4 out of 5

Created by: Henrik Björn, Alexander Kantsjö, Fredrik T. Olsso

covers season 1 and 2

Jordskott – a Swedish horror / fantasy / procedural mash-up – is one of the most willfully obtuse series I’ve watched in some time… for which said obtuseness ends up being one of the series’ most fun highlights.

Avoidance as a narration tactic can annoy; withholding information that other characters seem to know and dangling it as cliffhangery stuff, or as shadowy figures just out of frame, is cheap, and often indicative of the laziest form of building intrigue.  Jordskott – which kicks off with police detective Eva taking some time off from policing in Stockholm to sort out affairs relating to her father’s passing in her home of Silverhöjd – is, in a way, structured almost entirely out of this, with the various players in Silverhöjd’s windy net of politics and secret payoffs and clandestine agencies conducting their relative businesses episode by episode with little care for expositing their reasons to us, the viewer.  And yet, it’s exactly this deep dive – the complete lack of explanation – that makes it work, and also likely marks the show as not an American one.  While we’ve gotten used to our Lost-y faux-world-building that allows for leaving stuff unknown, there’s generally a need to call attention to it in some fashion, or to frustratingly avoid calling attention to it when any sane person would pause to ask What The Hell Is Going On?

Jordskott busies Eva with wanting to get the heck out of Silverhöjd, not having had the best relationship with her father, and having lost her daughter there in an unresolved disappearance, while all this other oddball stuff is casually kicking around.  In other words: she doesn’t give many fucks, and because the show has firmly rooted us to her point of view through an effective opening sequence in which she’s involved in a hostage negotiation – and hasn’t really made a point to establish itself as fantasy or horror outside of its tone – we don’t give fucks about this stuff either, chalking it up to small town nonsense.  And when a child goes missing in the present, echoing the events around Eva’s daughter, we are rooted to that quest, and consider the local detectives Wass and Tom as roadblocks to her solving the case.

She remains focused on that goal; so do we.  And along the way, all of the “small town nonsense” “kicking around” in the background weaves its way into relevance.  It’s quite genius: I absorbed all of the show’s internal mythology without realizing it, because it only came up when important to Eva’s pursuit… and then her pursuit and said mythiness become fully entwined.

Mind you it’s also a procedural, with Wass, Eva and Tom drifting into casework, making this the best X-Files / Fringe-type show made in quite some time.  There is, of course, some suspension of thinking-too-much, as the town’s secrets seem so widespread and undercover-wink-wink-we’re-part-of-the-conspiracy agents a’plenty that it’s a curiosity if calling anything secret is really applicable – and in playing its cards so obtuse and obstinately and other o-words, characters don’t seem to easily emerge as Heroes or Villains, occasionally making it difficult to decide for whom to root or root against – but the organic flow to the way things come together, even as they get more complex in season two, is entrancing, easily keeping us hooked to our screens for more.