Tag Archives: beck review

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

REVIEW Beck (S8 E2/4)

Now that Martin Beck has an allotment, can we expect him to come into the office offering his colleagues a look at his massive marrow, or the pick of his aubergines? Seemingly not – as his daughter says, you can take Martin out of the police, but you can’t take the police out of Martin.

He’s fascinated by two complex cases that turn out to be connected. A goldsmith has died of a heart attack while his workshop was being robbed, and the police have bungled the investigation. Josef foolishly gets involved in the case, as the victim’s daughter was an old flame, and soon he’s tracking down the burglar while getting into Cissi’s bed.

In another case, an antiques dealer is found dead in a forest – his partner suggests gangsters wanted to buy the business. But his story doesn’t quite add up.

As Martin doesn’t seem to do any gardening – his allotment seems to be used only for al fresco dining – he’s happy to get involved in the two cases, which turn out to be connected by the same hit-man, a failed share-dealer who is found dead at the scene of one of his hits. His victim, the goldsmith’s cleaner, seems to have been responsible for the burglary – so who paid to have her killed? Could it have been Cissi, or was it her unstable sister?

Josef should certainly have learned the lesson not to mix business with pleasure, particularly when he has previous chewed out Alex for doing the same thing, as she points out. But, having spectacularly messed up with Cissi, he has the consolation of Alex comforting him. (Hopeless Oskar seems to have given up on finding love, a relief to every woman living in Stockholm.).

When the hitman’s employer turns out to be Cissi’s sister, but she is also found dead, another suspect is identified by CCTV – the cleaner’s father. Since he’s been quoting Robert McCall from Equalizer 2 on the subject of revenge and murder, that one should have been easy to spot.

The climax comes in Cissi’s place of work, an adventure room, where she takes out her tormentor using night vision goggles, in a scene reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs. The antique dealer’s killing was paid for by his own partner – as shown by money transfers from his bank account. Aren’t hitmen always paid in cash, though?

Not as action-packed as last week’s episode, but satisfyingly twisty-turny, this episode maintains the standard, and gives us a bit more insight into why Josef is so shouty and furniture-smashy; he had an abusive childhood, and his older brother, who he visits in jail, killed their father. That would be enough to make anyone a bit twitchy.

As Martin’s eccentric neighbour Grannen sings in a final barbecue scene on the allotment (and since when does Grannen come out of his apartment? We don’t think we’ve ever seen him in the open air before), don’t try to swap pants with someone when you don’t have any pants to swap. A lesson that Josef could certainly do with learning.

Chris Jenkins

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Beck is shown on BBC Four in the UK

REVIEW Beck (S8 E4/4)

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. 

Chris Jenkins


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.




REVIEW Beck (S8 E3/4)

As Beck undergoes medical examination after collapsing, his team forges on without him – but dissension in the ranks and political interference threaten to derail the investigation of a murder. 

Last week, Martin Beck had a funny turn on his balcony, and we’re not talking about barmy neighbour Grannen. So what’s the matter, and how will his illness affect the performance of his team? 

Well, as to the performance, they hardly seem to notice his absence; in fact, even his icy daughter doesn’t get very emotional when Martin goes for an MRI scan and is diagnosed with a deep brain tumour.

The only one who gets a bit sobby is Martin himself, and that seems to be largely because he doesn’t want to be off work. It’s all kicking off in the office when a political activist, Hanoush, is stabbed to death outside a hotel. He was meeting with two colleagues, Sana, and Majid, a former colleague of Alex’s in Syria (and a bit more, we suspect). Alex, still covered in the dead man’s blood, brings in the suspects, and Josef takes an instant and irrational dislike to Majid – is it just because they both have a thing for Alex?

In fact, his suspicions are so strong that he has both Sana and Majid tailed, without informing Alex, who has a huge paddy when she finds out. 

This conflict between Josef and Alex is unconvincing – if they got along so badly, they wouldn’t be able to work on the same team. In fact, Josef’s digging does come up with a suspect, Navid, a diplomat from the Libyan embassy whose sharp suits and smooth personality mark him as a baddie from the word go. 

While Alex is clearly compromised by her previous relationship with Majid, who she later meets in his hotel, the evidence points towards the Syrians when Sana goes missing – but was she seen getting on a train, or was this a deception? In the end, as we suspected, the murder of Hanoush, and the subsequent killing of Sana, were both to cover up not a political conspiracy, but an affair between Amir Navid and the wife of a Swedish diplomat.

