REVIEW: Wisting (S1 E5&6/10)

I wondered last week whether Wisting – the 10-part Norwegian series – will spin the Line kidnap storyline out for another 10 episodes, or whether, because there were a full six episodes left, she would shuffle off this mortal coil quite quickly.

Just before Christmas, we saw that Sarah Phelps had melded two Tana French novels into one, eight-part series (Dublin Murders), and I just automatically assumed this was going to be the case with Wisting because Dublin Murders was so fresh in my mind. But no – as Our Charlotte has pointed out this series of 10 episodes features two Jørn Lier Horst novels (The Caveman and The Hunting Dogs) in separate instalments (ie. five episodes per story).

This was a bit of a relief, not least because I really couldn’t see how they could stretch that Line story out for so long. So we didn’t have to worry about that.

Episode five, the final episode of the first story, was fast-paced and very watchable. I wrote in my initial review of Wisting that William Wisting – the series’ lead character no less – was a bit on the dreary side, but here, with real jeopardy hanging over him, he really kicked into action – he was desperate, anxious, and angry, stomping around from one place to the other and kicking down doors searching for this daughter (who was locked away in Godwin’s boot).

It kind of went the way you’d expect it to go – there were no real big twists and turns, just a few red herrings, and some serious momentum ramped up thanks to the strong join-the-dots element. Eventually, Wisting did locate and rescue his daughter after a bit of jump from a helicopter and a punch-up in front of a burning barn, almost action hero style. In the end, it was fitting that FBI agent Maggie Griffin got to shoot her nemesis and Wisting (with some help from Line) pushed Godwin down into a well.

The denouement to that story was all tense and enjoyable, but once it was all over I had to take a step back and ask myself: what actually just happened there? Because really…  I had no idea. The body of a Norwegian man was found, and the DNA of  American serial killer Robert Godwin found on him. Viggo Hansen had died on his sofa, and his death was being investigated by Line. Viggo, it was established, had been watching a programme on serial killers when he died and, previously, had been hospitalised because of delusions – he maintained that someone he went to school with, Ole Ling, had somehow changed into someone else… and Ole Ling had been identified as the man whose identity Robert Godwin took. So poor Viggo was right all along – he wasn’t having delusions.

But how did Viggo really die, and what was his link to Crabb? I had to consult Our Charlotte to discuss it, and she confirmed that Crabb had visited Viggo one summer. But I still wasn’t sure why.

It was all a bit of a mess and the links between the two men seemed very tenuous, but thankfully the sheer pace and momentum carried you through. Despite all the plot stuff, it was a good watch.

In episode six, a new story began.

In that first story, we were briefly introduced to Vidar Haglund, who had just got out of prison for, what he claimed,  a murder he didn’t commit (ex-copper and now full-time stalker Frank Robekk was on his trail, and still was).

Now, after being lauded as a hero for catching Robert Godwin, Wisting was invited onto a national news show to talk about his exploits. Except that on the same show, Haglund’s lawyer was also invited on and blindsided Wisting, accusing him and the police of planting evidence during the investigation into the murder of Cecilia Linde and wrongfully convicting his client.

This episode was all about showing how Wisting went from hero to (almost) zero. With Line’s newspaper, VG, leading the charge of reporting his fall from grace and his own boss suspending him, he was in a spot of bother. Haglund’s conviction, it seemed, hinged on the DNA found on three cigarette butts found at the scene of the crime, which was now being disputed by everyone.

Elsewhere, Line was back in Oslo and was furious at her newspaper’s treatment of her father. So she was sent out to investigate a murder case – a dog walker was found clubbed to death in one of the city’s parks – and, as ever, she got into some scrapes. What are the odds that these two cases will somehow collide like they did in the first story?

The episode finished on an interesting note, and a bit of a twist: Wisting, gathering evidence from the Cecilia Linde case before he was chucked out of the building, more or less admitted to his boss Andrea that he had tampered the evidence to make the case ‘go away’ after she had put out a dodgy statement.

So William Wisting, that impassive policeman who seems like a decent guy is suddenly thrust into a corruption case. Interesting turn of events.

Paul Hirons