With Beck facing up to his mortality, and questions being raised about his conduct of an old case, will this be the last we see of Stockholm’s gloomiest detective?
As this brief season comes to an end, we’re given even more direct suggestions that Martin Beck might not be long for this world – in fact his whole team seems more fractured than ever, with internal dissension and rivalries not helped by Martin’s enforced absence after his brain surgery. Ironically, we do see a bit more of Beck than we have in previous episodes this season, as the discovery of human remains forces him to re-examine one of his greatest failures.
Five years ago, we see a troubled young man being battered to death outside a lakeside cottage; we assume from the start that it’s a family affair, but we don’t realise how literally. In the present day, the victim’s jawbone is found in a forest, and Alex presciently figures out that the rest of the remains must be in a nearby lake. Fortunately, they’re found in minutes of searching, which was a bit of luck.
The victim, Viktor, had a chaotic drug-fuelled lifestyle and had been reported missing by his family – but they’re a rum lot, a boozy mother who implausibly teaches self-awareness, a nervy daughter and a twitchy brother. Thrown into the mix are a couple of Viktor’s mates, a drug-dealing bar-owner who claims to have cleaned up his act, and a wheeler-dealer up to his neck in debt, stolen goods and illegal substances.
The question is, why Beck didn’t make any progress with the case five years ago – heavily bandaged, he claims that with no body, no weapon and no motive, he had nothing to go on, but Alex finally wheedles out of him the story of his ill-judged attempt to suborn a witness, and Klas Freden having to cover up for him. Now, Freden would be happy to throw Beck to the wolves and give Alex his job, but she’s too loyal to put up with that. Having said that, she is considering taking another position, maybe in Luxembourg, and at four times the salary – well, what’s stopping you, girl?
As usual it’s Josef who actually cracks the case, pressuring contacts from his days on the drugs squad until one reveals the possible location of the murder. Josef gets a smack on the head when he investigates, but gathers enough evidence to convict Viktor’s brother, and to catch the mother about to shoot one of the suspects.
There are tearful confessions involving child molesting, filial jealousy and financial arguments, but Beck is off the hook, because Freden had been trying to protect the mother in the original investigation – something that will now stain his reputation.
There are some telling little moments in this fast-moving case, such as Freden sitting in his office filing his nails; lonely Oskar admitting that’s he’d blabbed details of the case to a lady journalist in a bar; Josef laughing off being under investigation – again! – and the stressed Alex struggling with her own inner demons of self-doubt and almost knocking Josef’s head off when he surprises her in the bijou office kitchenette.
But what of Martin Beck himself?
He’s been given six months to live, or only a 20 per cent chance of surviving a second brain operation. Barmy neighbour Grannen gives a (probably spurious) explanation of why he wears a neck brace, and takes it off to show that any chance of living is a good chance; but as Beck is wheeled into surgery and his icy daughter finally gives vent to some emotion, the prospects don’t look good.
About the only lights on the horizon are that Steinar looks like he may return from Oslo, and Beck’s grandson says that he wants to join the Police Academy.
Maybe this is the last we’ll see of Beck himself – as we’ve noted before, actor Peter Haber is now 68 – and perhaps the next series will concentrate on Alex, Steinar, and perhaps even the younger Beck.
If that’s the case, we’ll miss the old curmudgeon, but this will have been a satisfyingly dark and complex note to go out on.
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE TWO REVIEW
READ MORE: OUR EPISODE THREE REVIEW