REVIEW: Salamander: Blood Diamonds (S2 E9&10/10)

This second series of Salamander (subtitled Blood Diamonds) has been an uneven ride, with so many strange inconsistencies, almost laugh-out-loud moments thanks to some unintentional comedy and a plot that at times has felt lazy and one that left you scratching your head.

As Our Andy pointed out last week, series one of Salamander at least featured some genuinely shocking moments, involving a shadowy, omnipresent cabal whose tentacles spread far and wide. This second series, however, featured a bunch of villains who ran a bank. That’s it. They ran a bank. Yes, there were some ex-Salamander members within it, but essentially they were a bunch of bankers. I’ve found it hard to be interested or scared by that.

And as for retreading old ground, yep, Salamander did plenty of that, which was a shame. In many ways, I wish Salamander had come back.

But first, we had to get to the end of the tiresome Jamie/Sofie love story, which formed part of the old retreading business. Jamie came clean about his Salamander past, and – because he loved Sofie – agreed to hand the film over to her dad. They arranged to meet at a location only he and her would know. Except P-9 was listening in so they eventually found out where that was, got there before them and set up its ambush. Except they were told to stand down at the last minute by bent Roppe, and Minnebach stepped in to take over.

It felt like the most part of episode nine featured men in cars driving slowly around Brussels. I’m sure the producers were aiming for some kind of tension here, but there was no urgency – which would have suited the situation – and even with the music simmering away it was about as tense as a bowl of Cornflakes. It was like watching Bullit on Tramadol.

And when Gerardi and Jamie finally met it was a faintly ridiculous scene. Instead of driving up to one another, Gerardi and Jamie’s cars stood off, as if they were in some vehicular duel, with at least 50 yards between the two. And, of course, you knew what was coming – Jamie was shot dead by a sniper, Gerardi was shot for being stupid (who stands up and shout “POLICE!” when they know there’s a sniper training his eye on you?), and Minnebach had the film.

So all was lost. Or was it?

As I suspected last week, Adams – who was suspicious at the way Roppe was handling things – become more suspicious of the way Roppe was handling things and smelled a rat. He hooked up with Gerardi (who had recovered miraculously for a man shot in the right lung) for lots of whispered conversations in hospital cupboards and he looked as though he was on his side. They went back to the scene of the shooting and to Jamie’s car – which was still there because, unlike any other half-decent police force, P-9 don’t clear up after its mess – and found the young man’s laptop in his boot. And yes, he had copied the film onto there.

Episode 10 featured a lot of talking. A lot of talking.

I’d always wondered why Prime Minister Marc de Coutere was so happy to go along with Jonatan Bury’s plan of getting General Bombé into power. And now we found out: it was all to do with Orkana Bank, a bank for the people, where ordinary folk invested their money; it struck the perfect balance between socialism and capitalism, de Coutere explained to a wincing Gerardi, his every move hurting his shoulder (yes, his shoulder not his lung). The bank had lost €2.3billion inexplicably – the crash – and Bury’s dealings with Bombé was to ensure that the bank, and its 8000,000 ordinary-folk customers, would get their money back.

So de Coutere was willing to gobble up blood diamonds for the good of the people.

For the people!

Oh, come on.

Except. Wait. But surely Minnebach were behind this whole scam, right? Anthony, Martine, Sabine and their gang who liked to sit around tables in modern offices were behind it. Right? And de Coutere was the Prime Minister of Belgium and he didn’t know this?

Sorry, I didn’t buy it.

The talking continued. In a last-ditch effort, Gerardi went to de Coutere’s private residence one night (because policemen can just bowl up to a PM’s private residence and get through security in a series like Salamander) and made an impassioned plea. Yes, there would be political chaos and instability, but look at all the people who have died. Look at his half-sister, Jacky Lanciers. This shocked de Coutere, and he obviously didn’t know his half-sister had been taken out.

And so, as the Minnebach gang celebrated in Kitangi on a jolly (including René, who had survived), de Coutere made statement to his people – he explained the Orkana situation, withdrew his support for Bombé and resigned.

Paul, meanwhile, had handed in his badge and was driving (more driving) out into the countryside with Sofie.

And that was it.

So yes, things were tied up and the Minnebach gang looked as though they were going to feel the full force of Bombé’s wrath. But really?

Although Salamander had its moments – series always do – and I do like series set in Belgium and I like the Flemish language, I just found this too inconsistent, too ridiculous at times and too lazy. And I’m not just talking about Gerardi napping on the job – the stereotypes were laughable, Gerardi himself – while emotional, likeable and headstrong – was just too incompetent to be taken seriously. His break-in into Martine’s place – where he was knocking things over left, right and centre – in episode eight really did take the biscuit and it seemed that everything he touched turned to well, you-know-what.

I’m kind of happy Gerardi hung up his badge at the end of it all, but remnants of Salamander remain. Who’s to say Gerardi and Salamander won’t face off in the future?

Paul Hirons





Orkana bank

800,000 people