Review : Before We Die (S1 E9/10), Tuesday 20th March, Channel 4



Returning after a little break thanks to the Winter Paralympics, Before We Die returned this week to bring us the penultimate episode in the season. Revelations well and truly abound, loyalties are tested to the limit, plotlines make absolutely no sense, characters are double then triple-crossed and somewhere on the Baltic Sea there is a submarine filled with heroin chugging toward Sweden that’s going to cause everybody a headache.

It’s exposition time! The Inner Council fill us on in on Christian’s find from his away day to Kalingrad in the previous episode. Davor plans to ship his bunkload of heroin into Sweden via an old Russian mini-submarine, but will need a freight ship to launch it – and there’s only one that can do it, conveniently. Apparently it’s easy to track these ships, so the trio of cops plan one final sting once they can track down exactly where the mini-sub will be arriving into.

Meanwhile, Christian is still having a hard time dealing with Stefan’s murder – not least because Blanka is, well, blanking him after she overheard Jovan drop the poor guy in it over the killing. Blanka’s absolute 360-degree turn on Stefan is one of the show’s greatest puzzles – you could argue in his death she’s felt guilt or remorse over her affair, but you wouldn’t know it from the script as Sandra Redlaff is seemingly just expected to look sullen or vaguely displeased at sharing the same space with Christian, rather than exploring properly her feelings or actions – a waste of a talented actor which is inexcusable for a show with ample running time to go there.

It’s not the only confusing plotline this week, which is topped by Petter’s predicament. It feels like Before We Die wanted originally to include a storyline about biker gangs at the start but absolutely ran out of steam with the idea about four episodes in, when it became a peripheral – and wholly unnecessary – element to the larger story. Facing charges for three murders after Davor planted the gun that killed Sara at his house, Petter is visited by his (obviously crooked) solicitor in jail to show him evidence that the Mimicas are tracking his family. He immediately understands the implications of what is being asked of him and confesses to all the murders, before slitting his wrists back in his cell with a razor blade hidden in the photo given to him by his counsel. With one episode to go into clearing this whole mess up, would it have been too much to spare Petter this inglorious end and see him re-united with his family? It felt less like a neat resolution to his character and more a desperate bid by the writers to clear a cluttered board of characters before they bring us the denouement to their story – and frankly, it left a bitter taste in the mouth after being so invested in the Mobsters second story for nine episodes.

With Petter’s death, the police are convinced the case is done – all except Fausta who is convinced there’s more going on. Despite being warned off meddling in a closed case by her thoroughly sleazy boss and lover Kanehed (who seems to spend more time with his trousers round his ankles then doing any actual police work), she scores a stroke of luck when Blanka is pointed out to her as the woman who identified Stefan’s body. After a little light persuasion she convinces Blanka to access Davor’s laptop for information on Stefan, Sven or Sara. Little does Fausta know how deep she is digging her own grave – even being warned so by Petter before his death – and when she sees a photo of Hanna with the Mimicas she immediately draws the wrong conclusion. Staking out the inner council, she follows them (including surly-looking SWAT team) on a wild goose chase to hunt down Majmun as he heads to the secluded boathouse we saw a few episodes back to bring in the heroin shipment – and you get the feeling her meddling is going to cost her good intentions in a fatal way.

Elsewhere at the Mimicas, Davor hosts Dubravka’s 60th Birthday and toasts his friends, helpfully leaning into Christian every few minutes to deliver an update on the shipment as it progresses through to Sweden. This seems quite an odd affectation, until Blanka’s actions reveal something that totally flips the script – uncovering video of Sven’s torture on Davor’s laptop where the unfortunate detective immediately gave up Christian as his informant – meaning the Mimica boss has known all along just who he’s been dealing with – and how that informs everything that’s gone before is immediately and irrevocably shifted – that’s if the writers have the guts to carry it through into the final episode and it’s not just a cheeky bait and switch.

Andy D

For all our reviews of Before We Die, click here


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