Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money 2 – parts 7 & 8


It was a long old double episode this week, covering a lot of ground, so much so that the two episodes felt, at times, like transmissions from different series. That this was so was down to the performance of Maverick Mess.

The first part, episode 7, could have been sub-titled ‘that idiot at his fucking worst’ and I would have still thought it didn’t go far enough. The BBC blurb had it that Mads was impatient, and that too was an understatement. Given that he spent the entire hour either raging at his boss, or raging at Alf, his trusty sidekick, for not being willing to completely smash the law to pursue Mess’s vendetta against Big Bad Knud, or else lying and bullying to smash the law in direct defiance of temp boss Henrietta’s instructions, and incidentally seeing Amoral Claudia at Absolen Bank, jumping to completely the wrong conclusion about her working for Big Bad Knud and then lying and bullying first her Parole Officer then Claudia herself, this was a fine example of how not to run a Fraud Squad based on intricate investigation, careful collection and interpretation of sensitive and intricate information and, above all, PATIENCE, you cretin!

Mess was on the rampage, convinced of his own rightness, his own righteousness, heedless of the concept that just because a thought had crossed the lonely wastelands of his mind, that did not make it concrete and irrefutable fact.

No greater demonstration of this was there than the end of the episode when Claudia (being illegally wiretapped) accepted the lovely Amanda’s suggestion to set up a meeting with Big Bad Knud. The Police have the meeting (legally) wire-tapped and Mess is all sweary and up himself about how Claudia lets Mr Christensen know the fuzz are onto his Risk Management Departmennt scam, so he’d better hut it down (on, and by the way, hand us back those one-sixth of Absolen customers you were stealing, to put through the ringer).

Mess goes mental, he goes postal, he goes abso-bloody-lutely crackers at how he’s been betrayed, until even Alf spits back at him for what a fucking disgrace he is as both copper and human being. And then the script slaps Mess one around the chops as Claudia phones them up to tell them what she’s done, and that they now have her in a trusted position where she can get the dirt for them on Big Bad Knud.

Ah.

Collapse, if there were any justice, of stout party, but Mess is our hero, so the twonk gets away with barely even apologising, and behaves properly, sensibly, reasonably and even to a large extent like a Fraud Squad policeman throughout episode 8.

Then again, much of Mess’s time in the second half is diverted towards his real agenda, which is Vendetta. Mess still wants Sander Sodergren, and he wants him bad, so now he’s actually on good terms with Claudia, she spills to him two key facts. Firsrtly, that Sander’s first destination on leaving Denmark was to be Frankfurt, and secondly the alias under which he was traveling: Stig Lorentzen. She also tells him that Sander was not alone, that P, the Swede, was with him.

Thus, by a process of real deduction, our Maverick is able to track Sander to Sao Paolo in Brazil (it looked like Greece to me, but hell, I’ve never been to either one), where he disappears. At this point, a very Sander-specific unsolved murder victim crops up, soon DNA-ed and ID-ed. And by comparing passenger lists on the flight route, our boys track one Bo Peterson, a Swede aged 59, who’s recently been in hospital…

So Mess and Alf call on P’s home away from home, catching him as he’s packing to leave. Mess has warned Alf in advance that this is the guy who killed his lady reporter friend Mia in series one. P shuffles about weakly, denies everything, fakes a heart attack, needs his pills. Alf follows him to the bathroom, but instead of pills, P )or should we now call him Bo?) produces a silenced gun from the bathroom cabinet and shoots Alf twice in the stomach with it.

Alf is not yet dead, which is a surprise, given P’s experience and skill level, but he’s in a really shitty situation, and that’s the cliff-hanger on which we pause.

Obviously, I’ve concentrated for so long on Mess, but Claudia’s story has gotten intertwined with his, and as we reach the end, Nicky’s is about to cross lines in a manner that has been so thoroughly foreshadowed this week that we don’t need the last two episodes to know where that’s going.

But Claudia first. I’ve already mentioned how Nova are digging their claws into Absolen by extending their Risk Management team role to one whole sixth of Absolen’s customers. Amanda is horrified but Simon isn’t. He’s so very thoroughly already gone native with Nova and Big Bad Knud, the muppet, and is using Nova to expand Absolen by taking over a progressive French Bank, Credit Thingy (whose chief Legal Adviser just so happens to be Amoral Claudia’s ex, and father to her boy Bertram, Steen).

Claudia tries to head Nova off by getting Steen to slow down the sale, put conditions on that will shut Nova out, but Steen’s on the edge of financial ruin if this deal doesn’t go through. Demonstrating that she can be at least as ruthless when she wants, Claudia goes behind his bank, only to find that Credit Wotzit (begins with an S, that’s all I can remember) is desperate for the money.

And we find out why in the second half, courtesy of a Nova risk manager who gets abruptly terminated, and who should be escorted out of the country by Nicky. He spills the beans to Amanda and Claudia: Credit Oojah has a lot of dodgy loans out to French tech firms and if the tech market drops just one leedle percentage point, it’ll drag the French Bank under.

And if it drops just one half more, guess which Danish bank goes with it?

And whilst we’re guessing things, just what do you think Big Bad Knud is manipulating?

Simon, the would-be Knud Jr, gets presented with the evidence that he’s been nothing more than a sheep in sheep’s clothing among all these wolves, and can see for himself that all those promises Christensen made aren’t worth the air in which he spoke them: Big Bad Knud does not write things down, as Claudia has found, trying to get some evidence of fraud that points to him, not her. Whilst she and Amanda rally to call an overnighter to rescue Absolen, all Simon can do is sob.

And Claudia, after Christensen didn’t fall for her ‘sign here and here’ trick, is mortally afraid she’s been blown. When she hears about Sander, it’s not just him and the memory of that screw on the kitchen table she weeps for. Mess’s assurances that he and Alf will look after her are of curiously little comfort. And she’s right to be scared: she’s being followed by Nicky.

