REVIEW The Investigation (S1 E5&6/6)

In dubio pro reo. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This legal terminology is at the heart of The Investigation this week as the case reaches it’s solemn conclusion, and the team scramble to fit the evidence to the crime in pursuit of conviction.

Despite the days spent on the case now stretching into triple figures, the team are no closer to an indictment then they were at the very start of the investigation. Part of this is down to the perpetrator altering their story to fit the unfolding facts, and with last week’s revelation that the recovery of Kim’s remains didn’t reveal the cause of death, his narrative now changes again – to that of her dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

It’s another maddening lie – but the burden is on the police to disprove it.

So, they go back to square one. Was Kim Wall’s death murder? Suicide? Accidental? We witness the team re-asses the evidence they have in pursuit of the most elusive part of this case – a motive. There is more focus in these closing episodes on the perpetrator’s deviant predilections – but as prosecutor Jakob explains, whilst these might be morally reprehensible, they aren’t illegal. It’s an interesting exploration into just how much the law protects the accused from prosecution – and how difficult the task is for police to navigate through all these legal complexities toward the hope of a conviction.

Nobody doubts the perpetrator’s guilt – but reinforcing that belief to a prosecutable degree is another thing altogether.

And so, back to the enduring grind of locating more evidence. The Navy is understandably losing patience with the investigation, after a long, cold winter spent diving for more proof. Slowly, the sea gives up it’s last secrets – the bench-saw used for the dismemberment, and finally, Kim’s arms. It’s a grim sense of relief for the diving team, who have sacrificed so much of their own lives to the search – certainly no cause for celebration, but instead the humble acknowledgement of bringing a daughter back to her parents to be buried in peace.

It’s a huge achievement of human resourcefulness, but unfortunately the final remains don’t bring the case any closer to the courtroom. Again, there is no indication of the cause of death – but what it equally proves is there’s no evidence of suicide. When technical experts also disprove the perpetrator’s convoluted story about the submarine’s fatal malfunction, accidental death is also ruled out. Slowly but surely, the case narrows down onto one single cause of death – murder.

We are all accustomed to the “smoking gun” of crime dramas, the piece of evidence that neatly condemns the accused and confirms their guilt. But this is real life, and there’s nothing like that here. Instead, we follow the confounding maze of dead ends the investigation has to navigate, as Jens tirelessly negotiates with the Forensics department over the wording in a report or Jakob ties himself in nervous knots trying to second guess any procedural pitfalls that will prevent him from securing a conviction. It’s evident in their growing frustration that the weight of this case rests heavier on their shoulders than ever.

And yet, it’s within the minutiae of real police work that they find a way through.

Maibritt’s dedication to the case evidence pays dividends when she uncovers a disparity in the perpetrator’s story against the timing of the stab wounds inflicted on Kim. It’s a slight thing – barely a sentence in a report – but it’s enough to shut down the argument of reasonable doubt and secure an indictment. It’s a victory for the quiet determination of the case officers who committed so much to the investigation – but crucially it’s not played for dramatic purpose. More than anything, the lack of celebration subtly shows just how draining this investigation was for all it’s participants.

The police investigation concludes, and the case moves to court – but in keeping with the way this story has been framed from the start, there’s no protracted drama here, and certainly no focus on the perpetrator. Instead, we are simply told of the outcome – and the fact it amounted to life imprisonment is a testament to the enormity of human endeavour that was placed in securing it.

There’s a small coda to the story, with Jens retiring and Joachim scouring the seabed for his daughter’s final interview. Fittingly, it’s Ingrid who closes the episode with a beautiful speech extolling Kim’s approach to love and life. For a story so ingrained with the infinity of despair that grief brings, it’s a quietly hopeful conclusion that champions the joy of her life rather than the sadness of her death. The Investigation has been something of a benchmark for how true-life crime adaptations should be; proof that by removing the perpetrator from the story and focusing on the human toll behind the case, it’s all the more compelling.

Andy D

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Investigation is available to watch in the UK on BBC iPlayer



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate Day says:

    A great review Andy. I agree this benchmarks anew approach to real life crime dramas.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. marijo1951 says:

    ”The Investigation has been something of a benchmark for how true-life crime adaptations should be; proof that by removing the perpetrator from the story and focusing on the human toll behind the case, it’s all the more compelling.” – Absolutely spot on!

    I must admit that I didn’t get this at first and assumed the first couple of episodes were building up to the big scene when the chief cop went into verbal thrust and parry with the perp. Despite being puzzled, I was gripped and ended up binge-watching most of the episodes. I almost forgot that in reality I knew the final outcome, as the actors were all so skilled at conveying the frustration and near despair of the characters as the various setbacks occurred.

    One small disappointment – I would have loved some brief details at the end about Maibritt Porse’s life and career since the case. She was such an admirable character, at first sight a bit mousy and clumsy, but so determined, intelligent and painstaking in her approach and ultimately pivotal to the outcome of the case. I liked her words to Jens before she went on to uncover the tiny detail that led to the conviction: “It’s a clumsy, disgusting crime, so we must have overlooked something.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Elaine says:

    I thought The Investigation was excellent, and the way it treated the family and police was exceptional. I have thoroughly enjoyed the recent ITV real life crime dramas, but this was different, and unashamedly so. Kudos to everyone and I admit I did have a few tears in my eyes at the end. Along with The Serpent and It’s a Sin, I have enjoyed three magnificent programmes within a few weeks of each other. Only thing I am disappointed in, is Andy not giving it 5 stars. Harsh, Andy, harsh.

    Liked by 1 person

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