REVIEW: Wisting (S1 E3&4/10)

The opening two episodes of Norwegian series, Wisting, was a welcome to return to form for the BBC Four, Saturday-night slot, and a very welcome slice of new Nordic Noir on these winter nights.

I’ve been busy compiling our end-of-year charts and countdowns, but now it’s back to the grindstone and our meat and potatoes – watching and reviewing.

So we come to the second instalment of Wisting double bills, and things are starting to hot up (or at least much as it can do at Christmas-time in Norway).

William Wisting and his team – including American FBI agents Maggie Griffin and John Bantham – are beginning to realise the extent to which repatriated serial killer Robert Godwin has been at work when they deduce that his murder map might have included parts of Sweden.

But what of policeman Nils Hammer, who it was revealed at the end of episode two in a pretty neat twist/cliffhanger that he had a video feed directly plugged into his phone of a young, blonde woman (Godwin’s favourite), seemingly kept against her will in a basement.

It was a red herring.

Hammer explained to Wisting in episode three that his estranged wife Sissel was being locked away while she battled drug addiction. Indeed, scenes between the two –  where Sissel acknowledged that she had to be locked up for her own good – confirmed this.

It also explained why Hammer was so stressed all the time, not least in Griffin’s company.

In fact, the cultural differences between the US and Norway were explored via Wisting and Griffin. Griffin, because she was the only person to have seen Godwin up close and personal, argued that she should be able to view hidden camera footage – placed on officers – during door-to-door investigations. Wisting refused. And then there was the question of guns.

Thanks to a few leads, they found more bodies in wells. The gruesome findings were a reality check for the team, and it told them what they were up against. For ex-policeman Franck Robekk, who was still obsessively investigating the disappearance of his daughter, Ellen, it was a sobering moment. Her body had been found near to the site of Crabb’s and in a well with a dozen other poor souls.

Elsewhere, Line was also continuing her investigation into the death of next-door neighbour Viggo Hansen.

She found that there were some peculiarities with the case, not least when a locksmith told her that the deceased had asked for an extra lock and window re-enforcements. He had been scared, but of what?

Further investigations led her to find and question some of Viggo’s old school chums, one who acted very strangely in a fancy restaurant. After he had stormed out, in stepped John Bantham, who happened to be in the same bar. The two ended up sleeping together. A complication.

Throughout this investigation Wisting and Griffin were at pains to keep Crabb’s murder, his link with Godwin and the FBI’s involvement a secret because they didn’t want Godwin to know they were onto him. They wanted to keep the element of surprise.

However, John sleeping with Line, who had real issues with her father, was a potential stone in the wheel. And sure enough, after their first night together she found his wallet, emblazoned with the FBI logo. It didn’t take long for her to make a phone call to her editor, who then put two and two together and splashed a front-page exclusive in their newspaper. The secret was out, and the panic was on.

Throughout these four episodes, Wisting hadn’t answered her calls, had missed a meal his son Thomas had cooked him and was generally being a work-obsessed Bad Dad. So her actions were entirely justified. But you had to ask why Wisting didn’t trust that little bit and ask her to keep everything schtum until they had made their move. Make a deal with her: keep everything quiet until they had their man and then she could have her exclusive.

There were consequences for this lack of communication: at the end of episode four, her car broke down at the side of the road. And guess who stopped to help her out?

Yep. The Highway Killer himself, Robert Godwin.

I was expecting this development at some stage, but perhaps not this early in the series. We’re either going to see the demise of Line quite quickly, or this will be dragged out until the end in a race-against-the-clock scenario.

We’ll see. Whatever happens, Wisting is shaping up to be a very solid procedural, and it has my attention.

Paul Hirons