About time we got to him. After last week’s balls-up with little Olga, Nicky’s in the doghouse. P won’t return his calls, two men in a black car are permanently hanging around the garage, his little boy Milas goes missing for a few minutes. Nicky can’t take it: he grabs and tortures one of P’s men, holds the Swede’s daughter and gunpoint and tracks him down, threatening him to his face.

But P/Bo has been training Nicky up to take over for him, and he talks Nicky down, until the only person he uses the gun on is the thug who led him there, killed in cold blood.

So Nicky replaces P as Big Bad Knud’s go-to guy. He’s still not flawless, but he’s getting there, and all it costs him is the ability to respond to his lovely wife, Lina.

And right at the end there, he’s following Claudia, and she leaves a file for Mess at his house, with the lovely but weary Kristina. Kristina, whose late-life baby bump is now showing a long way out. Kristina, who’s been told that her sclerosis has been concealing a quite advanced case of cystitis. Kristina, who’d been told she needs complete rest or she’s at risk of premature delivery (i.e., miscarriage). Kristina, whose idiot husband is so obsessed with nailing Big Bad Knud, he can’t spare a second to listen to her so she has to confide in Alf instead.

Kristina, home alone with a file in a house towards which Nicky is advancing, under instructions from Christensen to get it back…

So  tune in next week for the inevitable, and whatever else is planned to end series 2. And don’t worry about Alf, shot twice in the stomach at contact range by a master-assassin: whilst trying to find out the name of that blasted French Bank, I happened to catch site of the blurb for episode 10. Alf hasn’t bought it. The Main Character Exemption applies again. I bet Mess could survive being hit by an Atom Bomb…

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money II – episodes 3 & 4


So far, she’s coming out the best

After last week’s snark-infested introduction to the second series of Bedrag (Deception), I found the next pair of episodes to be extremely confusing. On the one hand, the show is displaying clear signs of taking off into very serious, and very deep-lying waters, in all three of its inter-twined strands. On the other, my distaste for each of its’ trio of heroes is growing, and in one case is turning into disgust.

The dichotomy presented itself in the opening moments of episode 3, which immediately had me both admiring and groaning, and which became emblematic of what was to follow.

We ended last week with Nicky, growing increasingly curious about the business of the enigmatic but laid-up-with-heart-trouble P, tracing the fruits of the wiretap back to the Big Bad, Knud Christensen, but being caught out trespassing by the man himself. Christensen is all avuncular and secure, wanting Nicky’s name and threatening him with the Police. But Nicky, who in series 1 would have panicked nearly as badly as would Bimse the Bozo, counter-threatens by revealing that he is wire-tapping for Christensen, who lets him go (though not without a warning, to both Nicky then, and P very shortly afterwards, about how unwise such things are).

Nicky, having successfully faced down the Man, returns to his car. Where he promptly reverts to most abject cliche by pounding on his steering wheel to relieve his frustrations. Seriously, does anyone outside crap television ever pound on their steering wheel in frustration? And they always do it three times: not four, not two, but bam! bam! bam! Cripes.

But the problem is that, as the various stories start to unroll properly, we start to see that Follow the Money 2 is getting very serious indeed. On the one hand, we have the Fraud Squad, investigating what appears to be a disgusting scheme by one of Denmark’s major financial institution, Nova Bank, to force small but promising businesses into bankruptcy so that their assets and customers can be taken over by already-established businesses at an undervalue.

Then we have Nova Bank trying to takeover the up-and-coming and entirely innovative Absolen Bank in a very hostile manner, applying public pressure and naked appeal to Shareholders’ greed on the one level, and dirty tricks on the other.

Christensen is behind both of these schemes and, on the third hand, we have P carrying out the dirty aspects of the jobs by remotely operating the increasingly efficient Nicky to wire-tap, deal drugs, blackmail and, entirely off his own bat, viciously assault and probably seriously injure someone who stands up to him.

Let’s stick with Nicky for the moment. Remember that he started off in series 1 as an experienced car thief, looking to clean up his act for his wife and her baby bump by becoming a garage owner, but getting mixed up with the rather more active P. By this series, he was a regular ’employee’ of the Swede fixer, as primarily a messenger boy, but P’s health problems (double-bypass heart operation) have led to him being promoted to an active role as his stand-in.

What we’re watching here is Nicky going through an apprenticeship to become another P.  He’s taking to it like a duck to water, which is disturbing to watch. For the sake of his wife and his trusting kids, you want him to come to his senses, back out, go back to just petty crime (because this guy is never going to actually go straight, you can tell).

But already it looks like its going to be too late. Nicky forced Bimse into a dangerous scheme to recover P’s Black Audi, that Bimse has sold to an East European gang for shipment abroad, and all so that he can tell Bimse to take it to the Police, cough for Nicky’s assault on Mess last week, and do Nicky’s time for it. Sure, he’ll get 20,000 kr a month for it, but if the Bozo won’t voluntarily do a head-first into the shark-infested pool, Nicky will kick him in there, without a a qualm, and without any 20,000 kr a month.

If that’s not enough of a bastard’s trick, Nicky’s next job is to provide drugs to the son of a major investor in Absolen Bank, and blackmail the Dad into voting Nova’s way to ensure the photos don’t get into the Press. On the way, Nicky ends up snorting coke himself and, whilst coked out of his brain, staying out all night and impliedly shagging P’s daughter.

Let’s just go back a moment for a brief scene where Nicky tells his missus that he hates his dead father, who assaulted him and cheated on his mother. Unusually, the scripters have her ask and him explain why he’s never told her this before, which he passes off, indirectly, as a determination to leave it in the past, but which is really so that we will readily understand his loss of control when, the takeover bid having failed, he pursues the Dad, who didn’t vote for Nova Bank, and kicks the potentially living shit out of him for not defending his son.