Though Navid is covered by diplomatic immunity, Josef is so incensed by the thought of him getting away with double murder that he ‘accidentally’ runs him over to prevent him fleeing the country, ensuring that his ruthless bosses deal with him in their own charming way. 

There’s a lot going on in this episode, what with Martin’s illness, some revelations from Alex’s past, a political element in the involvement of NGOs, foreign diplomats and Swedish intelligence service SAPO, topical parallels (such as the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul), and Josef’s continuing flouting of the rules. 

Josef and Oskar get to fight a Syrian heavy, slimy Klas Freden makes a bid for promotion, Grannen tells a seemingly irrelevant anecdote about ice hockey, and Martin comes up with a rather more pointed one about the futility of trying to evade death. 

And Martin’s operation?

Well, he tells everyone that it’s a complete success and that he’ll be at work soon – but he keeps secret the fact that they couldn’t get all of the tumour. We expect he’ll be back at work next week – and with no sign of an operation scar – but will he be back to normal?

In fact, can the series ever get back to normal, with the clear implication that Beck himself can’t last for ever? A sound episode with a satisfying conclusion, if some bumps along the way – but it brings home the message that in the end we can’t escape the inevitable. 

Chris Jenkins

Rating: 4 out of 5.



REVIEW Beck (S8 E2/4)

If you like your Scandis miserable, this is the episode for you – between infant mortality, mental illness, drug addiction and senile degeneration, it’s got the lot. 

In The Fall Guy, new man Josef, who only got his place on the team last week, is almost immediately suspended after a hostage situation goes wrong and suspect Hampus falls eight storeys out of a window.

It’s hard to say who handled the situation worse, hot-headed Josef who wouldn’t wait for backup, or bumbling Oskar who got grabbed by the nervous junkie. With a dead baby found in the suspect’s car, the case rapidly became complicated. The baby wasn’t the suspect’s girlfriend’s, and no babies had been reported missing – so where to start? 

Beck is wandering about, imagining he can hear a Schumann piano piece, but he reassures his daughter that he’s well and happy. Alex and Josef almost have A Thing, but wisely avoid it – that sort of complication is the last thing either of them need. Police chief Klas Fredén (Jonas Karlsson) is still trying to make trouble for Josef, suggesting to Oskar that he’s not the type of cop they want in Stockholm (well, any cop who was half competent and could follow orders would be welcome at this stage). 

But lurking in the background is a girl who has obviously recently given birth, but who is being held in an isolated house by a strange young man.

If she’s the baby’s mother, how did it end up dead in the boot of a stolen car? When her captor turns out to be the half-brother of dead junkie Hampus, and the girl stabs him and escapes into the arms of Alex and Oskar, we’re not entirely surprised by the twist – her ‘captor’ is in fact her husband, a doctor who has been caring for her because she has fallen victim to paranoid schizophrenia, and has forgotten that she killed her baby.

Hampus had been roped in to dispose of the body, but in the words of the old song, ‘then he got high’. Oskar redeems himself by saving Alex from the paranoid girl, and by pulling Josef’s meatballs out of the frying pan at the disciplinary hearing – so everyone’s happy and heads down the pub, except for the perennially absent Martin. 

Whether he has anything to be happy about or not – he puts his good mood down to cycling, or has he met someone on Tinder?  – the phantom piano music continues to haunt Beck.

Is it in fact coming from barmy neighbour Grannen’s flat, or is it, as Grannen suggests merrily, a syphilis-induced hallucination? Whatever the cause, Martin’s clearly not a well man, and the episode ends with him collapsing on his balcony. With only Grannen to help him, we don’t hold out much hope. See what we mean about it being a grim episode?

We know that these Scandi dramas are notoriously depressing, but when the funniest thing that happens in an episode is a joke about syphilis, you know you’ve reached new depths. Next week, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate is murdered – maybe some laughs there? No, maybe not…    

Chris Jenkins

Rating: 3 out of 5.


REVIEW Beck (S8 E1/4)

It’s been so long since we saw Beck (three years, in fact), that we were beginning to think that the Swedish cop’s semi-retirement had turned into a permanent situation.

But here he is back again, for four feature-length dramas, and nothing much has changed. 

