofer Hijvu,both tall, burly with long red beards. The twins haven’t seen each other for 15 years because they’re completely different characters.

Erik’s a surfing instructor if he’s anything, which is another way of saying he’s a lazy, shiftless bum, a freeloader who thinks he’s entitled to whatever he wants, completely irresponsible, a thief and a lawbreaker many times over in the first thirty minutes and still he thinks he should get what he wants when he wants it. In short, a total arsehole.

Adam, in contrast, is clean-living and upright, a married man with a wife and two children and a business. He’s also so big a stiff you could poke the fire with the poker shoved up his backside.

Erik comes to Adam for help, well, basically, to be taken care of at everybody else’s expense. Adm won’t have anything to do with him and orders him to go. Erik won’t (he only understands the word ‘No’ when he’s the one saying it). The two get into a fight on the boat Erik’s about to steal because he has to have somewhere to crash. Adam’s wife, intervening with a boathook, inadvertently kills Adam.

The plot of the series is that she then asks Erik, who everybody he usually rips off thinks is dead because he’s let them, being an emotional vampire as well as every other kind, to pretend to be Adam.

Why? What for? And with what consequences?

Well, you’ll have to tell me. Because this was the point I switched off. Because I was completely cold about Adam and I loathed Erik. Because I would sooner paddle in squishy shit in my bare feet than watch a programme about that kind of character. Because there isn’t the fantastic Norwegian scenery under the sun that can compensate for putting up with this waste of a human being who, even if ground up in a meat-grinder, would poison the pigs he was fed to.

Jeez, I’d rather watch a hundred new series featuring Maverick Mess…

No recaps, not even to snark. This one I don’t want to know.

I’d even rather watch a third series of Black Lake…

Saturday SkandiKrime: Wisting – episodes 9 & 10


Linnea

Normally, I split last week blogs into two parts but after episode 9 I couldn’t think of enough things to say to warrant it. The trouble is, I’m in pretty much the same boat after episode 10.

The problem was that two names became pretty important in the funneling of efforts towards the end. One were Jonas Ravnberg, Line’s murder victim from episode 6, who who turned out to have a red Saab that may have been checked out in connection with the abduction of Cecilia, she of the case where there was the evidence tampering that has seen Wisting cut loose on suspension. The connection was not seen before because Ravnberg’s name was misspelled in the Cecilia case (I’m not even sure I’ve spelt it right here).

It took me a long time to work out what significance Ravnberg had to the story so far. The other name was Daniel Flom, a photographer who seemed to be involved somewhere in the Cecilia case (was he Cecilia’s ex-boyfriend or something like that?) Anyway, he came on the scene because the fit hot 16 year old blonde Linnea (who we discovered to be alive and imprisoned in a near-replica of Sisse’s basement in the recent Darkness: Those Who Kill: is there no originality, even among serial killers?) turned out to have had saucy pictures taken to further a would-be skin-showing modelling career, and he was the photographer.

But I couldn’t really place either in the drama so I was lost a bit through episode 9 and, to be honest, not really caring. Anyway, Wisting went too far in trying to solve the case himself. Having finally persauaded Line to team up with him, they discovered that Ravnberg’s friend, the one who took his dog in, was wearing an axe in his back but that the Police were far keener on arresting Wisting for Obstruction of Justice.

Things got better in part 10. Haglund’s lawyer got Wisting out on bale. Ravnburg’s old girlfriend, Marelen Torunn, came up with a parcel, addressed to Wisting, containing an old video tape showing the genuinely disturbing sight of a clearly petrified Cecilia, blood-smeared and in a tight-fitting dress, nervously dancing for whoever was taking the film. And Marebel provided an address.

Meanwhile, young benjamin was following Daniel Flom, with hammer and one of the other members of Wisting’s team, whose name I never got over five weeks, in hot pursuit. Converging pursuers, but not so. They were the red herring: Flom had retreated somewhere isolated to hang himself, but Benjamin saved his life. There was a moment that rose above the general fare as Flom admitted that, yes, he had a thing for scantily old sixteen year old blondes, but that he only took photos. he had sublimated his kink into photographs, but he never touched them.