One youngish man, on a dark path, leading only downwards. I bet P doesn’t take too kindly to Nicky shagging his daughter…

I’ve already had to reveal that the Nova Bank takeover has been thwarted, at least for now. This is the story for Claudia the Amoral. Claudia is determined to stop Christensen having this victory, and says so, impassionedly, to convince another top-ranking businessman to enter the fray as a White Knight. The big problem, and this is directly voiced by our old friend, Jens Kristian, is whether Claudia means this, or whether it’s a ploy.

Claudia says she means it, but we have our doubts still. Claudia is still set on getting her life back as quickly as possible, which suggests that she’s not thoroughly internalised the message that massive fraud and dirty financial tricks are not ideal behaviour. She’s already trying to skirt some of the conditions of her parole, and expecting her Parole Officer to bend the rules in her direction, just because that’s what she wants.

Of course, she’s ideal to head off Nova Bank’s takeover, because she knows what sort of dirty tricks, above board, that they’ll use. Pardon my ignorance of such things, both here and in Denmark, but do companies aiming for a takeover really get to go on TV finance programmes and basically say that the people refusing to sell smaller, successful, innovative, creative enterprises are a bunch of shits for not letting us buy them out considerably over the odds so that we can destroy absolutely everything remotely innovative about them and just make shitloads of money (I paraphrase)?

Claudia’s biggest problems are the Absolen twins. Simon is basically a wet and a weed and of no practical help whatsoever (until the very end of episode 4, to which we’ll come shortly). Unfortunately, the very much more effective Amanda (hello, Sonia Richter) doesn’t like Claudia that much, doesn’t agree that she’s completely and utterly right, and is, let’s not forget, a recovering coke addict (and I don’t mean Diet, or Cherry).

And Amanda is struggling. There’s a powerful scene, opening episode 4, where she’s at Narcotics Anonymous, where she’s bitter and sarcastic, wanting – needing – a fix, and unwilling to accept what she sees as platitudes from the others in the group. It’s suggested, very cleverly, that Amanda is a very intelligent woman, much more so than the people her life causes her to associate with, and that her use of drugs and drinks is to suppress the frustration of cdealing with those she sees as stupid.

That’s bent in a slightly different direction later when, to Claudia, she affirms that she’s starting one of those periods where she keeps getting strange thoughts. She says this whilst constantly sipping from a wine-glass she keeps refilling. The inference is a mental issue, as is a reference to enjoying being the centre of attention, but it’s not inconsistent with the notion that she’s simply too bloody bright for everyone else. There also some hints at secrets in the background of the relationship of the twins (an incestuous fascination frustrated by Simon’s supposed homosexuality?).

Anyway, Amanda’s out of control and in no fit state to be the Bank’s public face in the EGM that will decide its fate. But when the already lesser Simon is completely floored by having his entire speech, word for word, given by Nova Bank’s representative, Claudia has to get Amanda in at the last second, for a crowd-turning speech that saves the day.

Am I the only viewer who is wondering if this miracle recovery was brought about by Claudia slipping Amanda a fix? Let’s see.

Before leaving this strand, let us pause to recognise that Simon isn’t quite the weak link he has been presented to be thus far. Claudia’s too busy putting out fires (and enjoying a surely premature sneer at Christensen) to care about the plagiarised speech, and the excitable Amanda dismisses it as Simon having been too bloody predictable, but he’s suspicious. Very suspicious. And on the right trail. It takes ripping the room apart, but episode 4 ends with Simon finding the wire-tap, with an entirely justifiable cackle.

I’ve saved the worst for last, and the worst is Maverick Mess. You already know what I think of him, but honestly, throughout these two hours, this idiot topped himself over and over again. I mean, at one point, his boss, Nanna, head of the Fraud Squad, screams in his face that he’s so bloody naive, he only sees things in black and white, which is spot on the money (he also can’t wait two seconds for anything, the big kid), and then the programme has him acting like he’s the winner, and in the right.

Basically, he and Alf, with the increasing assistance of the computer wizard, Henriette (this series’ version of The Bridge‘s John: there’s only ever one person who know how to do more with a computer than surf Facebook), are building a case. It starts with Nova Bank’s Bjarke Strand, the middle-manager on the Crisis Team, who selects which small businessmen are to be forced to the wall. Mess and Alf investigate him for signs of unreasonable wealth, of which there are none, until he’s caught stepping out with an attractive blonde (tsk. And he with the lovely and trusting Lise for a wife, plus eighteen month old twins).

Mess proposes to stalk Strand, get proof of his affair and blackmail him into coughing up, which is probably page 5 of the Fraud Squad Operating Model. Instead, it turns out far more than an affair. It’s a business deal, with prominent businessmen. The blonde is a professional Trustee in Bankruptcy, who sells off the businesses forfeited by Nova Bank (at a precise 7% below valuation every time), to these very businessmen.

Mess, very professionally, and now on page 7 of the Fraud Squad Operating Model, shows her photos of Hans Peter with his head in a pool of his own blood and shouts in her face until she inadvertently gives something away.

Moving on to page 8, he arrests Strand and, when he won’t talk, promptly calls in a favour and has the claustrophobic Strand taken to a spare cell in prison for the 24 hours until he has to be arraigned. Fur hilven! I don’t mean the Police cells, I mean an honest-to-goodness, doing-their-bird, fucking State Prison!

It works, of course, we are in idiot country here and given what issues the series is starting to develop (and I haven’t even finished exploring them all), we get stupidity like this? Strand knows nothing more than that he’s told who to push over the edge, from a higher-up department, but he has something interesting to tell them: he knew they were coming.

