Deadwind

3 out of 5

Directed by: Rike Jokela

covers season 1

My goodness, have we seen all of this before: the cop-on-the-edge with a murky past (Pihla Viitala as Sofia Karppi); the know-it-all partner with whom she’s saddled for a new case (Lauri Tilkanen as Sakari Nurmi) and with whom she butts heads again and again; the mysterious murder that blows up into something much bigger; the affairs and secret drug habits and etcetera that all of the characters seem to participate in or have; the continual whodunnit finger pointing that ducks and dodges until final episode reveals; and, a hallmark of the lesser of these entries – huge, logical gaps in decision making and communication flubs that just drag things out further.

And because this is “Nordic noir,” things are always bleak and / or dark and snowy.

Nothing in the structure of Deadwind is thus particularly surprising, and there are a handful of forehead-smacking times when you realize things probably could’ve been chopped down to a tighter, 6-episode tale.  However, in this 12 episode exploration of the Whys and Hows of a body – Anna Bergdahl – that’s discovered buried, dressed, and posed with flowers, that crosses into the personal life of the affected husband (Jani Volanen), and into the clean energy company for which Anna worked, run by Alex (Tommi Korpela), and then into the life of a man who’s threatening Alex, and then, of course, into our lead cops’ day to day troubles as well, Deadwind manages to do something that so many of these shows, even if more tightly plotted, forget to do: it actually makes the story and characters interesting.

Despite the fact that it all fits a template, the world feels real enough: Alex’s company, and the controversies surrounding it, are interesting, making that portion of the story worthwhile; Alex is a well-rounded character, making his intersection with Anna interesting as well; Ukko, Anna’s husband, is given a fair shake and believable treatment as a man grieving, with the inevitable Unknowns regarding his involvement given more weight due to this; and though the cops – Sofia and Sakari – do the typical odd couple thing, they, too, feel more fully fleshed out than we’re used to seeing, and so ingratiate themselves to a viewer… even when behaving dunderheadedly (which is moreso “I can’t believe she’d still be employed” Sofia’s shtick than Sakari’s).  In other words, while sticking to the noir M.O. of lies and allegations, Deadwind – or its director, Rike Jokela, and small crew of writers, including Jokela, Kirsi Porkka & Jari Olavi Rantala, as well as its capable actors – don’t just hang the story and characters on these templates, but build it up around a grounded core instead.