Review: Fortitude (S1 E11/11), Thursday 9th April, Sky Atlantic

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Endings can be tricky. Especially those to series whose host broadcaster has already announced that a second series is in the offing. This normally means, unless it’s an anthology, that the series finale will be used as nothing more than a bridge to set things up for the next season. Fortitude, which has been intriguing and (mostly) excellent throughout its debut run fell into this trap, and even then came up short. It was neither a satisfactory ending nor a bridge episode to the next season. So what exactly was it?

Finales should, at least, tie a few things up before they look ahead to the next series. But this final episode sort of hithered and thithered and went by in a flash, revealing a few things but ending so suddenly and strangely it felt like nothing of a muchness.

It started promisingly enough. Vincent, trapped inside a hospital room full of regurgitated wasps, had slumped, stung and bitten raw by these presumably deadly things. In a scene redolent of the ending from Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan, where Spock was trapped, dying, inside a room flooded with radiation, Natalie rushed to the window unable to help her colleague. The scene ended with Vincent setting alight a gas valve.

Natalie, with Vincent now in an isolation room nursing nasty burns and waiting to see if he had been infected, had found that the wasps were of an ancient, parasitic variety, who lay eggs in their host and devoured them from the inside out. During this gestation period they sent their host insane, making them desperate to unload the eggs within them to another host.

Strange Markus made an unexpected return to the fore, when he (pointlessly) made a trip to the hospital to engage Natalie in conversation. When she told him that the wasps had been recorded by Darwin as things so hideous that he doubted that a good God could have created them, he scoffed and took umbrage with the science saying: “It is not the wasps that make us doubt the existence of a benevolent God, it is us, his children.”

And this, to me, was the whole point of Fortitude in a sentence. In that moment it revealed itself as an environmental horror story, where humans have, in their lust for commerce and profit, disturbed things that have been left undisturbed for centuries and shouldn’t be disturbed. The plague was human in the making.

As the action continued, we became more aware of the consequences of this theory. Elena had become the latest to become infected and, after strangely smearing her face with jam, clubbed young Carrie Morgan in her viral reverie. Dan, bursting in on the scene, had to shoot the woman he loved.

Hildur and Dan then went about the town razing anything that had come to contact with the mammoth bones. Dan, the prideful sheriff of Fortitude, in his own way succumbing to the madness that swept through the town, trudged solemnly up to the top of a hill and watch as his town burned.

And that was it. tumblr_nkwvyqWMxT1reuldho1_500Ronnie was still locked up in the cupboard, Vincent was still in isolation, Elena was clinging onto her life, the Sweary Russian was trapped down in the putrid cavern where the mammoth bones and the virus lived… nothing resolved and ittumblr_nkwvyqWMxT1reuldho2_500 ended all so suddenly and with a bit of a whimper.

Which is a shame because Fortitude has been a fine series. It started off like a western, then a murder mystery and a tumblr_nkwvyqWMxT1reuldho4_500procedural and then took a turn for the dark and moved into horror territory. It was skilfully written, acted and directed, managing to keep us guessing and keep the story moving and evolving right until this final episode.

tumblr_nkwvyqWMxT1reuldho6_500There were some memorable characters, none more so than Sheriff Dan Andersen (Richard Dormer), whose kind face was studded with a pair of feral eyes that gave him a menacing edge. A seemingly kindly sheriff, we were left in no doubt tumblr_nkwvyqWMxT1reuldho5_500that Fortitude was his town. Anyone who fucked with it, fucked with him. This dynamic with the town was straight out of the wild west, and even though he was the law he made up his own rules as things went along, content to break them if it meant he and the town continued along (relatively) peacefully. And then there was DCI Eugen Morton (Stanley Tucci in superb form). A direct challenge to Andersen’s emotional, impulsive sheriff, he was the voice of reason and our eyes and ears as he first entered the town. When he died on the glacier, I was crushed. Please give Eugene Morton a prequel spin-off series, based in the UK and Europe, where he goes around solving crimes in usual droll, wry way.

So what started off as a crime drama grew into something else. A zombie western; an environmental horror; a doomed love story. The end of the world.

Paul Hirons

For all our Fortitude news, reviews and interviews, go here 



4 Comments Add yours

  1. wwendalynne says:

    I was madly disappointed in the season finale. I’m not sure what the writers expected having killed off the major characters; that is, the ones with any acting clout in the previous episodes The show turned into a psuedosci-fi mockery and I snort laughed through the entire episode in complete and utter disgust and disbelief. What up with the moody background music during that hatched-patched together scene with Elena at the Fortitude edifice? Music had never played a significant scene setting role in the previous episodes–hautingly wide-angled shots of pristine, barren and raw landscape, hell yes–bring it on! . I have been at a loss to put the words together to describe my viewing experience during the final episode. The series airs late in Canada through SuperChannel and I seriously regretted giving up my valuable sleep time. I still can’t believe the dolts killed off Stanley Tucci AND Michael Gambon pretty much in the same freaking episode. Their characters were the high points of the series; touchingly tragically so. Booo Hisss.. sigh.. serious lunchbag letdown.


    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Hey wwendalynne. Lunchbag Letdown… now there’s a phrase I’ll be using again! Thanks for the comment. I agree with a lot of what you say, but I LOVED the music throughout (apart from the theme tune, bizarrely)… thought it really added to the mood. But agree about the finale – very disappointing and just a bit strange.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. wwendalynne says:

        Ardently agree with your point regarding Fortitude Theme tuneage. Here’s why: My head likes to grab onto random riffs or stanzas of music which go into–and surely this is involuntary–permaloop in my head. Many a day I have rued the existence of the dreaded theme song, as in please lop my head off before I drive myself absolutely batshit crazy.. Water will keep running, rivers will turn. NOOOOOOOO!

        p.s. Thanks for excellent write-ups throughout the series.


  2. Bill says:

    Ditto. Excellent review. I actually was angered by the ending, feeling betrayed for having given 11 weeks to this, only see it putter to such a feeble ending. It was as if one expected the heart thumping of popping a little blue pill, expecting Viagra only to discover you’ve just eaten a Skittle….to steal from Barney Fife, “phfft!”


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