REVIEW: Below The Surface (S2 E3&4/8)

Only just making it before this evening’s new episodes, here is a recap of last week’s events. As compensation for my tardiness, and in response to Tim’s question, I have at least checked that the doors to the car deck do remain unlocked during the crossings.

At the end of episode two, we left Below The Surface having just geared up from kidnapping drama to hijacking. The terrorists are now in control of the ferry as it’s heading back to the middle of the strait.

A lot of the third episode is focused around a lack of information and some difficulties communicating. The terrorists have lost June and are making their way around the ferry to find her while also gathering the passengers in the lounge to keep them contained and under control. Collecting and deep-frying everyone’s mobiles mean there is no way for Philip and the other hostages to communicate with anyone on land. Panic and fear spread in the group as they are trying to work out what’s going on and one of the hostages offers up Junes location. For his troubles, he ends up being shot by Yusuf who broadcasts it over the tannoy in order to send a message to June. Interestingly, there isn’t the same focus on getting to know the background of the hostages, as there was in the first series. It’s a good choice, it would have been trying to tell too many stories.

While the previous series used Copenhagen’s Marble Church as a landmark location for some important discussions, this one has the Terror Task Force setting up temporary HQ at Kronborg Castle. Mandatory aerial shots incoming – and why not, it’s an imposing place even in the dark.

The TTF has little intelligence to start with, and boss Hejndorf (Flemming Enevold) tells Garnov (Esben Dalgaard Andersen) who has taken over Philips former role, that negotiating is the highest priority. Not an easy task as Mahdi impulsively pulls the phone off the hook and severs the connection. As they start going over CCTV material, they find that Mahdi’s car boarded the ferry and are now forced to contact Bülow as head of Military Intelligence due to the connection with June’s case. With two agencies, one of which much more secretive than the other, there might be more friction ahead.

Meanwhile, on the ferry, Yusuf is threatening to kill a mother and baby next. Philip urges June to come out. She is in no mind to surrender, but instead, she has a MacGyver moment in the kitchen improvising some hot frying oil grenades.

With a couple of the hostages in tow, June attempts to outmanoeuvre the terrorist but they end up in a stand-off with Yusuf pointing a gun to Philip’s head and June backs down and is captured once more.

With dawn coming closer, there is a discussion at HQ what route to take next. Negotiate or attempt to board the ferry and free the hostages. SP and Simon (who seem to be travelling up and down Zealand at an impressive speed) receive information from Mahdi’s wife about Rami being connected with a makeshift mosque in Copenhagen. As they investigate it’s clear The Brothers of Islam are keeping tabs on June. In their flat, explosives and weapons are found and with the increased threat, the Justice Minister (Maibritt Saerens) gives the go-ahead for the tactical unit to proceed with their operation.

On the ferry, June has been encouraged by waterboarding to reveal her phone number. As the terrorists spot Cramer and his team approaching over water, June is thrown in with Philip in the kitchen freezer. And one has to say it’s surprising that there seems to be not a single other vessel in that part of Øresund.

The unit makes its way through the ferry, searching section by section and fail to realise that a trap has been set for them. The explosion kills six hostages and Garnov who is supposed to command the operation from HQ freezes when he realises they have misjudged the enemy. It falls to Hejndorf to take over and order the unit to retreat from the ferry rather than risking the lives of the rest of the hostages.

Elsewhere, the Russians get their hands on June’s phone.

At the halfway mark we have racked up a few of June’s and Philips look backs and I find her story is told a bit more realistically. The portrayal of Philip’s mental journey since the metro situation 18 months back, doesn’t come across as entirely natural somehow. It seems a bit too black and white.

A character who is of more interest in these episodes is Mahdi, who had previously shot the navigating officer without blinking. Now he is somewhat influenced by the captain’s appeal for food for the hostages and shows some leniency or a hint of compassion as he brings it up with his brother. Now that one terrorist has been sacrificed and the situation is increasingly risky, what will shift between the others as we continue with the second half of the series?

Charlotte Carling



BBC Two acquires Vienna Blood

BBC Two has dipped into the cauldron of European crime drama and has acquired an English-language series set in Austria.

The three-part, feature-length, series, written by acclaimed screenwriter Steve Thompson (Sherlock, Deep State), is based on the best-selling Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis.

Starring Matthew Beard, and Juergen Maurer, Vienna Blood is set in 1900s Vienna, a hotbed of philosophy, science and art, where a clash of cultures and ideas play out in the city’s grand cafes and opera houses.

Max Liebermann (Beard) is a brilliant young English doctor, studying under the famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. When Max comes into contact with Oskar Rheinhardt (Maurer), an Austrian Detective Inspector struggling with a strange case, he offers his assistance. Max’s extraordinary skills of perception and forensics, and his deep understanding of human behaviour and deviance help Oskar solve some of Vienna’s most mysterious and deadly cases.

The series, filmed in English on location in Vienna, also stars Conleth Hill, Charlene McKenna, Amelia Bullmore, Jessica De Gouw and Luise Von Finckh.