Review: Modus (S1 E5&6/8), Saturday 10th December, BBC4

Programme Name: Modus - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 6) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Inger Johanne Vik (MELINDA KINNAMAN), Hedvig Nyström (ANNIKA HALLIN) - (C) © Miso Film 2015 - Photographer: Johan Paulin
 © Miso Film 2015 – Photographer: Johan Paulin

So far, Modus has been a slow, pot-boiler of a thriller. We’ve followed various narrative strands (very Scandi Noir) drift hither and thither and followed a chisel-jawed, ex-US Marine, Richard Forrester, as he’s been bumping off homosexuals in Stockholm. 

On the surface, these were my two favourite episodes of the series so far. The pace quickened, there was more procedural work and less dithering around Inger Johanne’s daughter, and many of the aforementioned narrative strands were tied up. An end was in sight. There were even some thriller elements knocking about.

As much as I enjoyed it, my lingering doubts about Modus were also rising to the surface. I still think the characterisation of the killer, Richard Forrester, is still cartoonish (although, I have to say, for a hitman he’s one of the worst I’ve seen on television, in terms of skill and finishing people off), and, however hideous his motivations are, the way they’ve been presented are a bit… naff. The church and the doctrine into which he subscribes feels like some sort of strange a facsimile of a far-right cult, the preacher almost laughably hammy rather than threatening. Some of the English script work also doesn’t ring true, choc-full as it is with corny lines and exposition.

No matter. Said preacher and church have been done way with now, thanks to Inger Johannes’ correspondence with her old FBI buddy.

Inger Johannes and Ingvar were following their noses in their quest to figure out what the 1+5 cult was all about and what it wanted to accomplish – killing five people to get to one. This sounded a bit greedy to be honest, and a bit of a song and dance – if you want to murder one person, just murder that person, don’t expend energy and risk getting caught by killing five others. And those five – the starter courses to the main course – were dispatched by the end of two episode. Robin, who we thought had escaped Forrester’s rubbish attempts to kill him at the end of episode four, succumbed (rather tragically, I thought) to blunt force trauma to the head, and a young Afghnastani rent boy, Hawre Ghani, was killed and dumped right outside Marcus’s office.

Ah, Marcus. Thanks to Rolf, who neatly spelt it out for us, four of the victims had ties to the shipping magnate, and Ghani was dumped outside his office because… well, I wasn’t entirely sure. For show? A warning? A warning to Marcus to stop being gay?

It all feels a bit ridiculous and far-fetched and silly, despite being enjoyable. The moment Inger Johannes profiled our killer after viewing all five victims in the morgue should have had impact and been a penny-dropping moment, but here’s the problem with Modus: Inger Johannes and Invar have been so far behind the developing storylines (or, rather, we’re so far ahead in terms of seeing the killer, his motives etc) that these moments have no real impact. A cat-and-mouse game needs to have balance and be executed with real, deft skill, but sadly Modus feels like a tortoise-and-mouse game most of the time. Take the Lindgren family storyline. It was a heartbreaking family yarn, where decades-old secrets, which had festered and become corrosive, were finally exposed and shown oxygen for the first time because of the murder of Elisabeth. The trouble is that we’re now so far ahead of the storyline it felt bolted on. Even seeing Erik, shotgun in mouth, didn’t have the requisite emotional impact.

Still, I like Inger Johannes as a character and I really like Ingvar and I’ll be watching next week as Forrester and his newly-revealed accomplice – Marcus’s PA – start their end-game.

Paul Hirons

For our episodes one and two review, go here

For our episodes three and four review, go here


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Charlotte Carling says:

    I agree with you on the English scenes, the script is worse for those bits and sometimes coupled with strange accents.

    The quality of the acting is rather uneven. Of the smaller parts I quite like Isak, Inger’s ex (Simon Berger, also good in Don’t Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves) and Hedvig, the pathologist, (Annika Hallin, Millennium).

    Rolf and Marcus (Peter Jöback and Magnus Roosmann) are not that convincing as a couple. Even with heaps of marital issues there should still be some connection, right? Jöback is doing his first real tv acting here and I feel like he hasn’t quite left his musical acting behind. Lacks a bit of subtlety.


    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Agree with everything you say… it just… doesn’t feel convincing, y’know?


      1. Charlotte Carling says:

        Jag vet. I’ll still watch the end though. Hopefully there will be a nice scene with Lukas and Vivika in there somewhere.


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