Beck (S8 E3/4)

Martin Beck and his team do a Jack Bauer in this tense siege drama, acted out in real time. Will morning TV turn into a bloodbath, and if so, will it be good for the ratings?

Alex is appearing on a morning TV chat show together with a businessman, Tormalm (Dag Malmberg), whose charity enterprises, we are led to believe, conceal shady if not criminal business practices.

When a security guard, Peter (Joakim Natterqvist), pulls a gun and locks down the studio, Tormalm escapes. Peter gives the cops just 58 minutes to return him – but what’s his beef with Tormalm, and why the time limit? The clock ticks down, 24-style, though we’re not sure that anyone is particularly keeping track of whether the events unfold in real time or not.  

As their obnoxious boss Klas Fredén points out, this isn’t a case for the Beck Group, as there hasn’t been a homicide – but it looks like there might be, and Alex is involved, so Beck ignores his boss, and assigns the team to dig into the background of the hostage taker and Tormalm. (Martin and his team defy their boss so often that in reality they would all be on suspension for ever, and lose their pensions every week).

The on-site tactical officer seems quite happy to take guidance from old hound Martin, but tensions and temperatures in the studio rise and the softie presenters and crew start to lose their cool. Alex tries to keep everyone calm, but as the old ‘snipers in the air ducts’ plan unfolds, shots are fired and blood is spilled.

Josef goes rogue in an attempt to get Tormalm to return to the studio, against the wishes of his shrewish wife Helen (Ingela Lund, for some reason playing the part as English). Tormalm finally complies, though this touch of conscience doesn’t seem to mark any real change of heart.

Jenny and Oskar, meanwhile, unravel the hostage taker’s motivation – his diabetic daughter has been kidnapped to force him into his acts. But who’s behind it? Not a red herring political activist, it turns out, but a cleaner in the studio whose family were killed when one of Tormalm’s shoddy buildings collapsed. Alex tries to talk her down, but with studio security breached, the tactical squad arrives and the cleaner is tragically gunned down.

The ‘reluctant hostage taker’ plot seems a bit familiar – surely it’s the story of The Man Who Knew Too Much, or something with Nicolas Cage – but here it unfolds with some originality.

You would have thought, though, with all this tragedy and unnecessary suffering on show, there would be no time for comic relief – but no, we have to endure Oskar’s excruciating offer to lend Jenny and her girlfriend some of his sperm, and a bizarre closing anecdote from Martin’s neighbour Grannen. If looked at in the proper way, Grannen’s homily might sum up the moral of the tale – ‘a good man is one who shares his sausages with others’. But to be honest, we could have done without it, in what otherwise would have been a particularly gritty, moving and politically insightful offering from Beck.

Chris Jenkins

Rating: 3 out of 5.



Beck is shown on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer in the UK


5 Comments Add yours

  1. mnemosene says:

    Grannen isn’t a name; it simply means “the neighbour”. He’s anonymous.


    1. Charlotte Carling says:

      Not entierly anonymous, his name is actually Valdemar. It’s only been mentioned the once, though, when he introduced himself to a German detective in The Japanese Shunga Painting from 2007 (film 21 or S3E5).


  2. John Dutton says:

    Haven’t seen Beck walk one step yet in this series – is this for real or play-acting his recovery? I like the team member at base with the magic keyboard. Ask any question and within seconds and a few taps the answer comes through. Google it isn’t.
    Even so, I am enjoying the new series as it is concentrating a bit more on the rest of the team. My only real gripe is that I enjoyed Beck far more when the crimes were more normal/mundane/realistic/every-day events – and with less blatant social awareness messages. But that is how it is these days.


  3. Zeke says:

    I also enjoyed the Old Beck, way back with Gunvald. The new Team is like an entirely new show, not particularly connected.
    Yet while I am so very very glad that a whole portion of our populations are now being recognized.. Must every single show suddenly find a gay character, complete with plotline? Could it not be integrated more naturally?
    The way that Oscar and Jenny pair in investigations is more of the sort that previously Beck felt like. The Office wrangling, the bad guy Boss… are entirely changed. Good show, but not the Same Show!


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