We kinda thought we’d seen the last of Martin Beck (Peter Haber) two years ago – and with the tragic loss of his steely blue-eyed sex-bomb colleague Gunvald Larsson (Mikael Persbrandt), the steam seemed to have gone out of the long-running Swedish police procedural.
But, dependable as Ikea meatballs, Beck is back (this season was shown at the start of the year in Sweden), lured out of retirement by an old oppo from the intelligence services. Time hasn’t been kind to him – any remainder of Peter Haber’s sexual charisma has now deserted him, and these days he looks like an unenthusiastic entrant in a Kelsey Grammar lookalike contest.
Uncharacteristically, the episode opens with the fatal beating of a young man in Jordan.
Beck, meanwhile, is reconciled with his daughter Inger (Rebecka Hemse), but missing his dead son Micke, from whom he was estranged; his regret over this relationship is clearly his motivation for accepting a plea from Tina Sellstedt (Charlotta Jonsson) of security service SÄPO to look into the case of a youth, Nabil Ashrawi, who he met on a previous case, and who she thinks may have been radicalised.
In fact, we think Nabil’s engineer brother Kasim has been recruited for an act of terrorism, so can Beck catch him before it’s too late?
Meanwhile a young girl, Josefin Lindblad, has gone missing after work, and frost giant Steinar Hovland (Kristofer Hivju) is in charge of the case. Command sits uneasily with Steinar, but he goes to question Josefin’s sleazy boss.
The soundtrack features a ticking clock motif which reminds us of Kasim’s mission – are the two connected? Has Josefine somehow found out something about Kasim, and been silenced? His name’s on her phone records, and Kasim’s certainly up to something bomb-y, in between getting hassled by racist cops.
There’s more ominous ticking as Beck sits watching a TV talk show about disaffected youth, but when he goes into the office, where he gets a warm welcome from former colleagues, he doesn’t realise that they’re talking about Kasim.
Kasim admits to nothing under questioning, and Beck gets nothing from the parents, but Josefine’s boss now admits to driving her to Kasim’s student residence – so did Kasim do away with her when she found out about his plans? That seems to be the case, when Steinar finds her strangled in Kasim’s room.
Beck and Steinar finally twig that their cases are connected, and Beck gets Kasim’s parents to admit that he is trying to persuade Nabil to come home from Jordan; but they wrongly think Kasim is there too.
Implausibly, Steinar flies all the way to Jordan, establishing what we have alread guessed – that honest Kasim was beaten to death, and Nabil the terrorist has taken his place and returned to complete his terrorist mission – that’s why he had to kill Josefin, to stop her from revealing the swap.
Well, the trip to Jordan gets Steinar out of the office, and throws him together with a sexy diplomatic attache.
Beck, meanwhile, is playing chess with his cantankerous neighbour Grannen (Ingvar Hirdwall), who we somehow thought had died; perhaps it was wishful thinking. He’s still in his neck brace though, and spinning yarns about his international sex adventures, possibly true, but amazingly irrelevant to the plot.
Astonishingly, Steinar resists the offer to bang the Swedish attache, and flies back to face the situation, that Nabil the terrorist is in Stockholm, and has a target (which we imagine is a world music convention we heard mentioned on the radio).
Nabil’s getting all bombed-up in his parents’ basement when his mother finds him, and gets clobbered; he sends a diversionary text suggesting that his target is a hockey match. Unconvinced, Steiner has it staked out; but Nabil’s mum recovers in time to inform them of the real target.
Nabil’s got into the concert, which apparently has no security checks whatsoever, but his mother catches up with him; obviously he’s not the brother with the engineering talent, because he hasn’t equipped himself with a dead man’s switch. With his mother’s help, he’s taken in alive.
So, happy ending? Well, Beck gets a bottle of his favourite Calvados, and gets offered the job of his former boss Mats; they need his mind, not his footwork, he’s told. He goes away to think about it, but we know what he’ll say…
Concluding with another encounter with Grannen, this episode hardly illuminates new aspects of Beck’s character, or new dimensions to the plot; in fact it wastes a good half an hour establishing the obvious identity swap plot.
Nonetheless, it was good to see Beck back in action – he’d even had a shave by the end of the episode, which was welcome – and it will be interesting to see what he can achieve as boss, now that his team is apparently working more cohesively and without the interference of pen-pushers. Now if only Beck could get his love-life together with equal effect…
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