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 5 & 6


Natalie Madueno

I’ve started, so I’ll finish…

By that I don’t mean that I’m considering dropping Follow the Money, merely that for the remainder of its run, I’ll be watching it via the relative luxury of an i-Player Sunday morning, and addressing it in relative leisure.

Having said that, I am wondering what more I can say about the series that would be more than a pointless recapping of plot points. Two further episodes, taking us through the middle, and both ending with cliffhangers that I’d spotted coming from various distances, did not alter in any way the steady, passionless, tension-less progression of the series. Follow the Money remains efficient and competent, free from the kind of witless application of rotten cliche and stupidity that enabled me to endlessly snark Salamander, but without creating a sense of investment. I’m curious as to how it all comes out, but I’m not worried about the possibilities of tragedy in the ending.

This week, episode 5 felt like a particularly long hour, as the story advanced on multiple fronts, with no emphasis on the importance of any. Journalist Mia (Chinese Alf’s face-slapper), getting stonewalled in her attempts to uncover dirt on Energreen, is visited by a Deep Throat-esque insider (maybe we should call him Deep Bicycle-Shed in honour of their initial point of contaact).

This leads towards a particularly ill-timed article casting doubt on Energreen’s stability, ill-timed from their point of view that is, as the Flotation’s about to go wide. Our Amoral Compass, Claudia (whose morality starts to swing a bit in the breeze, as disloyal thoughts seep into her head about how maybe, just maybe, there are mildly fishy aspects to all this) shuts down the newspaper article aspect with a legitimate legal argument backed by a heavy dose of we-can-sue-your-arse-back-to-kindergarten threatening. But she can’t shut Mia herself down from publishing the article on her blog.

So, in a development easily foreseeable from about five minutes in, Sonder has the soft-spoken P mow Mia down with a car for the cliffhanger. Except that it’s right in front of Claudia. And her little boy, Bertram.

We’ll have more of that later, but we should also record, since it’s going to be massively relevant, that our lady lawyer bumps into an old boyfriend, Tobias, who’s now representing a would-be investor in Energreen. And takes him home and shags him, baring a bit more than we usually see from the leading lady in a SkandiDrama (and a very pleasant sight too).

I’m not just being prurient. The SkandiCrimes do tend to throw in a pair or two of bare breasts, in a naturalistic manner, in their series, but it’s usually some minor character: we don’t get to see Sofie Grabol, Sofia Helin or Sidse Babbet Knudsen being so free with their bosoms, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see Natalie Madueno throwing off her… dignity like that.

As for Mess, thanks to the lead supplied by Mia, he and Chinese Alf spent half the episode in Poland, trying to investigate the factory where Energreen are researching superconductivity. But the source Mia identifies is a lie, the hustling, bustling factory is well guarded, and when Mess enterprisingly nicks a security badge in a bar, the said factory is stripped to the bone overnight and moved to India, which is ever so slightly improbable.

But it gives Mess time to think about Kristina’s revelation last week. He’s angry (of course he is, he’s a maverick) and there’s a part of him that cannot resist throwing up the fact that he has loyally looked after his seriously ill wife, taken on that burden faithfully and uncomplainingly, and his reward is for her to go off and shag her doctor. But, in the closest thing to a genuinely touching scene so far (had the series managed to convince me its people were important, this would have been a killer), Mess tells Kristina that despite his hurt and anger, he loves her, and what they have built is too important to damage by such anger, so he will forego it, put it away, and forgive her.

His reward is for Kristina to seek a separation.

I’ve put it off long enough, it can’t be ignored: what of Nicky and the Bozo? Quickly: father-in-law Jan gloms onto a third of the cash in exchange for cooking up a money-laundering scheme via a garage ‘bought’ by Nicky, which will massively increase their profit… over ten years. Meanwhile, the boys get 22,500 kroner a month.

Given their collective ignorance, they’ve no alternative but to take it. But Nicky still has the incriminatory iPad which, with the aid of Eric, the vaping crooked accountant wheeled in by Jan, he plans to blackmail Sander Sodergren for 10,000,000 over its return.

