Skriften på veggen ((The Writing on the Wall) Stefan Faldbakken, 2010)
Svarte får ((Black Sheep) Stephan Apelgren, 2011)
Dødens drabanter ((Consorts of Death) Stephan Apelgren, 2011)
I mørket er alle ulver grå ((At Night All Wolves Are Grey) Alexander Eik, 2011)
De døde har det godt ((The Dead Have It Easy) Erik Richter Strand, 2011)
Kalde hjerter ((Cold Hearts), Trond Espen Seim, 2012)
The first series left me with a degree of trepidation – would Hamre be back or has the series jumped the shark. The answer is – spoiler – he is back and so it was worth watching. The friendship gets closer, to the extent that I was expecting him to be written out. No spoilers here. But there is a growing sympathy, especially as Veum gets closer to a new girlfriend Karin (Lene Nystrøm), who appears in a different guise in the novels.
(This is a little throwing, given expectations of her story arc.)
Hamre also develops a concern for cats and is not above using Veum – he is not as dim as the private investigator thinks.
I’ve read four of the books adapted here and the story stories fixed up seem to fit within the format. Three of them are faithful enough to the sources – in my unreliable memory – but I mørket er alle ulver grå seems a rather different beast, with an old friend of Veum’s, who had been in the military in Afghanistan apparently killed in a bomb he has set off in an arms factory. This episode has rather obviously gained a budget – the opening skiing scenes are extraordinary even on a small scale and the final act takes place in Budapest. My only puzzle is whether enough of the original novel survives to justify the title. The other annoyance is a street chase from Veum’s relocated office around the Nordres area, which ends up at the Fløibanen, on the far side of the havn. I suspect it owes a little to Morse’s dubious Oxford (and don’t get me started on Sherlock’s trip from Baker Street to somewhere near Tate Britain via the Mall (both directions) and the Waterloo area).
Whilst the first series had its political moments – a corrupt leadership election – real world issues are foregrounded here, with Veum’s social work background and Karin’s work with immigrants sparking narratives. Corruption is at the heart of some of Bergen’s civic bodies, within a military organisation, within the police, within forensics, and perhaps the stakes are raised. Karin’s desire to move to a house with a metaphor white picket fence stacks up jeopardy and it seems unlikely their relationship will survive his refusal to entirely move on from his profession.
Seim self directs the final episode to date and indeed, at this distance, I doubt they will go back. The direction is a little flashier, although earlier episodes edge toward some of the jumpcuts of Borgen and play with handheld. He has some nice tracking shots and uses mirrors, and is not afraid to underlight (which means we miss some nastiness and I had to go back to see if I could work out the fate of one of the characters). He also uses a bit of point of view shooting, but this is not consistent.
I will miss the Veum and Hamre sparring, but the plotting here was very sharp and not wanting to tie everything up with a bow.
The question is, will anyone film the rest of the novels?
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