Review: Arne Dahl (S2 E7&8/10), Saturday 7th November, BBC4

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Programme Name: Arne Dahl - TX: 07/11/2015 - Episode: Afterquake Pt1 (No. Afterquake Pt1) - Picture Shows:  Kerstin Holm (MALIN ARVIDSSON) - (C) Filmlance International AB - Photographer: Johan Paulin

(C) Filmlance International AB – Photographer: Johan Paulin

Afterquake – the only title in this series that makes much sense so far – clearly has two meanings. Kirstin Holm is dealing with the death of her lover Bengt – she totally blames her ex, Paul – and Stockholm suffers a bomb attack on its underground network. But though a gang of racist thugs seems to be plotting something with the help of an English-speaking visitor, the bomb kills relatively few – so why was it set at night rather than in rush hour? And were some passengers deliberately guided away from the explosion?

The A-Unit is called to a state of high alert when a call made in English claims responsibility for a group called the Holy Riders of Siffin, a reference to Syria. The call is traced to an immigrant, Talakami, and Chavez and Gunnar stake him out; after an extended scene in which nothing much happens, Talakami and his wife are taken without incident.   

Talakami sounds dodgy, and another witness, Ask, puts him at the scene where the call was made, but he’s alibied by a girlfriend. Is Ask an extremist, and setting up Talakami? Ask is set upon by a mysterious gun-toting English-speaking bald man, who kills his girlfriend, but Ask himself escapes. When Gunnar and Ida come with more questions, they find Ask fled, his girlfriend dead, and a book containing a quote from the bomber’s phone call.   

Arto investigates the peculiarities of the bombing, while Kirsten goes to question a UN representative, Annie Brandt, who is negotiating a peace treaty. But Paul gets the break, when a subway cleaner comes to him with a peculiar story about the behaviour of a cop on the platform on the night of the bombing.

Ask flees to his gym with the killer in hot pursuit, and is captured by Kirstin, but then assassinated from a distance.

So what’s going on? Arto thinks the bombing victims were members of some sort of sex ring, but our money is on a Secret Service conspiracy; someone in the train must have been the target, and someone in power must have positioned them there. Is the English-speaking assassin a Secret Service man too? He’s no gentleman, that’s for sure, and he clearly now wants to wipe out his racist buddies .

In episode two, the A-Unit move with all the urgency of a bored Ikea shop assistant in tracking down Ask’s gang; don’t they realise that they are the next victims? When they finally lurch into action, it’s too late, and two more of the extremists have been killed. Their names seem to mean something to sinister intelligence man Tillberg – is he implicated? He’s certainly erased the identity of one of the bombing victims.

Then, in something of a deus ex machina, a survivor of the bombing comes wandering out of the tunnel. Chavez establishes that she and several of the other victims used a sex chatline; Arto’s theory looks like being correct. Their plan was to round up sex clients and humiliate them on video; but the victim Molly doesn’t know who planted the bomb.

In search of the last member of the gang, Faber, Kirstin and Sara investigate a bowling alley, and see the assassin, who they identify as Grauss, a Belgian ex-soldier who now trains extremists. But this doesn’t explain why he’s bumping them off.  

Paul’s subway witness identifies Tillberg as the cop he saw on the platform; this is confirmed on CCTV footage (but wouldn’t this have been looked at before?)

Molly’s contact Johanna turns out to have been abused by her partner, who it transpires is Tillberg’s son. Is he the unidentified bomber, and is this what Tillberg was covering up?

Faced with the evidence, Tillberg confesses that his son blew himself up in a bid to kill his ex-girlfriend, and possibly his father, who he had summoned by text.

Grauss seems to have left the country, but has slipped back to kill EU negotiator Brandt; Paul establishes this from CCTV and credit card records, and Kirstin is just in time to put a bullet in Grauss.

Finally Kirstin reclaims her son from her neighbour, no doubt wishing that Bengt, or even Paul, was still around to do the babysitting.

When Paul finally explains to Kirsten that it was Bengt’s idea that he go on the fatal assignment last week , she sort of apologises to him; surely she didn’t think that he had deliberately put Bengt in harm’s way? So does this open up the possibility of a reunion?

Afterquake (surely Aftershock would be a better translation?) is rather similar in plot to previous episodes, in which bald men have gone around murdering other bald men until someone tracks them down through their phone records. It’s also surprisingly slow, with no sense of urgency even while the trail of slaughter continues. Let’s hope that next week’s finale offers something of a change of pace – a wedding, perhaps?

Chris Jenkins

For our episodes one and two review, go here

For our episodes three and four review, go here

For our episodes five and six review, go here

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