That deals with episode 5. Moving on, we quickly learn that Mia is alive, though in a coma, so don’t expect much more of Charlotte Munck for the rest of the series, regrettably (an unconventional looking woman, but pretty damned gorgeous, I thought). Chinese Alf is catching on to Maverick Mess’s ways: instead of revealing her connection to the fraud investigation, which would mean the everyday cops confiscating her assets, Alf confiscates her phone and house keys so that he and Mess can nick everything and study it for her source.

Who turns out to be a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Voice’.

As for Mess’s personal mess (I am so going to keep using that line), he’s having the kids over to stay at Alf’s, whilst he slips out to obsessively watch the former matrimonial pad for the doctor paying a house call. It actually turns out that Doc and Kristina haven’t actually shagged yet, but Mess is resolutely unimpressed by this revelation (why shouldn’t he be? It makes a nonsense of everything she’s told him about the man she wants to leave him for) and decides he’ll get the paperwork started.

Back at Nicky and the Bozo, the smarter half of the pair (the distinction is rapidly diminishing, week by week) makes the crudest of approaches to Sander with his blackmail bid. Sander immediately sets the soft-spoken P onto it, leading to a meet with Nicky, supported by Eric – who has now gone back to ciggies again, a neat and unobtrusive detail – in which P’s usual efficiency lets him down. He fails to kill either one, though he does wound Eric. This is not a good development for Energreen.

Especially when they spend most of the episode criss-crossing Europe whoring to investors. It’s a five man/person team: the salesman, Sander, Claudia, Ulrik Skov, and Ulrik’s new right hand man, Jens Kristian, who’s rising in the world just like Claudia.

Who’s not at her best. She’s still in shock from seeing Mia mown down and, what’s worse, she can’t stop thinking of the coincidence in timing between trying to shut Mia up over her Energreen-knocking article and a vicious hit and run. Claudia is putting two and two together in her head and, no matter how hard she tries, she can’t get them to add up to anything but four.

Then she goes and drops an almighty bollock in London, by forgetting to bring vital documents to the meeting with the biggest, most secure and prestigious investor of all, causing Energreen’s bid to be thrown out unheard. It’s a career-destroying, sack on the spot, financially disastrous blunder, as a result of which Ulrik starts throwing up all over the place.

You see, it can now be openly admitted (to the audience at least) that Ulrik has indeed been cooking the books, to the point where they are now burnt to a frazzle and, without outside investors, they’re all doomed. Sander slaps his face, tells him to snap out of it. Meanwhile, Claudia confesses her fears to both Jens Kristian (who pooh-poohs it) and Sander (who acts all terribly hurt that she could even think it).

Remember Tobias? He’s flown into Rome to intercept the Energreen tour, or at least Claudia’s sex-hungry bit of it. Oh, and as a would-be investor, tell me, strictly in confidence, should I pull out now or plunge deeper in (deliberately crude double entendre)? Claudia’s morality is flying free now, so she lies through her teeth to Tobias about a superconductivity breakthrough that will replace sliced bread as the world’s standard measure of bestness.

It buoys her up so much (or was it just the sex?) that Claudia sells the show to the French all on her own (no, Sander didn’t fire her for practically dropping his company down the toilet: the man has an agenda) which ups her credibility again before the news comes in that Tobias’s company have trebled their investment. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! And Claudia has a little gift of 10,000 shares that, tomorrow, will be worth 10,000,000.

She also has a traumatised small boy sleeping on a couch in her office because he’s fretting with fear at his mummy being knocked down by a car. Meanwhile, Sander is berating P for his egregious cock-up. And little Bertram happens to see P in passing, whereupon he identifies the man to his mother as the driver of the car that knocked over that lady…

But this, predictable as it is, is not our cliffhanger. That comes from Mess and Alf tracking down The Voice and setting up a meeting in the ‘usual place’ by posing as Mia on e-mail. They turn up, he doesn’t. He’s not stupid, he knows she’s in a coma, he tells them when he rings in. He’s going to disappear, but Mess offers protection and convinces him to come in and help bring Energreen down. In a shock, entirely unexpected revelation that I’d correctly predicted a couple of minutes earlier, The Voice turned out to be Jens Kristian…