Certainly we’re getting used to seeing a lot less of Beck himself, who now looms around the office acting in an advisory capacity (actor Peter Haber is now 68, so it would be surprising if the character was still chasing baddies around Stockholm).

In fact it’s become more of an ensemble piece, headed by efficient Alexandra (Jennie Silfverhjelm) and Norwegian giant Steinar (Kristofer Hivju from Game of Thrones), supported by meek Oskar (Mans Nathanaelson), who is largely there for comic relief. 

Not that there’s much comedy in this opening episode, which is very much a police procedural rather than a detective mystery. 

True, there are several suspects in the killing of a young drug-dealer – his sleazy gang and crimelord uncle, a cocaine-using businesswoman and her volatile boyfriend, and Josef (Martin Wallstrom from Mr Robot), a possibly dodgy undercover cop whose operation the team accidentally exposes. But we’re spared the prospect of the elderly Beck going undercover and trying to act like one of the hip kids – in fact, gloomy Martin makes much of the fact that he doesn’t understand anything to do with modern technology like Tinder – or is he being disingenuous when he ‘accidentally’ sets up his daughter on a date with Steinar? 

That’s just about Beck’s only involvement in the episode, which seems to be wrapped up when the crimelord insists that Josef execute his suspect, and the SWAT team bursts in to round everybody up. But there’s a coda, when it turns out that one of Josef’s colleagues is the bent one, he kills another cop who suspects him, and takes Josef hostage.

Steinar gets shot in the climax, thankfully not fatally, but it seems that the character will now be written out, replaced by Josef. Josef’s boss in Malmö is a massive ass who puts his feet up on his desk and treats Beck and his team like naughty schoolchildren, so we won’t miss him, but we’ll miss gloomy Steinar immensely.

At least we can rely on Beck’s eccentric neighbour Grannen (Lars Ingvar) who puts in his traditional appearance with a homely conclusion.

Mind you, Ingvar is now 86, so his continued presence can’t be assured.

Indeed the episode is dedicated to Maj Sjöwall, one of the authors of the original Beck books who died in 2020, and her writing partner Per Wahlöö, who died in 1975. 

Beck has become a bit like a violent, sweary Swedish version of Midsomer Murders, cosy and reliable rather than stark and edgy, but for all that it’s entertaining enough viewing. We can’t wait to see the results of Martin’s adventures on Tinder – no doubt they’ll be excruciatingly embarrassing.   

Chris Jenkins

Rating: 3 out of 5.


REVIEW: Beck (S7 E4/4)

Could this be the last roll of the dice for Beck? With Alex firmly in charge of the team, and Steinar doing most of the footwork, what is left for the old warhorse to contribute? Both in terms of fictional drama and TV reality, this series finale could mark an end to Beck’s run.

Most of the drama in this brief season has been not so much about solving cases, more resolving tensions within the team. Bringing Beck back from retirement demanded strong storylines, which frankly have not been delivered; the titular character has taken a restricted role, while new team boss Alex, and Steinar, who on some level feels he should have got the job, lock horns – both in terms of work roles, and because of underlying sexual tension. It doesn’t help that Steinar’s wife may have been playing away, and other relationships in the group, such as that of Oskar and Anna, have been rocky.

So there are tensions to be resolved in this finale, but most importantly, the character of Beck has to be re-established if there’s to be any point continuing the series; his main contribution so far has been to look grumpy, do paperwork and eat cake. Probably like a lot of real detectives, then.

This week’s action begins with the shooting of a restaurant owner after an argument with a bearded visitor – is it a gangland hit, was there a protection racket going? There are many witnesses, but all are too frightened to talk to the police, and one, an artist, goes missing.

The killer, a Dane named William Jensen, is clearly not the sharpest knife in the block – his boss Mogens tells him he’s no Sherlock Holmes – but he has a plan to recruit a scumbag lawyer, who has defended another gangster, Simon, to help him. Lawyer Paul is daft enough to run up gambling debts of 400,000 SEK (about £34,000) in William’s club, so he doesn’t have much choice but to comply.

Paul, it turns out, is the brother of Alex, with whom he has a fractured relationship, and he plans to sell their dead mother’s house to get the money; but William pressures him for inside information on Alex’s investigation instead.

Steinar is in a bleak mood, as his flirty wife Heidi has moved out of the family home, and he leans on the witnesses without results; he’s also tempted by an offer from slimy Klas to take a job with NOD (the National Operations Department, in other words the Feds).