That catches our intrepid pair’s attention. Yes, Strand was warned they were on the way to arrest him, and was told to get out of the country for a few days, because it’ll all blow over, the fix is in, the case will not proceed, the Head of the Fraud Squad will kill it.

This isn’t actually news to the viewer. Episode 3 ended with Nanna insisting on getting every detail of the burgeoning case, and then calling on Christensen, though episode 4 suggested that she wasn’t entirely under his thumb, just going to make sure that the investigation didn’t get above a certain level at Nova Bank. Of course Mess, with that subtlety for which he’s famed, heads straight for this restaurant-cum-bar where Nanna is out with some bloke and accuses her at thhe top of his voice of being in Christensen’s pay. Smart cookie.

And yes, Nanna has to obey some orders. Christensen’s got a hold over her. And guess what it is? It’s all Mess’s illegal fuck-ups from series 1, over Energreen. Nanna covered for Mess and Alf over everything. She put her job on the line for him, and her reward was to have Christensen lean on her to interfere with this investigation, and the dumb, stupid, self-centred fuck can’t even lessen his contempt for her not being as pure in pursuit of crooks as he is.

Do you wonder why I loathe the self-righteous bastard?

What Nanna does next is resign, which is a highly principled step at deep personal cost to herself – cost brought on because Mess was such a stupid bastard in series 1, let’s remember – and what is the git’s response? I mean, she’s not just thrown herself on the sacrificial sword to protect him, she’s left them a lead that points directly to Christensen himself at the top of every woodpile. Does Mess how the slightest sign of personal responsibility? No, he’s just pleased to have an obstacle removed, and Alf drips on his neck that it’s Mess’s shining example that’s inspired Nanna to do the decent thing.

Do you wonder why I find this series confusing?

But that, even now, is not all. There is the lovely Kristina, Mess’s wife (though she doesn’t wear a ring), mother to his children, Esther (who has vanished without explanation) and Albert, and putative mother to a third baby. Only Kristina has sclerosis. And doubts.

Serious doubts. About her age, her condition, her future and the fact that she might not have a long one. She has very serious concerns about birthing a baby that may very well lose its mother at an incredibly young age. What mother, or possible mother, could face a late-life pregnancy in such circumstances without very deep thought about the consequences?

But Mess wants the baby. And what Mess wants, Mess has to get. It’s all dead simple to Mess. We didn’t have Esther and Albert under ideal circumstances. Look at this home movies of our children when they were dead young. It’ll all work out. It might not happen. I CAN’T THINK ABOUT IT.

There’s a line Mess has, when Kristine brings up the real chance that she might die sooner rather than later. “I can’t go around thinking that you’re dead already.” It shows that the scriptwriters are not entirely stupid. It’s an incredible line, I feel it, I understand it, I understand how this feels to him, all from that one line. He loves her, he doesn’t want to lose her.

But he’s also insisting on her having this baby, at her age, in her incurable medical condition, out of her body, with all her fears and doubts, and he’s prepared to emotionally blackmail her to get his way, and take a risk with shortening her life, and he won’t even fucking think about her side of it?

Do you seriously wonder why I loathe the self-centred twat?

So. Let’s hope for something a bit better next week. Suddenly, we have a story worth watching, worth thinking about. I just wish we had a set of ‘heroes’ I could better respect to play it out.

Saturday SkandiKrime: Follow the Money parts 9 & 10


Bedrag(gled) cast
Bedrag(gled) cast

So much to cover in so little time.

No, scratch that. In the end, though Follow the Money devoted its last two episodes to completely undoing Energreen’s comprehensive untouchability after episode 8, there was curiously little to the conclusion. Episode 9 started badly, with the most crass scene of the entire series, showing Maverick Mess in the worst of all possible lights as a set-up to his completely cocking everything under the sun up, leading to the eventual collapse of the entire case, amid petulant self-justifications.

Fortunately, by that point, Energreen had been exposed as a morass of fraud, had collapsed into bankruptcy and all the bad guys bar the really untouchable ones were on their way to their respective fates, so it didn’t really matter. Which was kind of the problem with the series from the very beginning.

It was all down to Maverick Mess. It’s poor Mia’s funeral, and the service has started, and poor Alf is sat there, grave and sorrowful, in suit and tie and in walks Mess in leather jacket and jeans, plonking himself down in the pew behind and starting to go over this hot new lead he’s got, oblivious to Alf’s desire to mourn his friend. As I said, crass and unnecessary, and any sympathies I had left for our hero evaporated on the spot, as did my respect for Alf for not getting back to the office and kicking the living shit out of Mess.

Anyway, our local bull is still showing the entire Fraud Squad how to do their highly-specialised, serious and complex job that he’s only been doing for weeks. It’s all down to Energreen’s seriously optimistic and completely dodgy prospectus, the one put together by Ulrik, which has Amoral Claudia wetting her knickers over how it doesn’t fit in with Sander’s promise to clean up the act and let her go, scot-free, with a few millions tucked into her knicker elastic.

Basically, she was starting to realise that Sander could hide behind a corkscrew and couldn’t play things straight if you stretched him on a rack at exactly the same time as she was letting him pull down her sexy black sleeping knickers and fuck her on the kitchen units. So much for subtle symbolism.

Because Mess demonstrates to Alf and Henriette that Energreen actually has no money, that it’s coffers are literally empty, that it’s stoney broke and the moment a creditor starts asking for some serious debt to be repaid, it’s all up the swanee. Why don’t we get West Zealand Bank to do so, says Mess, as if this is a bright idea. You can’t do that, points out Alf, it’s illegal, it’ll destroy the case, it’ll taint ALL the evidence as much as dipping it in sewage and deep-frying it for three hours in a pigshit batter would do.

So Mess photocopies the evidence at night and gets the Bank to do it.