Wisting and Line are on their way to the right place, though somehow the pathetic Frank, plus rifle, had gotten there before them, not that there seemed to be an explanation why. More time was given to Line’s renewed relationship with Tommy, the man who ‘ruined her life’, being caught with her with speed and cocaine, and crashing Line out of Police College. Except that they were her drugs and he took the blame and he ruined his life for her sake. If the whole Tommy thing had been of any significance instead of just passing interest, this would have mattered. As it was, Wooden Wisting didn’t react to this revelation at all.

So the Wistings and Frank found poor Linnea, alive, and poor Frank cracked, putting down his rifle where any self-respecting serial killer arriving whilst all the rescuers are bunched in the dungeon could just pick it up. Frank lost it, thought the girl was Ellen, his niece, whose name was scratched into the wall above the one we sawLinnea scratch earlier. Frank thought he’d saved her, and Frank died in that blissful moment, shot with his own rifle by the true killer, the one it had been all along, the supposedly innocent man, Vidor Haglund, the only one left it could plausibly be.

Wisting brought him in, beaten, bloody and soaked. his innocence was proved and he was reinstated. But just who had tampered with the evidence. Someone entered his cottage, loking for the tell-tale evidence against her. her, it was a her, the arm, the leather glove, a dead giveaway. and by then there was only one plausible culprit, Chief of Police Anne Vetti. Who fixed the evidence to get the killer, and to boost the Police’s morale over the case, for exactly the reasons everyone was convinced Wisting did it. And was stupid enough to admit it without once suspecting Wisting was taping her. Silly woman: if he was expecting you to show up and steal the evidence, why on earth would you not expect him to have a mobile phone taping the conversation from behind the curtain?

Next week, it’s a new series of Inspector Montalbano, which I believe to be very good but which, like Spiral and for the same reasons, I’ve never watched because I didn’t get in at the beginning. So, a few weeks off for me. Wisting was distinctly average, unlike Iceland’s contribution to the Saturday night Scandies. I’d watch another series if they make one, and there are plenty of other books to adapt, even two at a time, but the truth is it’s not good enough to be good and not bad enough to be fun snarking.

 

Saturday SkandiKrime: Wisting – episodes 1 & 2


I’m coming late to the party on BBC4’s latest TV trip to Scandinavia, the Norwegian series, Wisting, starring Sven Nordin as Senior Investigator Willian Wisting of the Police in the small town of Larvik. We haven’t had a Norwegian one before so I’m already looking forward to seeing what differences that may make.

The series, apparently the most expensive ever made by Norwegian TV, runs to ten episodes, but this is broken into two stories of five episodes each, based on two books in the series about Wisting written by former Senior Investigating Officer Jord Lier Horst, now running to thirteen novels.

The series begins in the run-up to Xmas, which means snow everywhere, turning the fantastic landscape into a palette of white and steel and pastel colours: absolutely gorgeous. A man on skies, pulling a small child on a sled, enters a forest of Xmas trees, seen from overhead in fantastic geometric patterns. He finds a frozen body under a tree. Wisting’s team, Hammer, Benjamin, Thorun, take pover the investigation.

Wisting’s a widower, living alone, his wife dead almost a year. From the way people speak of her, it wasn’t natural causes. It may be a matter of intrigue, it might be a case of the programme avoiding the ever-irritating ‘As you know’: we’ll have to see. For now, we see the quiet, almost-emotionless Wisting sleeping in one half of the bed and touching the empty pillow on the other side.

He alsio has two children who do not live with him. The younger, Thomas, is a volunteer in Africa, assisting famine relief, but coming home for Xmas. His older sister, Line (Thea Green Lundburg) is a reports with top newspaper/magazine VG in Oslo. Coincidentally, or so we think at first, another body has been found in Larvik, Viggo Hansen, died in his chair four months ago, and only just discovered. Line is assigned to do a feature on Viggo and loneliness in modern Norway, ‘the best country in the world’.

