REVIEW: Darkness: Those Who Kill (S2 E1&2/8)

It’s been a while since we’ve had a decent Scandi Noir on a Saturday night on BBC Four.

This year series two of Danish series Follow The Money has been the stand-out so far, so hopes were high that Darkness: Those Who Kill, another Danish series, would do the business.

Darkness: Those Who Kill (Den som dræber) is a reboot of a series from 2011, which followed a fictitious unit within Copenhagen Police that specialised in investigating serial murders.

Based on an original idea by Elsebeth Egholm, the first season originally aired as five two-part stories and concluded with the feature film Fortidens Skygge. However, season two is set to be a single, continuous crime story across eight episodes that delves into the darkest of human minds in a case described as a ‘whydunnit’ rather than a ‘whodunnit’.

So then, it was all set up to be a goodie.

Wasn’t it?

Jan Michelsen (Kenneth M. Christensen) is a broad-shouldered, unsmiling, frankly dull and uncharismatic cop (probably not a good combo for a leading man) who is investigating the disappearance of a young, blonde-haired woman – Julie – from Greve, a suburb of Copenhagen, who went missing six months ago.

He’s convinced she’s still alive and he promised her parents that he would find her (not ideal for a policeman), so even when he’s taken off the case to concentrate on something else, he’s still looking into it in his spare time.

And, wouldn’t you know, that’s when he finds a connection between a missing woman case 10 years ago and Julie… just by following a map and looking wistfully into a lake.

Sure enough, there are enough connections between the body in the lake – yes, they found a body in the lake – and missing Julie.

Laughing Boy Jan decides to get a criminal profiler in on the case, and his two superiors bark exposition aplenty at each other for our benefit as they explain who Louise Bergstein is… she’s a shit-hot profiler who was headhunted by English police, no less. (If you’re wondering, being headhunted by the English police is not necessarily a good thing.)

Louise is instantly into things, plucking facts and assumptions seemingly out of thin air. What was more worrying is that Laughing Boy and his team believe every word she says.

But there’s one crucial thing to remember here – Louise has to be persuaded to work on this case. Something bad happened to her in the past.

But of course she can’t resist, and soon Jan and Louise are running around Copenhagen interview people and working through suspects.

So what we have here is a heavily expositionary procedural that certainly looks great, feels right and is very atmospheric. It’s just that it’s so formulaic, so familiar and oh-so textbook that’s it difficult not to just shrug your shoulders at it. The two leads don’t have an awful lot of chemistry, Laughing Boy is about as charismatic as a plank of wood (he does eventually smile, and even kiss someone, around 30 minutes into episode two) and they just don’t hold your interest. This, of course, may change as the series beds in.

As for the case, we actually see the kidnapper and murderer. He’s snatched another young woman and tied her up in his basement. There, with her, is Julie, snatched six weeks before.

Now we have a race-against-the-clock scenario, and the Jan and Louise know how did it Anders Kjeldsen  – a janitor at the local school.

Not the most promising start, but it may improve.

Paul Hirons

 

 

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Zeke Black says:

    Does anyone know…Is there anything beyond victimizing women
    in this Series?
    I’m about done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. marijo1951 says:

    One possibly original aspect of the plot is that the murderer has a girlfriend whom he treats atrociously, in fact nearly strangling her, yet who colludes with him in his kidnappings and even helps him by keeping the girls hidden and providing their food. She indulged in some feeble resistance (changing the door code on her house) but gave in completely to his charms the moment she saw him afterwards. As she is evidently intelligent and has a good job, a nice house and a family who want to keep in touch with her although she doesn’t treat them very well, it might be interesting to find out what motivates her. Is it worth putting money on her attending the psychologist’s women’s group?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jane says:

    Interesting you say the first series was made up of two parters as I thought last night’s story was going to be wrapped up by end of episode two. Not sure how they’re going to spin this out over 8 episodes

    Like

  4. We zoned out of this part way through ep2 – the violence, for one.
    as my wife said: What if all films and dramas were about violence, stalking.and rape of men. Would there be no outcry, then, either?

    Mitigate the motives the best you can, it still comes down to women as perpetual victims.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Paul Hirons says:

      Very fair point, Michael.

      Like

    2. Elaine S says:

      Very much so. Not sure whether I’ll watch again due to the violence inflicted on women coupled with a preposterous story line.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Keith says:

    Interesting to read such a negative review and comments. I found it pretty gripping, especially with the twist at the end of episode two that I hadn’t seen coming at all.

    I admit that I’m wondering how they will keep this up for six for episodes unless we’re heading into Josef Fritzl territory but it’s a welcome start to autumn all the same,

    Like

  6. Terry I. says:

    I liked it as well. That was an interesting twist in episode two and looking forward to seeing more.

    Like

  7. modben2695 says:

    What’s wrong with it? Are coppers supposed to be ‘laughing boys’? I never met one who made me laugh. Why does there have to be ‘chemistry’ between the cop and the profiler? It looks to me as if the writer is saying straight from the off; “this isn’t The Bridge”. I quite like it and there are already more twists and turns then there are in your philosophy.

    Like

  8. sel539 says:

    I’m finding it very uncomfortable to watch. I’ve watched plenty of dramas with a kidnap/sexual violence theme but this isn’t being handled well I think so it seems gratuitous. It made me think about The Missing (2) which had a similar theme and was well done I thought. The characters are a bit bland and not very convincing, maybe that’s it….not sure….

    Like

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