This time, Amoral Claudia’s legal bluffery  and threats can’t head it off. The only recourse for Sander is to borrow 200 million krone from Head of the Board, Mr Christensen, a white-bearded, gently jovial, nice old grandfather type, who’s the real power behind everything. Only Mr Christensen cuts him off then denounces Energreen on TV as a Fraud Shop.

It’s on! Mess is quite gloatingly smug as the Fraud Squad moves in to take down Energreen, Sander, Claudia and poor poor pitiful Ulrik. The shit has hit the proverbial Scandinavian natural pine fan, and all we have to do is watch the mopping up.

Whilst waiting for Mess’s mess to blow up in everybody’s face.

But before we get to the final episode, let us not forget Nicky and the Bozo. Unfortunately for them, Peter’s mother is sick. You remember Peter? Arrogant bastard inside trader, paid 4,000,000 euros to flee the country before Nicky nicked his car and the incriminating iPad? His Mum’s sick so he’s back in Denmark, except that P is aware of it and is hustling him out again. Peter gets snitty about how P nicked 2,000,000 back again, which clues our favourite Swedish bad guy in to just how involved Nicky has been.

So he wants the money back, all 15,000,000 of it (it’s been converted to krone by now, remember, by Eric the luckless dodgy accountant). Ok, 3,000,000’s been spent, so Nicky can pay him 12,000,000 now and the rest in instalments. But when father-in-law Jan refuses to part with his 4,000,000, P gets a little wrathy. Until Boxo Bimse crushes his skull with seven or eight smashes with a tyre iron.

Oh, no, wait, all that vigorous beating hasn’t smashed P’s skull in like any ordinary 60 year old human’s would have been, it’s merely given him a headache and a small trickle of blood. As it does. Jan drives him off to dump him somewhere, but P recovers well enough to stab Jan in the shoulder with a ball-point pan and escape.

Ah, but now it’s payback time for Mighty Mess’s Power Rangers. Dawn raids on Claudia – defiant – Sander – calm – and Ulrik – runs off scared shitless into the woods – ensue. Claudia, who has had plenty of opportunities to do the right thing but who has unerringly plumped for the shitty, criminal option every time, initially shields Sander until he tells her its all over, and everyone for themselves. So she dictates a deal to the cops: she shops Sander, they drop lots of charges and give her eighteen months electronic tagging.

Ulrik, having broken, commits suicide in the office. Sander publicly admits fraud but claims personal ignorance and shock. Christensen promptly has the contents of the iPad printed out and delivers these by hand to the Police, blowing any need for Claudia’s deal out of the water. She’s going dooooown!

So now they’re really in the deep shit, Sander and Claudia decide to run away together, find a place in the sun far from all this madness, this corruption, these Danish extradition warrants. Should they have bothered? Maverick Mess has now got it into his head that Old Man Christensen is just as much a fraudster, and wants to go after him now. Unfortunately, Maverick Mess is such a fucking idiot that he talks about West Zealand Bank to the guy behind a nationwide fraud. It’s facepalm time.

Back to Nicky. Lina, understandably pissed off at him, drives away from their ramshackle little hidey-hole and gets captured by P. Nicky, without telling Bozo, takes the whole 12,000,000 (including Jan’s share) to exchange it. P honours the exchange. Nicky, who doesn’t know when he’s onto a good thing, then tries to negotiate for 2,000,000 back. For their trouble, you know. Instead of simply killing him on the spot, it seems there is something Nicky can do to earn it…

So, the stage is set. Claudia and Sander sneak off to the airport, unaware the Alf has them under close observation and is ready to arrest them at any moment. Unfortunately, when Alf moves in, our devious duo have pulled a switch. Two young look-a-likes, hired to drive the car to the airport, have been substituted. It is Nicky and his girl Lina, in a dark wig.

Let’s just round up their tale. Nicky buys Jan out of their garage with 1,000,000 leaving 1,000,000 for him and the Bozo. Bimse, whose been kept in the dark over  this whilst his half-share in 8,000,000 has been incorporated into the ransom for Nicky’s wife and baby, flies into a fury and walks out.

And then walks back in to say that he would have given up his half for them if Nicky had only asked, so it’s all smiles, deep friendship and no consequences for our least important part of the plot.

As for Claudia, she gets to the point of half way down the runway in Dander’s private jet before the thought of separation from little Bertram overwhelms her. Stop the plane, I want to get off! And Sander lets her. She phones Mess to let him know where to arrest her, providing she gets 10 minutes with Bertram first. Claudia will do her porridge.

But Mess, all eager to go after Christensen, finds it’s all blown up in his face. The case is dead, over, finished, kaput. Christensen has got hold of the confidential documents that tipped West Zealand Bank into action (well, I never, didn’t see that one coming). And they’ve been traced to the office copier…

Mess is furious. He’s the only guy that counts here. Without him, they’d have nothing. He’s the only one who cares about nailing fraud! It’s arrant bullshit, but we’re doomed to the programme taking this specious crap seriously because, hell’s bells, mavericks are the only just men on this earth, no matter how many fucking laws they break in the process. Fraud Squad Head Nanna demands his badge. Then Alf confesses to doing it.

So Mess stays. And Alf isn’t fired for ‘doing’ the very thing Mess was going to be fired for doing. This case-cracking pair are still about to smash another corporate Fraud next season, since the Fraud Squad clearly doesn’t know how to find its own arse without Mess.

And whilst we’re with our hero, we’d better mention how his tangled personal life works out. This is the one part of the whole story in which I felt any personal investment, but it’s eventual resolution into a happy, status quo restoring ending was phoney and false.