So that’s two investigations, of different weight and seriousness. Daughter trips around asking quesions, police permission to have keys to Viggo’s house, hunting down his childhood classmates. Wisting’s happy to let Line follow this ‘case’ because it’s keeping her distracted. His body is an American, and he might be an elusive serial killer, Richard Godwin, who’s been operating for over twenty years before disappearing. The FBI are sending two agents to observe and advise, Maggie Griffin (Carrie-Anne Moss)  and John Bentham (Ritchie Campbell). The body turns out to be that of Peter Crabb, a former academic and amateur pursuer of Godwin. It is likely Godwin, who is of Norwegian ancestry, has killed him. The Press must not get their hands on any detail.

Meanwhile, we have the increasingly familiar sight, after Darkness: Those Who Kill, of a pretty young blonde, stripped down to her t-shirt and knickers, imprisoned in another unappointed cell, with a security camera observing her.

Stepping out of the story, I’d like to comment on the kind of series we’re watching. So far, this is a straight procedural, much like Trapped, although the characters don’t impress themselves on us as much as in that classic. Wisting is as straight a character as you can get, doing his job with intelligence and calm determination. No maverick he. You sense he’s never been maverick-oriented, and much of his near-absence of character can be laid at the door of a deliberate unemotionalism that’s accompanied his loss. I like him.

There is a maverick however on the team, this being Nils Hammer (Mads Ousdal, our third lead), ex-Narcotics Squad hero and a bit of a law unto himself. Hammer doesn’t like the idea of the FBI, he likes even less that the leader is a woman, and he reacts badly to Maggie describing the elusive Godwin as a ‘caveman’. What she means is tht Godwin constructs identities for himself by taking over the lives of legitimate people but Hammer takes it as an insult to Norway, insinuating its population are cavemen and neanderthals. his uncooperative attitude to Maggie thereafter, his refusal to concentrate on the job, taking diversions, stopping for free coffee, obsessing over his phone would tend to support that interpretation.

The two clash, as a result of which Hammer goes home earrly and refuses to answer his phone or door to Wisting. There’s a moment’s frisson when he’s collected, next day, by Benjamin, whose characteristic is her nervous inexperience (Thorun is the research expert, eager and positive): I had this sudden, horrific thought that he might be Godwin. But he physically can’t have been.

Meanwhile, the case has expanded to include a possible forty-six Norwegian victims, all young, pretty blondes, to add to the thirty-plus American victims. One of them may have been Ellen Robeck, missing many long years, whose uncle was Senior Investigating Officer Frank Robeck, broken by the experience and following this investigation at a safe distance.

And Line’s investigations have led her to the belief that Viggo may have been murdered as well. It’s a circumstantial point but a valid one: It’s a circumstantial but valid point. Viggo was found dead in an armchair in front of a switched-on TV. But evidence showed the other chair was the one he sat in. Wisting’s refusal to take this seriously further alienates the family.

Meanwhile, an old burnt-out farm with a covered well has been identified with Godwin’s M.O. for hiding bodies. Maggie angers Hammer by going down in on Wisting’s authority.  Hammer’s obsessing over his missing phone. Wisting finds it in the car, passes it to him. Hammer stomps back to the car to look at it. He’s viewing security camera surveillance footage of the girl in the basement…

Oh my.

That’s the opening weekend. On this evdence, I’d welcome Wisting as good Skandi, with room to grow ino very good, though I don’t like the five part story idea. But good is good enough for me, when set against the standard of its British equivalents. I’ll be catching-up in midweek on episodes 3 & 4 so as to be on track next weekend, so keep your eyes open if you’re following this, and if you’re not, get cracking.

 

Saturday SkandiKrime: Darkness: Those who Kill episodes 7 & 8


The last two episodes of Those that Kill were the best, mainly because by this point there was very little time left for bullshit if we were to have an all-out tense ending. Not completely no time, unfortunately, the series choosing to end on a waffly note that either had no bearing on anything or else related to some plot detail I couldn’t remember because I couldn’t be sufficiently arsed.