Oskar, Jenny and Ayda find their loyalties torn between Steinar and Alex, and Oskar’s kak-handed attempts to bond with Stienar don’t help. Surely it’s time for Beck to read the riot act? His mild pep-talk hardly seems to address the problems.

Steinar figures out that one of the witnesses, Ulf, has a criminal record, and brings him back to sweat him; but doesn’t share the info with Alex. ‘There’s a fine line between a charmingly unconventional cop and a bad one’, she responds, and we can see her point.

It’s at this stage that Beck has one of his pointless encounters with annoying neighbour Grannen, who has imprisoned a burglar in his lock-up; Martin has to call the police himself to sort things out.

William kills his jumpy sidekick Simon, and goes in search of the missing witness to the restaurant shooting, with the help of the unwilling Paul; and when Alex’s family connection to Paul is revealed, Beck takes her off the case.

But Paul cracks, and confesses what he knows to Alex, who races to the rescue with Steinar; but too late to save witness Mia from being killed. Paul makes a stand, and gets shot in the leg, while Alex and Steinar together arrest William.

All concludes with a big hug, a rare smile from Beck, and Steinar feeling that he’s been accepted back into the fold, certainly enough that he can tell Klas where to stick his job offer.

While the detective work in this episode at least followed a plausible course, no-one seems too worried about the fact that the team lost two witnesses, almost compromised the case, and had a relative closely involved with a triple murderer. If we were the Swedish equivalent of Internal Affairs, we’d have the whole lot of them, from Beck down to the office cleaner, on suspension sooner than you can say ‘pancakes’.

So where does this leave Martin Beck? Almost superfluous to the entire series, he’s brought nothing to the investigations, and little to the team interactions; even when it was obvious that he needed to weigh in and sort things out, he’s been sidelined, the writers concentrating entirely on the triangular relationship between Steinar, Heidi, and Alex.

It’s all a bit baffling, and makes you wonder whether there’s a reason that actor Peter Haber was backgrounded for this series. Certainly there’s a feeling that if the character of Beck was retired, the series could continue without him; though if Steinar’s going to be in charge, please let’s have him more settled in the job, and less concerned about family matters.

As a final point, why has the BBC translated of the title of this episode, Djävulens Advokat, as The Devil’s Attorney, when the more familiar phrase The Devil’s Advocate would have made more sense? It’s as if someone didn’t know the phrase in the first place. It’s a total röra till, as the Swedes would say.

Chris Jenkins




REVIEW: Beck (S7 E3/4)

After last week’s underwhelming episode, in which Beck’s detective work was sidelined by various romantic relationships, will the old warhorse get the bit between his teeth now?

When a young girl finds her mother Manuela dead at the foot of the stairs, the obvious question is, did she fall, or was she pushed? Her history with an abusive ex-husband, Fredrik, suggests the latter.

He claims his violent past is behind him, and other evidence implicates her boss Bernt, his snooty wife, two online dates, a drunken new boyfriend, Ove, or a fixated friend, Rana.

Steiner is peeved at not getting the job of team leader, even more peeved at losing it to his crush Alexandra, and having trouble with his flirty wife, with whom he has a big bust-up. Beck, at this stage, is doing nothing but sitting morosely in interrogations,and noting just how badly things are going. Tensions build in Beck’s team, but Alex talks him out of intervening.

Evidence emerges of Manuela’s unstable and manipulative behaviour, but the investigation is still being pulled in two ways, Alex concentrating on the evidence of male abuse. Inevitably the two clash when Steinar questions Manuela’s daughter Maria without approval, but he does get a lead on a potentially threatening female acquaintance, Bernt’s wife Gunilla.

Attempts to break down various alibis go nowhere until Ove’s elderly mother cracks, and he admits pushing Manuela down the stairs in a drunken argument over some faked raunchy photos. but who sent them to him? Meanwhile Fredrik’s disenchanted girlfriend Katerina finds evidence on his hard drive of a campaign of online manipulation and harassment against Manuela.

Fredrik goes on the run with Maria and a shotgun, but she gets a message out and a chase ensues. In a tense confrontation, Maria is saved and Alex gets the cuffs on Fredrik.

So in the end it turns out that both Steinar and Alex were right about their suspects, and at least this gives Steinar some comfort, though his wife is still getting texts from her old flame.