First, it’s clear that the lovely Kristina is en route to another sclerosis attack. She’s realised things are not going to work with David the Doctor, and breaks up with him, half off-screen. Mess finds her at home, collapsed and unconscious, due to a bad attack that leaves her unable to feel her legs. David is still her Doctor (do they have NO professional ethics whatsoever in Denmark?) and wants her to remain under observation. Kristina wants to go home and she wants to go home with Mess, but first we have this scene where he wants to talk about her break-up with David and she doesn’t and she’s getting horribly guilty about how she’s hurt him so deeply, totally fucked-up his life, and she doesn’t deserve him (at which point I mentally inserted the line, ‘who says that deserve ever had anything to do with it?’) and she wants him to go away and never come back, ever again, the guilt’s too much.

So, his professional career hanging by a thread that we all know will not be cut between now and season 2, what does Mess do? He heads back to the hospital, bundlres all of Kristina’s things into a hold-all, and wheels her out in her wheelchair and dressing gown, over the Doctor’s objections. Kristina’s happy. Big old masterful Mess has taken charge of her, which gives her a tingle (I mean, she did mention wanting sex, back in episode 1) and in defiance of everything that’s happened and in contrast to every aspect of actual human behaviour, it’s going to be a happy ending.

Which leaves us only one fate left, and I confess I saw it coming. Sander’s in the sun somewhere, Greece it looks like. Sun, scenery, rich quarters, P on hand. Iced drinks and no socks. Somewhere the government’s about to start auctioning off wind farm options, along a 7,500 mile coastline. A new beginning indeed.

P’s phone rings. I knew it was going to be Mr Christensen and I knew what was coming. A few, quiet, overly non-committal responses. Yes, I’ll do that. I’ll call you back. Sander’s full of the future, until he turns round to fins himself looking down the barrel of P’s favourite silencer. One phut: dead from a bullet through the left eye. Two more phuts, to the chest, a waste of two bullets but hey, it looks good to those in the audience who’ve never seen a cliched series before.

So ends Follow the Money. I haven’t checked to see if there are plans for a second series, and apparently it hasn’t gone down all that well in Denmark, but such things usually run in threes, so Mess and Alf may be back to blunder through bigger and stupider frauds, who knows? I doubt I’ll be with them if they do.

Saturday SkandiCrime: Follow the Money parts 7 & 8


Poor Alf

It’s the penultimate week of Follow the Money and I’m only just starting to figure out this show’s credits. Water, water, rising everywhere, until everyone, not just the four stars are drowning in it, symbolising the vast ocean of fraud that only ever grows deeper and deeper until everyone’s heads are under water and there is no return to air again. Apologies if I’ve been a bit slow over that one.

That still leaves a couple of things that we’re probably going to have to wait until the conclusion to interpret. The sequence stats with our amoral compass, Claudia, on whom the first droplet appears. Many people see this as her crying, but in fact it’s a droplet from above, a single raindrop, that strikes first her forehead then falls onto her cheek, just below her eye. Is this merely a symbol of the whole Empire of Fraud and Scams landing upon her from above, without her intrinsic involvement? She is the only person on whom the water comes from above instead of welling up from below.

And what of Maverick Mess? At the other end of the sequence, whilst everyone  else just goes about their business undisturbed, he alone finds his paperwork floating away from him, whilst he flailingly tries to swim upstream to catch it.

That could definitely symbolise the end of episode 8 where, in a manner reminiscent of the last scene of Blake’s 7, all those many years ago, the bad guys win in a completely decisive manner. Energreen, and Sander, have beaten off every threat to their comprehensive fraud.

Jens Kristian, the whistle-blower whose whistle wasn’t loud enough at first, has led himself into deep waters in trying to shore up the case against Sander personally. He’s produced evidence, gained from his temporary role as substitute for Chief Financial Officer Ulrik Skov – who is cracking up good and proper – that will pull down Ulrik and the beauteous Claudia, whom he worships, but in trying to protect her, he enlists her support.

Oh dear, Jens Kristian. Is Claudia worth saving? She knows Sander is behind the hit on poor Mia, and she knows exactly how much bullshit has gone into the Financial Prospectus that makes Energreen the only company in Copenhagen once it goes public. Which she, as Head of Legal, has signed for, a one-way ticket to the pokey. But what of poor, traumatised Bertram? She can’t let him grow up with a mother on a long term jail sentence.

There is, early in episode 7, a telling if somewhat blatant scene where Claudia pays a visit to her lecturer at Law College, Ebbe. He’s a brilliant, principled man, she looks up to him, she was his star pupil. She explains the shit she’s in, and asks his advice about lying, cheating, destroying evidence and generally committing every illegality under the sun to avoid the consequences of being a criminal, and is disappointed when he tells her to come clean, uphold the Law. When she accuses him of being useless in the ‘real world’, a term which only ever gets used when someone wants to justify being a right shit in some way or other, she’s done for.

And I apologise for last week’s  frustrated outburst about how we knew she’d turn goody-goody in the end.

Because Claudia, once she’s brought into the loop about the Fraud Squad, does not waver for a moment. She acquiesces in Jens Kristian’s plan to incriminate Sander, knowing that it will backfire on him and the cops in every level, whilst Sander uses P (who, intriguingly, talks of ‘our plans’, suggesting that he isn’t just a hired assassin at Sander’s beck: I’m guessing it’s some form of Mafia, who serve Sander whilst ultimately having some form of control over him) to plant a fake file in Jens Kristian’s flat that dobs him in as a fraudster himself, tainting everything.

No wonder Sander broke with his practice of insulating himself from responsibility, and actually signed for the new scam.

Poor, sweet, honest, dumb Jens Kristian. Suspended from his job by the lovely Claudia herself, framed, and fucked (though not in the way he’d hoped of her).

To plant the fake file, P enlisted the unwilling aid of Nicky and the Bozo, whose career got more and more stupid as the night wore on. First, Nicky brings the shot and bleeding dodgy accountant Erik back to the garage, calling in his hot young blonde wife Lina – a nurse’s aid – to fix him.  Then, when it becomes clear that a Doctor would be absolutely necessary, instead of taking Erik to a hospital, which would mean the shot being reported to the Police, Nicky brings in a dodgy Doctor, via the Bozo’s old schoolmate, addict Andreas.