And the play-out benefited from giving Signe Edholm Olsen full rein to play the out and out psycopath Stine always was, from the I-am-a-victim denials with which she met Jan’s interrogation through to the avenging fury out to visit betrayal back on her family.

It all came down to that rape by big brother Mikkel, that he lied about to his parents and to Stine’s face, even when he knew she knew the truth. Louise got onto it, and believed Stine, which was more than anyone else ever had. She’d been a troubled child, a troubled teenager. She used to make horrible accusations against anyone she was angry with, which did lead you to think her parents may not have been wholly unjustified in automatically taking Mikkel’s story over hers.

But she’d told the truth (and he’d been trying to catch her half-naked since she was twelve) and they’d betrayed her. They’d chosen him, and even after he’d ranted at her in front of them that she’d ‘been asking for it’ (they always say that, don’t they?) you could see that belief hadn’t shifted.

Louise thought that believing would get Stine to tell them where Emma Holst was. And she gave them what they wanted, but it was a lie. And she stole a policeman’s gun and a police car, and when she found Anders prepared to release Emma, she killed him and started turning Emma into her confidante: Stockholm Syndrome in Copenhagen.

Stine went after her parents. She shot big brother Mikkel in the stomach, and father Ole in the back. Mikkel didn’t make it and I couldn’t summon up much sympathy, but Ole did, and he deserved it no better. He had never had any doubts about Stine being black to the core, denied her a psychologist when it might have mattered but the truly unforgivable thing was that when Stine offered him the chance to get out, and leave his wife behind, he got up and started to shuffle out.

In the end, Jan saves the day: despite a bullet in the shoulder from Stine, he jumps her and belts her several times across the face until she’s unconscious.

So it was all over bar the fuzzy little bits at the end. Louise is half-expecting an invite to dinner from Jan but he doesn’t offer and she walks away without a backward glance, that cliche stuck firmly back in the drawer. The rescued Emma refuses to see her parents. It’s a hint at that aforementioned Stockholm Syndrome, but it’s a red herring: Emma was brought up religious and was a virgin, and she is ashamed of what’s been done to her. But Louise persuades her that they do not blame her, and their reunion is a brief moment of tear-jerking love.

But there’s that waffly bit. The last episode started with the sixteen year old Stine being dropped off at boarding school where she’s to room with the perky, peppy, bubbly, innocent and far too nice Maja. You fair dreads it on the spot. Was Maja in the story somewhere? The last scene is Stine in prison, visiting her psychologist, who naturally enough is Louise, there being only one criminal psychologist in the whole of Copenhagen. Stine is flat and dull. But as the scene goes to black, her voice takes on an added relish as she voice overs: “Maja had a big brother. Would you like me to talk about him?”

Anyone with a clue as to what that’s supposed to mean when it’s home with its pinny on, please leave a comment.

There’s no Skandi next week, so I can take a breather. Hoping for a good one, next time.

 

Saturday SkandiKrime: Darkness: Those Who Kill episodes 3 & 4


The awkward couple

It didn’t even take half the first episode this week to have it confirmed that this story is going to be stretched out way beyond its meagre ability to entertain, and it only took the self-same episode to establish that Those Who Kill is not going to offer us anything original in terms of developing its sordid little tale.

This latter moment was brought to us by Emma, the newly-taken of Anders Kjelvard’s two little-blonde-girl prisoners in the fortified basement of Avis lady Stine’s house. Julie, who has been prisoner six months, is broken, unable to fight or resist or hope, convinced that Emma’s arrival means her time is up. In this, she is correct.

But Emma still has spirit. She frees a length of piping from the supply to the washing machine and, when Anders comes to take Julie, she cracks him over the head with it and, when he goes down, does so a second time. He’s helpless, dazed, semi-conscious at best. My God, when will someone, anyone, take this as a cue to beat his fucking brains out? Smash his skull to pulp, make sure he doesn’t get up ever again. You know, incapacitate him.