Which simply reinforces my point. I’m a smartarse, I freely admit it. I read widely, watch TV and films. Not a lot takes me in, I can see things coming. Which is why I love the ones where I can’t, where I can’t read where it’s going, either in the web of the story or in the warp of the author’s thinking. That Mia was going to be taken out was obvious from way, way ahead, it was only a matter of time. That it had to be Jens was equally clear from his suddenly having been introduced in a prominent role only in that episode. Follow the Money is ok, but it isn’t surprising anyone. Claudia’s going to settle for being good, instead of rich, and turn Queen’s Evidence on Sander and the rest. P’s going to kidnap Bertram, and the show hasn’t got the creative steel to kill the boy, who will be rescued by Mess, who’ll end up getting back together with Kristina and trying again.

Expect to hear from me again on this subject next Sunday.

Saturday SkandiCrime: Follow the Money parts 1 & 2


Coming to you incredibly late for me, what with yesterday’s day out and the Manchester Derby this afternoon. And perhaps it’s because I’ve watched it mid-Sunday evening and not late Saturday night, but so far I’ve found little to impress or enthuse me about Denmark’s latest offering.

And there is a seriously dubious title sequence showing the four main characters going about their business with water welling up from everything until they’re trying to function normally in rooms full to the ceiling with water. It’s clearly symbolic but at this point there isn’t a clue what it’s symboliic of.

Follow the Money is a very dull title (the Danish title, Bedrag, sounds far better, and it literally means ‘Deception’), and the fact that the central mystery appears to revolve around some as-yet-undisclosed dodgy financial dealings involving one of Denmark’s most successful companies, Energreen, seemed to confirm a certain lack of imagination in the first instance. There was, however, a glimmer of interest by the end of episode 2 when this over-literal title took on an even more literal meaning, as a well-contrived blunder put two seemingly minor characters – one of them the biggest numbskull in the show – in possession of 2,000,000 Euros in brick-thick bundles. Someone, and probably more than one party, is going to be following that money around.

The opening opted for the piecemeal approach, giving us three disparate strands, each with its own central character, before wrapping them into one interwoven package with a briskness unusual for Scandinavian Crime.

Firstly, we have Mads, our forty-something maverick detective. Mads is called out to a dead body, recovered from the water, which turns out to be a Ukrainian worker from the nearby offshore wind farm owned by Energreen. Lacking any immediate means to getting over to us that the quiet, ordinary-looking Mads is a maverick, the writer opted for the unusual and somewhat risible method of having him strip off and dive into the undoubtedly freezing water to retrieve a safety jacket, rather than wait five minutes for a boat.

This had the story value of establishing for us that Mads doesn’t do patience very well, which would become a salient feature of part 2.

Mikhayil’s death turned out to be an accident caused by deliberate breach of Health and Safety regulations by Energreen, not for the first time. Mads tries to exhort the Ukrainians to file a complaint but all that achieves is to get the lot of them fired, and Mikhayil’s distraught father, Alexander, to hang himself in his storage container hut bedroom. That made it personal for Mads, at which point I got a chilling echo of the utterly inept Salamander, glimmers of which kept reflecting off him for the rest of both episode.

I’m sorry to harp on about Mads, but he is our star but we also have to reflect upon his home life, which is two children – one boy, young, one girl, youngish, shades of Borgen – and a wife suffering from sclerosis attacks. Mads is doing everything he can, and the tears he cries when she unexpectedly recovers from her current, bad attack, are a touching testament to his love for her, though I can’t help but wonder that, her first words when introduced in bad shape being that she dreamed of having sex, once she recovered – and she really is an attractive woman – there wasn’t the slightest hint of him even thinking of sex: this might be implanting something extremely subtle to be realised later, and I have some insight into situations like this, but that would be to give the series credit it’s far from earning yet.

Let’s leave him for a while and transfer our attention to lead 2, one Claudio Moreno, of Energreen’s legal department: thirtyish, divorced, young son who lives with his father Steen (also a lawyer). Claudia’s just uncovered a contract clause that will save Energreen 20,000,000 euros a year, but it’s head lawyer Mogens who’s going to take the credit for this.

