Review: Fortitude (S2 E5/10), Thursday 23rd February, Sky Atlantic

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1000There’s a common sci-fi trope whereby the protagonists are somehow trapped in a limited area with something trying to get them – think Alien, or Village of the Damned, or Under the Dome. Fortitude is a perfect example of the genre – or is it?

NB: Spoilers

For a start, there’s nothing to stop anyone leaving Fortitude at any time – okay, the inhabitants might be snowed in at some times, but not constantly.

And then, the threats to the community seem to be remarkably choosy – even the mad decapitator isn’t killing at random, the victims seem to be part of some specific scheme.

So why stay? Only Hildur seems to have a real reason, her devotion to duty, and that’s mainly stubbornness on her part.

So no, if the inhabitants of Fortitude can’t leave, it’s not because of an invisible dome, or the freezing wastes, or a horde of zombies – it’s because they are trapped in Fortitude by their own weaknesses.

Petra is the only one who seems to think that the killer is a shaman – even though Tavrani’s corpse and the missing body parts are a big clue. Eric’s trapped in his own narrow vision of reality, when you would have thought that the wasp attacks would have opened his mind to otherworldly possibilities.

Vincent’s trapped by his traumatic reaction to the wasp attack, apparently stricken by hysterical blindness; Dan’s trapped by his guilt over Elena, and Eric over his devotion to Hildur and his (justifiable) feeling that he’s not accepted as a successor to Dan.

So, all are as much trapped in Fortitude as if it were under an invisible dome, and the killer can toy with them as if they had no chance of escape.

The choir sings a William Blake hymn at Bianca’s wake; Blake’s apocalyptic visions we know, of course, but do they figure in the killer’s plans for resurrection? He seems perfectly solid and human when he stakes Tavrani’s tongue to a window ledge, and he bleeds when Eric shoots him – but could he have transformed into the dog Eric sees running away?

Of course it’s Bianca’s head in the bag Eric finds – it’s all a bit Se7en. But what’s the killer going to do now that’s he’s lost the body parts he needs for his shamanistic ritual?

Now, we knew Munk was up to something, but we’re a bit astonished that he seems to have conspired with the bartender in the death of Bianca – but they’re even more astonished that Freya’s demon-hunting shaman Vladek has discovered Bianca’s head and led the cops to it, taking a bullet in the process. So if he wasn’t the killer, who was, and why?

Hildur is gifted some evidence about what went on in Vukobejina in 1942 – luckily Michael has a 16mm film projector, so they can watch the evidence of tissue regeneration in wasp victims. As we imagined previously, Michael’s thoughts turn immediately to his wife’s degenerative illness.

Khatri, though apparently ruthless in investigating the same tissue regeneration, has begun to show some emotion, so perhaps she’s human after all – Natalie, though, treats the blind Vincent with an apparent lack of compassion, using the old ‘throwing the jar of wasps’ trick to shock him out of his hysterical blindness. Well, it works, but what if it hadn’t?

Dan’s attempt to switch off Elena’s life support has the opposite effect to that intended, and she revives – rather implausibly, energetic enough to knock out Khatri and flee into the night.

Now, Eric can’t be that bad a cop, because his fine detective work fingers the barman as Bianca’s killer; but of course we aren’t now sure that he was also the killer of Hindemith. It’s a moot point, as Vladek gets to the barman and butchers him first. Is this the end of the demon threat? Can’t be, we’re only half-way through the season.

Our suspicions? Well, how much do we really know about Markus Huseklepp (Darren Boyd)? So far he’s just been a slightly creepy presence lurking around the periphery of the action – but what better disguise for a demon?

Chris Jenkins

Four our episode one review go here

Four our episode two review go here

Four our episode three review go here

Four our episode four review go here

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