Oh no, two whacks, just daze him and then run up the stairs to the locked door by which you are trapped and here he is. Emma gets her head punched, Julie gets her finger cut off and her body wrapped in plastic, though only the red smear on the plastic alerts you to the finger thing.

That’s arrived in the story courtesy of Louise, our lovely psychologist, suggesting the files be combed (in Sweden too) for connectable cases. So it’s off to the country of Saga Noren, Landskrim, Malmo (who is dearly needed to give this dull tosh some life) to a dead body with a missing finger and a wierd mix of matching and non-matching M.O. characteristics.

Throw in a rift between our lead investigator and our psychologist, because the latter thoughtlessly psychologises the former over his foul-mouthed and ignorant ill temper at learning his ex-, Annemarie, is not gravitating back to him but has, for the last four months, been gravitating towards the loins of Danny (who’s he, and does it matter?).

Throw it out, conveniently on the way to a lead that uncovers three bodies, all nine-fingered, dumped in a slurry tank by dear sweet Anders. Have Anders turn up with Julie’s body, realise his plans are up the slurry, add in a short car chase in which Jan the Man is too easily thrown off after reading only seven characters off Anders’ number-plate, and I’m left with nothing. It’s too feeble even to snark. Where are the Salamanders of this world?

But that still left episode 4. Might that have more meat on its bones, and might that meat be tasty, or at least stringy enough to go after heartily?

We began the second part with a micro-flashback to a girl walking along a deserted road, rejecting the offer of a lift on a bike then accepting it second time. He’s Anders, she’s Stine. Later on, the now isolated Emma gets Stine to talk to her, to admit she’s a victim of Anders too, taken into the woods a virgin, raped, afraid for her life, under his thumb. But Emma’s talk of God persuades Stine to release her, taken far away, blindfolded, in the trunk of her car. Hold that thought.

Jan, aka tall, dark, gloomy and a miserable shit on top of that, is driving around aimlessly, looking for the car he lost last night and being pretty bloody. When Louise suggests there are better ways of using their time, he throws her out at a bus stop (nothing due for hours) and tells her to fuck off. Then his colleagues report finding the car in a gravel pit. The dead Julie is in the trunk. The pathologist places time of death between five and seven. When Jan chased the car at three a.m., Julie was still alive.

That’s a pretty devastating blow, though with one-note Jan it’s hard to tell, except by his resigning from the Police, driving to the former marital home and starting work on the bathroom. Of course Annemarie will welcome him back and it’ll all go back to normal, like it was before. Clue: no it won’t.

It’s a dumb move, mere padding for the story as this whole subplot clearly is, and padding with a hole in it that an entire water tank could slide through, since the only person he tells he’s resigned to is Louise, you know, the useless psychologist he treats with utter contempt.

It needs to be Louise for the scene where she spots that Julie is wearing Emma’s other earring, thus drawing him back, but it’s still a spot of crappy scriptwriter’s convenience.

There’s another hole in the plot too, and that’s about Julie. We saw her being wrapped in plastic at the end of episode 3, ring finger removed, and Anders was taking her to be dumped in the slurry pit, where he’s already dropped three bodies. Bodies, not live people. Julie died after this.

And our intrepid police band wind up episode 4 by determining that Anders is not working alone. He’s a sexual predator, turned on by absolute power. His accomplice is the killer, and ring finger souvenir-taker. And guess what? It’s Stine. Only the timelines don’t work for the twin modus operandi.

Halfway through, the show’s trying to be dead clever and only revealing itself to be dead stupid. At least, the way things are going, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Jan and Louise are going to shag next week. If we ask nicely, we may get away without it happening at all…

Saturday SkandiThriller: Below the Surface 2 – episodes 5 & 6


Our Russian Friend

Well.