The Doc, however, won’t even look at Erik without 25,000 up front, so Nicky compounds his stupidity yet again by nicking it out of father-in-law Jan’s safe. Which only gives addict Andreas the idea that his old schoolfriend Bimse’s mate is a money-tree, and he comes back the next night with a swanoff shotgun, demanding more. Except that Jan has obviously noticed he’s 25,000 light (not that he mentions this to Nicky as possible justification for nicking the boys’ first customer) and changed the combination. The safe won’t open, no matter how much the hyper addict waves his gun. Something’s going to go off any moment, but when it does it’s addict Andreas’s head – shot from behind by P. Who happens to have on him the necessary materials for cleaning everything up and disposing of the body without anyone knowing there’s even been cross words spoken, let alone murder.

This is how P is able to easily ‘request’ Nicky and the Bozo to housebreak Jens  Kristian’s flat and plant the fake file.

Incidentally, before things get to this point, we have two telling scenes. First, Bozo mourns his mate’s death (we played together as kids and I brought him to Copenhagen being clearly more powerful than last night this drug addict desperate for a fix stuck a sawn-off shotgun in my face and was one second from pulling the trigger), so much so that he breaks into Addict Andreas’s scabby and vile flat and ends up rescuing his (also scabby) dog.

Nicky tells him to kill it. P tells them to kill it. But at the end of the day, Nicky just cannot bring himself to put a bullet between the dog’s beautiful, liquid, pleading brown eyes: laudable but no doubt fatal.

Secondly, in a confusingly edited couple of sequences, the lovely Lina throws the lying Nicky out (without our realising she has) then, after an invisibly long period of separation, decides to take him back, providing he first fucks her up against the Mercedes taxi he’s fixing for his only customer. Young love, eh?

But on the way, P has also scored the incriminating iPad, closing down that threat.

So that leaves us Mess. Alf and lawyer Hanna might despair once Energreen floats and hits 5,000 investors, seemingly making itself untouchable (why?) but Maverick Mess’s total ignorance of how a Fraud Squad actually works doesn’t stop him from all sorts of morale-boosting moves, including roughing Jens Kristian up in the elevator, to get harder info (and look where that got everybody).

But we can get Energreen through Claudia, the important thing is, what’s the score with Mess’s personal life? I mean, that’s got to be more important than any crime, hasn’t it?

To summarise: Mess and Kristina are going to separate, even though Kristina has quarreled with her celibate Doctor/boyfriend. In order to raise a mortgage for a flat of his own (which he’s going to need if totally hot blonde out-of-nowhere Cecelie is going to turn up for ‘professional assistance’ and start snogging him), Mess has to sell the family home. This he refuses to do: his wife and children need it.

Then, without a word of explanation, he and Kristina are showing an Estate Agent around and going for a quick sale. Except that the house is worth 700,000 less than their mortgage. Ah, the joys of negative equity: I sympathise, Mess, I really do. So he and Kristina go for Plan C:  the kids will live in the house and he and Kristina will share in, in alternate weeks.

As plans go, it’s dumb from the ground up to the gutter, over the roof and back down the other wall, so dumb that even in the we-have-no-other-options stakes it’s a non-runner, and whilst young Allbert’s main concern is about keeping his bedroom, teenage Esther has no qualms about calling it out as a plan that suits her parents and not the kids.

She also lays a hefty dose of blame on her mother, which can’t be gainsaid.

In between times, when it’s not their turn, Kristina will live with her celibate boyfriend, and Mess will live with Alf, who seems to be prepared to put up with him. And might have to bear with Cecilie too.

Which is going to be difficult. They’ve taken Mia of the artificial coma-inducing drugs, but she’s not woken up yet. Mess is, for once, useful, given his experience with, and continual fears for Kristina (who he still loves, quite clearly), telling Alf to hope and believe.

But it is all in vain. Alf visits Mia late at night, tries talking to her but stops because he feels stupid, because he can’t convince himself she can hear. Only she goes into cardiac arrest, and dies. The final angle on Energreen goes with her.

Evil has won, comprehensively, Sander has got everything he wants (except Claudia’s lilywhite body). He’s even secure enough to reinstate poor, broken Ulrik, whose leave of absence from the company has been long enough to set him on the road to recovery whilst, like Lina and Nicky’s separation, being impossible to incorporate in the timeline for the series.

Is Sander safe? Will Justice be thwarted? Have they really brought in Lotte Anderson to play virtually the same role she played in both The Killing and The Bridge? (yes they have and it’s a glorious in-joke). Will the dog survive? Will Claudia decide that being thoroughly evil and ruthless is just a temporary necessity to get herself out and ‘clean’, or will she decide to overthrow Sander and get it all for herself?  Is Mess going to shag Cecilie or go back to Kristina because she has another sclerosis attack? Did Avon somehow escape being surrounded by Federation troopers with ninety-six million, eight hundred and fourteen thousand guns all pointed at his head from six inches away? Oops, sorry, wrong show.

Let’s wait and see, eh?

 

 

Saturday SkandiCrime: Follow the Money parts 3 & 4


Mads, by name and nature

Another Sunday session for Saturday night crime.

My main excuse this week is that the England game was too interesting to switch off, but I have to allow for the fact that nothing in Follow the Money‘s first two parts gripped me in anything like the way that the best Scandinavian drama series have done in recent years. Nor, sadly, was there much in the next set of instalments to increase my enthusiasm.

