Review: Arne Dahl (S2 E5&6/10), Saturday 31st October, BBC4

Programme Name: Arne Dahl - TX: n/a - Episode: Hidden Numbers Pt2 (No. Hidden Numbers Pt2) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Sara Svenhagen (VERA VITALI), Ida Jankowicz (NATALIE MINNEVIK) - (C) Filmlance International AB - Photographer: Johan Paulin

(C) Filmlance International AB – Photographer: Johan Paulin

Never let it be said that the A-Unit won’t tackle any sort of case thrown their way; so far we’ve had Mafia murders and espionage, and now it looks like the ill-assorted team is tackling sex trafficking. Two Swedish girls have died in Belgium after being kidnapped, and one spoke before her death of her kidnapper having a ‘dark heart’ – is this a reference to a Swedish biker gang? Kirstin Holm and the team are set to find out before there are more victims. Too late – another fifteen-year-old girl has disappeared from a Pentecostal summer camp.

The chief suspects are a biker gang, the Dark Hearts, but someone’s been offing them with extreme prejudice.
Meanwhile, Kerstin has decided to move in with Bengt, and tries to broach the subject with Paul, but he’s being a dick, or perhaps he’s preoccupied with the case he’s investigating of a cop harrassing a sex worker. When his officious assistant suggests that he should wear brighter colours to cheer himself up, we’re inclined to agree.
Sara and Ida learn that the missing girl Lykke had met a man on the internet – shouldn’t the cops have checked the girl’s phone and computer first thing? While they’re stumbling forward, Lykke is being held, bound, by some sinister thug.
Chavez eventually analyzes Lykke’s online activity and finds that the man she was in contact with was a sex offender living under an assumed identity; when Sara and Ida go to grab him, they find a neighbour in the house, and Ida inconsiderately shoots him in the leg. She seems to be going slightly bonkers, though we don’t know exactly why – is this case getting to her for some reason?
Lykke almost escapes – they don’t make brown tape like they used to – but as she runs, more of the kidnap gang turn up. Perhaps they’re a bit better organised.
There’s a shocker in the opener of Part 2, as a jogger is gunned down by someone with a silenced rifle. The victim turns out to be Paul’s suspect, Danielson – is this a result of the complaint against him, or related to biker Jansson’s murder?
Paul and Kirsten have A Moment when she come to discuss her case, really a front to discuss her doubts about moving in with Bengt.
Sara and Ida find the sex offender Tomas, but he’s been shot, beaten and hanged. Still no sign of kidnapped Lykke though, and Ida, who has been relieved of her gun, seems even more distressed, and almost cracks up when she’s alone that night. She later explains that the case is affecting her because she was abused by her uncle. Sara, much more experienced in this kind of case, has to tell her to remain detached.
As more members of the paedophile ring are found beaten and shot, sex-worker Angelica explains to Paul that dead cop Danielson had abused her as a child, and had been seen with another young girl. Bengt insists on investigating immediately, and in person, finds Danielson’s studio hideout, full of incriminating child porn videos, and Chavez turns up pictures of Black Hearts gang leader Jeppson’s daughter.
Jeppson in fact seems to be controlling the murders of the paedophile ring, in revenge for their abuse of his daughter. Lykke is being held for her protection while the remaining perps are bumped off, but now she’s seen too much, and has to be disposed of.
When Paul and Bengt go to the address of Kilander, the last of the ring and the owner of the studio used by Danielson, Jeppson turns up and shoots him, and Bengt; Jeppson’s arrrested,  but Kirstin arrives too late to save Bengt, and is grief-stricken.
It’s down to Sara and Ida to prevent Jeppson’s henchman from killing Lykke.
This is perhaps the grimmest Arne Dahl story so far, yet we can’t agree with RT critic Alison Graham’s view that it was distasteful or lingered over-long on gore – we’ve seen far worse from Lynda LaPlante. Though it does have to be said, if the A-Unit ever waited for backup rather than storming in unaided, they might get shot up less.
One of the most notable features of this story was the way in which the music, always slightly off-kilter and disturbing, mutated into a grinding, David Lynch-style ambient fuzz, suggestive of the disturbed underworld psychology of the perpetrators.  It’s good to see that the producers are willing to be a bit experimental.
More typical was the way in which the personal lives of the characters were interwoven with the case – in more than one instance, to the detriment of the investigation. But for us, while the additional time for Ida was appreciated, we could have done with far less of the Paul-Kirsten-Bengt triangle. Well, that’s over now. We never warmed to Bengt, because we thought he was going to turn out to be corrupt, but now he’ll be sanctified.
Will Paul ever be able to win Kirsten back? Does he want to? Or is his secretary a better bet?
And when will Gunnar get some off-duty action? So far this series all he’s had to do is wrestle with perps. It’s like he has nothing better to do with his time than police work.
Chris Jenkins  
For our episode one and two review, go here
For our episode three and four review, go here

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