But Mogens enlists Claudia to hunt out an insider who’s insider trading, and he hints that the corruption goes as high as CEO, founder and all-round hotshot Sander Sodergren, so she’s got to keep it extremely quiet, from everyone. It all involves some company called East Manchester Invest  (which, sadly, proves to be registered in Copenhagen rather than Openshaw) but Claudia, who is ambitious, decides Mogens is trying to frame Sander and takes it all to the big Boss. Who promptly, a), fires Mogens, b), appoints Claudia as his new Head Lawyer and, c), admits to her that he did, in fact, after all, as it happens, authorise his best trader, Peter Sondergaard to go off insider trading, providing the then financially-strapped Energreen got its share of the profits. Oi!

And then there’s Nicky, a car mechanic and ex-car thief, married with a small, one year old baby, and living in a high-rise flat. From which he and his wife want to escape but they haven’t got the money for it. So, despite his initial, and eminently sensible refusal to join blatant moron Bimse in car-thieving for quick profit, Nicky decides to supplement his income the old-fashioned way. After all, there’s this rude, arrogant jerk called Peter Sondergaard who’s running a BMW that the Serbs can sell on…

So now let’s stir the mix. Maverick Mads can’t get anywhere with trying to bring Energreen down over these deaths (remember, it’s personal). His by-the-book boss Preben shuts the case, like all the others. Fortunately, Detective Alf (yes, Alf, a Danish cop, of Chinese extraction, called Alf, do you want to make something of that? There is also an Albert in this series, move along) offers him a chance to tag along with the Fraud Squad to get some satisfaction.

Of course, Fraud Squad cases last sometimes for years, and Mads, as we already know, doesn’t do patience, so when they can’t get a wiretap of East Manchester Invest due to minor details like having no evidence whatsoever, Mads cons a fellow cop into adding it to the warrant for a completely different case (it is, it’s bloody Philip Gerrardi all over again).

Claudia meanwhile recommends Peter Sondergaard and his colleague are separated from Energreen tooty-de-sweet, before the Police investigation finds them. It seems a simple job, a silent severance, that sort of thing, no publicity, and even a fun one when Peter starts treating Claudia as the secretary, but it transpires that Peter has something on Sander, not financial, but personal, and something that has him immediately willing to hand over 4,000,000 euros, cash, to buy them off.

(He has an associate, named only P, who handles the transactions, and who appears to have hidden, shall we call them, talents? I mention him because this time, unlike Captain Carlssen in Trapped, I recognised him immediately: Claus Ljungmark, aka Norlander in the first five Arne Dahl movies).

Which brings us back to Nicky and the idiot Bimse, who’s going to get someone killed, preferably himself. P hands over two hold-alls, each containing 2,000,000 Euros to Peter and the other one (Mark?). Peter drives home, does the Patrick McGoohan in the opening credits of The Prisoner bit and re-emerges to find his Beamer gone. With the cash, and the iPad containing the incriminating evidence against Sander. Which are in the hands of Nicky and the Bozo.

I shall, of course, continue to watch and blog the whole series, but after two episodes it has not filled me with confidence. The strength of the various Scandinavian crime series, apart from the fascination of seeing a familiar subject through the eyes of a different culture, has been in how it has immersed itself in the impact that murder has, on victims, families, the Police themselves. It has relied heavily upon the characters of the Police involved, from the eccentric yet fascinating Saga Noren of The Bridge to the utterly down-to-earth Hinrika in Trapped.

But we have none of that here. The deaths we have had to date are of importance only to the detective, who is not, as yet, distinguishable in any way from a generic ‘maverick cop’. Nicky loses points for being involved with Bimse the Bozo, someone that a three-month old baby would avoid for utter unreliability, whilst Claudia, who already only sees her little boy four days a fortnight, puts up the feeblest of resistances to her ex-husband Steen taking him to live in Paris for two years.

The only character who genuinely interests me so far is Mads’ wife, Kristina, and that may be due to personal things on my part.

Follow the Money has four more weeks in which to prove me wrong, but on the evidence of two episodes, it’s biggest problem is that it’s just so damned ordinary. And we don’t go in for ordinary in the Saturday SkandiCrime slot.