NB: SPOILERS INSIDE
So Jordskott’s back, then. Henrik Björn’s Nordic Noir with a supernatural twist was one of the most read-about shows on this site during its first run, which was surprising to me – even though it sometimes looked and felt like a Nordic Noir (you can discuss what makes a Nordic Noir, aside from the geographical settings, until the Svensk Fjällrasses come home) it did go into full bonkers territory – sometimes unintentionally laughable, dealing as it did with a woodland spirit kidnapping children, a not-so-subtle environmental back-story, characters like local police officer-cum-shady-organisation-worker Göran Wass and lady of the forest, Ylva, having parasites living inside them, black gunky liquid from the forest that gave its imbibers strange powers, and a telekinetic teen. It was all ridiculous and jolly good fun. So what does series two have in store?
The obvious thing to point out is that series two takes place in the city of Stockholm, rather than the country town of Silverhöjd. But as episode one began to unfold and we caught up with main players Eva Thörnblad (Moa Gammel) and Tom Aronsson (Richard Forsgren), you began to realise that while the city didn’t contain that lush bucolia that Silverhöjd did, it was a forest of a different kind – instead of trees there were tall buildings; instead of groves and glades there were underpasses and lakes. And this city – this metropolis – was under threat, too. If series one pressed home the point that invading and demolishing great swathes of forest was disturbing millennia-old spirits and myths and things that live in those places unseen by humans, series two seemed to set its stall out when Eva was watching a news report detailing environmental fears over a new gas pipeline. It felt like the themes of destroying our planet – both in the country and the city – were about to be explored again.
Underlying themes apart, this first episode of series two presented us with a new mystery, and it was much scarier than anything we saw in series one. While on a school trip, a young boy was alerted to a red bag floating in a frozen lake. When he broke off from the group to investigate, he saw the face of a withered man staring back at him from beneath the ice. Eva, now firmly ensconced back into city life despite recurring nightmares and flashbacks featuring her daughter, Josefine, was on the case. The problem was that there was no body to be found.
Throughout the episode we saw Eva live in her apartment – she had bought the flat next to mother’s place and had bought that too, but had the entrance boarded up. Tom was popping round and being the good friend that he is, but Eva was still finding it hard to re-adjust after everything that had happened in Silverhöjd. She still had to guzzle down the blank gunk to keep her parasite at bay at regular intervals.
And so the mystery of the man in the lake continued – he was seen lurching around the city like a zombie, and then he turned up at Eva’s apartment. This man cut a scary figure – he was skeletally-thin, had long, lank hair and his semi-naked body was suffering from what looked like partial necrosis. He looked like a zombie version of Rasputin.
Hospital tests concluded that he had endured severe torture to the extent that he had had his tongue cut out. And there was a link between him and the Thörnblads – he had obviously come for Eva, and he seemed to know her elderly (and rather bitter) mother, who we met in this episode.
The episode ended with the man escaping his hospital incubator, and – there’s no other word for it – exploding as he shuffled along a corridor. It was if his flesh was calcified and brittle, and as his pieces smashed against the floor, the question wasn’t who was he (although there is that), but what was he? (Just as an aside, the red bag attached to the man was found to be a bag of blood. Nice.)
We also saw Göran Wass emerge from a bathtub, forest vines mingling with his body so god knows what part he’s going to play in all this.
It was actually a pretty strong start – the city setting gave Jordskott more of a Nordic Noir vibe, and everything felt darker and scarier. We also got an intriguing sub-plot featuring illegal immigrants hidden away in the basement of some sort of silo building (with its twisting pipes and compressed and claustrophobic feel, it also reminded me of a forest). And, of course, Jordskott being Jordskott, I was left asking: where is it going to go this time?
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