Friday, 11 January 2013

Forbrydelsen (The Killing) - Season 2 by Søren Sveistrup – Review

This is the review of the second season of the Danish crime drama written by Søren Sveistrup, Forbrydelsen. If you haven't watched the first season, I recommend you to not continue any further and the review of the previous season is available here and whatever I’ve stated in my previous review regarding how I review a drama applies to this review as well. 

Ulrik Strange (Mikael Birkkjær) and Sarah Lund (Sofie Gråbøl)

Getting back to the review, the second season starts with the murder of a lawyer, Anne Dragsøhlm, who worked as a legal adviser to the Danish army. After Jan Meyer’s demise and the sacking of Lund from the homicide department, the chief Lennart Brix gets a new subordinate, Ulrik Strange. Meanwhile, Sarah Lund’s union with her boyfriend Bengt Rosling fails and she is back in Denmark, as part of the Passport police in Gedser, southern Denmark. Brix drafts Sarah back into the homicide department and from her side, although she was initially reluctant, she eventually overcomes her dilemma and decides to investigate the case along with Ulrik Strange. As the series progresses, the murders similar to that of Dragshølm keep taking place – a serial killer is on the run. 

Similar to the first season, there was also a political sub-plot – but from local politics, it moved on to national politics, with the newly appointed Justice Minister, Thomas Buch,  being the lead in the sub-plot, who is put in a situation which forces him to open a can of worms. Then there is Jens Peter Raben, a suspended military officer who is now in a psychiatric ward over mental issues and Raben, in some way has links to the murdered.

I don’t think I can give any further details on the plot without spoiling the same. Coming to the story, it was good, to say the least. Murders all over the place, and also, these murders also had political impact. Lund-Strange combination too, was really good, for a change, Lund could actually cooperate with somebody and if I have to say something good about Strange, I think he is the only one who was never annoyed by any of Lund’s antics and supported her throughout. Adding more on the characters, my favourite addition was the Justice Minister Thomas Buch – who, despite not being a lawyer, was doing a good job, did not care about losing his post for doing the right thing and also, his rhetoric was really good and though I don’t understand more than ten words in Danish, I loved the way in which he expressed himself and one the whole, Buch was by far the best addition to the series (only as a character). The story also added dimensions, military protocol, and the war in Afghanistan among several things. I love crime stories which are to the point, without much digressions or needless sub-plots and Season 2 of Forbrydelsen’s score certainly increases on my scoreline, for such reasons. 

From what I’ve read, season two is strongly criticised for several reasons; that Lund was loved because of the complex nature of her character, her workaholic personality, personal issues and problems at work but in season two, she didn’t have any personal or professional problems. Moreover, the next bone of contention was that the personal aspect of a murder was completely ignored, that is, there was no focus on the families of the bereaved. The last one was the size being halved, compared to the twenty episodes of the previous season.

However, I never understood the reason for such strong criticism. The first, regarding Sarah Lund being compromised, I felt that Lund was the same as before, ever so confident, ever so assertive and moreover, for me as a viewer, I enjoyed seeing Lund having someone as cooperative (unlike Jan Meyer) as Ulrik Strange as her partner.  The next being the personal aspects of a murder, that is a reasonable criticism although, it wouldn’t have been practically possible to do such a thing when the number of people murdered is so high in number. Instead, even the impact of Jens’ absence on the Raben family was portrayed quite well, which I think compensates for the lack of counterparts to the Birk Larsen family. Regarding the size, it was quite a relief – considering that the first season, beyond a certain point, was dragging on and on for no particular reason.

However, I’d not say that Season 2 of Forbrydelsen was perfect, far from it, with its own flaws. The first being, although I praised Thomas Buch, as a character in the story, I however felt that his presence and in fact, the entire political aspect of it to be quite redundant. The politicians were hardly a part of the whole police investigation and unlike Troels Hartmann, Thomas Buch meets Sarah Lund only once, that too for less than ten seconds and it was in not in any way connected with the investigation. The political side of the story was a plain repeat of the first series and Sveistrup unnecessarily followed a template, that is, write a crime story, and somehow link it to Danish politics. On a light note, Lund wearing her famous Faroese jumper in the deserts of Afghanistan completely went over the top. It is nearly impossible for a writer to cover up everything and there were loose ends, some blatant ones but much less, as compared to the first season.

I’d conclude this review by rating this series and for rating crime stories; I’ve a rough checklist which I shall be stating below. The story was good, satisfying the primary requirement, with minimal deviations and had a good set of characters, adding flavour to the story. Moreover, the more important aspects of a crime story are the interesting twists and turns, red-herrings which it definitely had and finally the most important of all, a fitting end, which Forbrydelsen’s second season didn’t lack, either. On the whole, I’d give this an eight on ten.

Have a nice day,


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