At least I am not going to the stupid extent of the Guardian TV reviewer who, last week, also found Follow the Money uninvolving, but who extrapolated from that that the whole Scandinavian TV boom was therefore over, and henceforth no other Danish/Swedish/Norwegian/Icelandic programme should ever be broadcast on British TV again. Some people are just plain pathetic.

But I’ll say what I said last week, because it’s by far and away the principal factor: this is a story that fails to involve. It’s an entirely too orthodox police procedural, supplemented by soap opera elements that, by failing to sufficiently individualize the characters, fail to affect.

Take our hero, Mads (which, incidentally is pronounced ‘Mess’, which is hardly surprising). We’ve already seen that he doesn’t do patience, which is unfortunate because he’s (as of episode 4 officially) seconded to the Fraud Squad, whose police work consists entirely of patience. Mess is a bull with the urge to find a china shop: his policing consists of getting suspects into a room, quizzing them without the slightest iota of evidence and pronouncing them guilty based on the fact that they do things that ordinary people do when confronted by a mad copper, they calll for their lawyer.

Alright, we get it, he’s a maverick, that’s what mavericks do, but that’s my point entirely, the great joy of the SkandiCrime series is that they have different angles upon such things, they are not Anglo stereotypes, and Mess is a stereotype.

Which is why, when the viewer learns in episode 3, and Mess the following episode, that his sclerosis-crippled wife Kristina is having an affair (I thought she was too affected by her recent bad bout to surrender to her libido), I found it impossible to share in his evident misery.

Which, by the way, he directs at a very unimaginative revenge, keying his ‘rival”s flash car, instead of immediately reporting him to the Danish equivalent of the BMC (shagging your patients, Doctor David? Tsk, tsk, we’re going to have to give you a no about that).

Let’s back away from Mess for a moment and consider out Anti-Hero, Claudia, who’s rapidly getting deeper and deeper into Energreen’s, and Sander  Sodergren’s, little deceptions. In episode 3, she flies out to Abu Dhabi where Sander is banking all on getting Arab backing for a highly experimental superconductor that Hanne, its Chief Scientist, knows is fraught with difficulties. Hanne’s use of the word No (which, disappointingly, is Danish for No) sees her career end on the spot. The very next day, a more, shall we call it optimistic?, scientists pitches a trouble-free pitch, with the aid of what looked like a square of albino battenburg hovering on a cloud of dry ice and circling a table ad infinitum.

That it’s a flagrant con is established from the casual way in  which the compliant scientist dropped in the fact that Energreen had invented perpetual motion without going, say, HEY, LOOK YOU GUYS, WE’VE INVENTED PERPETUAL FUCKING MOTION!!!!!

Claudia looks perturbed at Hanne’s treatment but barely blinks and simply moves onto the next right royal shafting, in episode 4, when she takes the little son she patently adores and misses so much to Jutland on a day out, so he can watch her down-size a former family company preparatory to selling it off. That goes down like a brick pigeon with the CEO and former owner, but that’s nothing as to when Claudia gets told there’s been a change of plans and, thanks to some financial smartarsery from Energreen’s Chief Financial Officer, Ulrik Skov, the company has to be shut down, five minutes ago, no back answers.

So our dear Claudia has to go round handing out redundancy notices to all 300 employees (after the ex-owner signs a ‘loadsamoney for you personally, shut-yer-gob’ agreement drafted by her own fair hand), but the only one we see is middle-aged secretary Gerthe, who has been keeping little Bertram amused. It’s a cheap attempt to tug at the heart-strings that might have worked in a better series, but is merely nasty here. So when it turns into a cue for Bertram to say he doesn’t like Mummy’s job and wants to go back to Daddy now, it’s meaningless.

These are all business dealings that could be easily enough justified by businessmen as financially necessary, but I suspect that, somewhere round about twenty minutes into episode 9, Claudia will find herself handling a trick too shitty for ever her to process and will start coughing to Mess and Alf. When she does, I shall think back to episodes like this and be profoundly unconveniced.

One more thing about Claudia before we turn to our third pillar, car thief Nicky and the idiot Bimse, but the story did surprise me for the first and so far only time near the end of episode 3. Sander and Claudia are staying in opposite rooms in a big Abu Dhabi hotel, he’s pestering her for dinner, he takes her back to her room, bursting with testosterone, but Claudia is expecting the pass and not showing any signs of encouragement. That is, until he knocks on her door again to bring a toy car present for young Bertram, which leads her to snog his face off – until he stops her abruptly. This is wrong, he has great things planned for her, this will spoil things. Cliche-busting alert! Though the whole thing spoke to me of very dispassionate manipulation.

So, Nicky and the Boxo. Yeah, it’s all starting to go to custard for that pair, thanks to the Bozo being, well, a Bozo. They’ve got the money, nobody on the investigation side knows about them, and Nicky’s father-in-law cools the trail when Nicky is bozo enough to use the stolen iPad for pictures of his chocolate-faced child. But I’ll bet the iPad hasn’t been dumped: after all, it needs to turn up somewhere about episode 8 to incriminate Sander.

I’m sorry, no, I refuse to waste more time than is necessary on this strand of the plot, until it links more firmly with the A story. Which is financial hi-jinks, centring around Sander and the aforementioned Ulrik Skov, the outline of which was put together by Chinese Dane Alf, with the improbable assistance of Mess. It made for interesting but hardly visceral stuff. Let’s see if more can be built upon it next week.

The problem is that there is the makings of a decent, and potentially gripping story about high finance and big business in this series that is being consistently blurred by the antics of the three principals, Mess, Claudia and Nicky, who are acting in a completely different story (or two different stories if you look at Nicky.) The two styles are running counter to one another without setting up any kind of insightful counterpoint, or even a fruitful resonance.

It’s not the end of SkandiCrime As We Know It, but it falls short of the standards we are used to, and reports suggest there’s nothing coming down the line to redeem it. At least it’s not snark-worthy, like you-know-what.