We’re still in shock at last week’s senseless death of Larsson, so like Beck, we’re spending a lot of time staring into the abyss. He makes it clear he doesn’t believe in an afterlife. But despite being zonked out on Propavan and wine, Beck has to deal with a replacement, Steinar Hovland.
NB: There are spoilers galore after the jump
Holding a dual Swedish/Norwegian passport, Hovland is described as the ‘Petter Northug’ of policing – though Olympic skier Northug also had a drink-driving conviction. This doesn’t seem to daunt Beck’s boss, the prim Freden, who we discover is gay, though with his dress-sense, this doesn’t come as a great surprise.
Beck isn’t the only one who thinks the bearded man-mountain Hovland looks more like a hobo than a cop, but he seems to show sympathy for the team as they investigate the death of drug addict Mercedes Petterson, apparently killed in a caravan fire outside Stockholm.
Mercedes’ father Kaj is a suspect, as is sulky youth Morgan Vlasic, but was it more to do with his mother, a local politician with plans for a building development on the site? We suspect the body isn’t Mercedes at all, as fingerprints and DNA are inconclusive.
Hovland’s dry sense of humour goes down well, despite everyone’s problems with his accent, and it looks like the depressed Beck might have competition in the leadership stakes, particularly since he can’t find his spectacles. But Hovland clearly has a Tragic Secret connected with his family – his ex-wife turns up to say their daughter has gone missing.
Oskar confesses his feelings of guilt over being unable to save Larsson, and Hovland confesses that he’s still haunted by an unavoidable shooting; Beck meanwhile is being comforted by the fragrant pathologist Gunilla, though loopy neighbour Grannen advises caution with a tale of his own unintentional bigamy. Trust Grannen to be no help at all.
Ayda the Vulcan establishes that the caravan was owned by a Dr Falkengren, and it turns out that he is the charred corpse, which rather changes the game, as he was a respectable charity donor, and Mercedes is now a suspect. She’s hiding out somewhere, and shooting up.
Questioning of Mercedes’s caseworker and the members of a neighbourhood watch scheme throws up some interesting suspects, and Morgan Vlasic is questioned again, and admits to stoning the Falkengrens’ house.
Mercedes breaks cover to sell her car, and after administering a bit of physiotherapy to Hovland – which at least causes Ayda to crack a smile – Beck follows the leads to Mercedes’ caseworker Roger, who of course has been shagging her. Hovland cracks him by offering him buns – well, he makes it look that easy – and he leads them to Mercedes in time to save her from being roughed up by the neighbourhood watch.
Hovland calms the frantic Kaj and takes him to see Mercedes in hospital, where there’s a touching reunion. Hovland’s own daughter Lina, though, has been arrested buying cannabis, and the irony of the situation doesn’t escape him.
So if Roger and Mercedes alibi each other, who killed Falkengren? Hovland suspects neighbourhood watchman Wikstrand, and Freden supports him – but things come to a head when Freden makes it clear he’s lining up Hovland to replace Beck. Beck catches a lot of killers, but he does it so slowly, Freden complains – well, we kind of know how he feels. But Hovland tells Freden where to stick his offer.
Ayda comes up with a connection between Morgan and Falkenberg, who had been prescribing him anti-depressants; Hovland goes poking around the boatyard and finds widow Falkenberg’s spectacles. Turns out, she caught her husband abusing Morgan and paying him with drugs, and killed him in disgust.
The staid Beck isn’t entirely approving of Hovland’s illegal search of the boatyard, but offers him the compliment that the approach reminds him of Larsson; mind you, Larsson would probably have driven a tank through the boatyard and thrown the suspects in the river.
Though he still has his sulky daughter to deal with – what is it about teenagers in Sweden? – Hovland has certainly settled into the team, and displayed a loyalty to Beck which in the circumstances is remarkable. We’re not sure that we don’t sympathise with Freden in his desire for a faster clean-up rate.
Will Beck ever get over his bromance with Larsson, and fall for Hovland? Or will he take Grannen’s advice, and go for Gunilla? We know which we’d be inclined to, but then we’ve always disliked scratchy beards. If Hovland goes clean-shaven, we might reconsider.
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