The first half of this week’s double bill kept us alert with a revelation, two connections and a twist at the end of episode 5 that, in a UK series, we’d see through in an Oresund heartbeat, and which even here was pretty hard to take completely seriously. With three episodes left, even the most hard-edged, risk-taking thriller series is not going to kill off both of its two leads at once, but just how the trick was going to be worked was something that set a high bar for episode 6.

Like a high-speed 24, we’re now into the daylight hours of the series, dawn creeping up and everyone still working overtime to be ready to resolve the hostage situation on the ferry. But the revelation, which explains just why the Russians are behind Yusuf and the kidnap plot, comes in one of two flashbacks for June. Remember that infamous footage she has of Danish solidiers being killed in Syria? They are being killed by the Russians: hence our cool peroxide blondewith the sleek Nineties hairdo being so eager to recover the mobile phone with the footage.

Which is currently held by dog-groomer Herdis, who sat next to June on the plane out of Syria, with her do Benji: that’s the connection. And by the halfway pointthis week, the Russians have Herdis’s name and her whereabouts.

But the trail is developing, and of course it’s the reliable SP and Simon who are on it. After his moment of indecision last week, Garnov is out, and the guy who stepped in (whose name and position I can’t at this moment recall or determine) has taken temporary charge. Meanwhile, our two most professional lieutennts have picked up Rafiq Hussain, owner of the apartment where the self-styled Brothers of Islam have their ‘mosque’ and hauled him in. And when the self-righteous Rami, out there on the boat – the biggest kind of religious idiot, sure he is right and everyone else will roll over because Allah is on his side – decides that Yusuf isn’t as smart as Rami thinks and calls Rafiq to get them to Syria (just like that: Allah will provide, remember), that gives SP and Simon what they need to link Rafiq to the Ferry, and turn him.

We learn that Yusuf is a nwcomer, more radical than though. Remember, that’s Ola Rapace under that face-fuzz, so just as Alpha in series one was only playing being a Muslim, I’m anticipating tht Yusuf too is playing a part we don’t yet know about.

Rami, however, is your original radical. Little brother Mahdi will be safe and will achieve paradise because Rami the blind fanatic says so. All he’s got to do is put a bag over June’s head and Philip’s head, shoot them both, film it. Philip, who’s been frozen half to death, sprayed with scalding water and hung several times and who consequently is not at the top of his game, tries to talk him out of it. He has a wife (Rami has already written her off for Mahdi) and he’s going to have a son. Philip’s offering a kind of Witness Protection.

And Mahdi puts a bag over June’s head and Philip’s head, shoots them both, films it. Both bodies go in the water under Raman’s proud-of-my-little-brother eye. How did they get around that?

Actually, it’s easy. There are two dead bodies hanging round, one male, one female, one dead terrorist convert, one dead canteen lady, and all that’s needed is a change of clothes. And now Philip’s got a certain freedom of movement on the boat, with the assistance of a blind eye from Mahdi, who wants back to his wife and son-to-be, but can’t bring himself to let the engineer (who’s been hiding out in the engine room all this time) gas Rami to death.

Rami and Mahdi’s little trick with ‘philip’ and ‘June’ has gone world-wide on the net, even as far as our dangerous Russian blonde (who hasn’t yet got to Herdis in Jutland in episode 6: the roads must be busy). Yusuf is now on his own with no reason to trust his amateur allies, so he starts negotiating with Garnov, who has to be brought back into the fold for this.

Philip’s also able to liaise ship-to-shore, guiding the authorities towards a plan to pretend to offer the terrorists a plane to Syruia whilsat guiding them to an island from which there are multiple attack angles. So the Ferry starts to move. As do SP and Simon, doggedly following June’s trail, discovering her home laptop is bugged by military hardware (Bulow denies it’s Danish), and now they’re off to Jutland. I have a bad feeling about this.

It’s all starting to turn inwards towards the end-game. According to the Observer, we’re heading towards a climax even bigger and better than last season. I don’t exactly see eye to eye with the Observer on a lot of things and their idea of better isn’t necessarily mine. But I’m watching very closely…

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.