Beck’s only real contribution to the action is to look peeved, and to listen to his barmy neighbour Grannen lecturing him about drinking.

So while this episode at least concentrated more on the case, serving up plenty of suspects and red herrings, and had a satisfactorily rounded examination of the relationship between Steinar and Alex, it does leave you wondering why the hell it’s still called Beck?

He contributes about as much as Taggart did after the title character died, so isn’t it about time the series was renamed Steinar? Certainly, if old Martin doesn’t pull something out of the bag in next weeks, he might as well go back into retirement, move in with Grannen and spend his twilight years sitting on the balcony drinking himself into a stupor.

Chris Jenkins




REVIEW: Beck (S7 E2/4)

Behind the scenes at a boys’ ice hockey club, tensions are festering; a parent argues with the coach, and resentment against refugee pupils grows. But when popular coach Simon Lindstrom is found stabbed to death, there’s no initial indication of whodunnit, or why.

The first of Beck’s cases with him in the role of superintendent is an odd one; for a start, he has practically nothing to do with the investigation. Except for being dragged into one round of questioning, he does very little except worry about his dropout grandson, try to sort out his access card for the office, natter with his crazy neighbour Grannen, and try to work out who is going to take the job of team leader – fill-in Steinar, or who?

In fact, the majority of the story seems to be tied up with examining romantic relationships. Steinar is having a troubled relationship with his wife, who is obviously being tempted to stray with an old flame; Oscar has an ill-advised flirtation with colleague Jenny, who finally explains that she’s gay – what a great detective he must be, that he didn’t work that out.

Pupil Axel is having trouble with his young girlfriend Ella; he wants to get married, she wants to set fire to refugee hostels. Axel’s Dad is a paedo, cruising for young men when he’s supposed to be out jogging; and Beck’s grandson Martin plans to move in with his girlfriend, only to find himself dumped for another man.

Steinar flirts with every woman he gets near, including the chairwoman of the hockey club (who we initially suspected, but that would have been too simple), and with colleague Alex, who he met last week in Jordan; only the team’s resident Vulcan, Ayda, seems to have no romantic backstory.

The actual investigation goes the normal round of checking mobile phone records, CCTV and credit card transactions, until the parts of the jigsaw fall into place; pupil Alex had found pictures of his underage girlfriend Elle on Simon’s phone, and killed him out of jealousy; but the complication was that Simon’s phone had been stolen by refugee Majid, who was being blackmailed into prostitution.

In the end, the case is cracked by Steinar’s semi-legal search of a burned-out refugee hostel; but Beck, while recognising his great police work, realises that he wouldn’t make a good team leader. Steinar might have accepted this – he wasn’t originally keen on the idea – but how will he take the news that the new team leader is Alex?

The plot touches on the subject of racial intolerance without examining it in any great detail, and dances in the same way around questions of sexual exploitation. But it doesn’t add anything to the character of Beck, who might as well have stayed at home with his feet up.

Next week, there’ll be a new dynamic, with Alex as team leader, and hairy giant Steinar presumably torn over whether to flirt with her, or sulk in a corner. Either way, the atmosphere’s going to be tense, and Beck might actually have to raise his voice, or even do some detective work.

Chris Jenkins 


REVIEW: Beck (S7 E1/4)

We kinda thought we’d seen the last of Martin Beck (Peter Haber) two years ago – and with the tragic loss of his steely blue-eyed sex-bomb colleague Gunvald Larsson (Mikael Persbrandt), the steam seemed to have gone out of the long-running Swedish police procedural.

But, dependable as Ikea meatballs, Beck is back (this season was shown at the start of the year in Sweden), lured out of retirement by an old oppo from the intelligence services. Time hasn’t been kind to him – any remainder of Peter Haber’s sexual charisma has now deserted him, and these days he looks like an unenthusiastic entrant in a Kelsey Grammar lookalike contest.

Uncharacteristically, the episode opens with the fatal beating of a young man in Jordan.

Beck, meanwhile, is reconciled with his daughter Inger (Rebecka Hemse), but missing his dead son Micke, from whom he was estranged; his regret over this relationship is clearly his motivation for accepting a plea from Tina Sellstedt (Charlotta Jonsson) of security  service SÄPO to look into the case of a youth, Nabil Ashrawi, who he met on a previous case, and who she thinks may have been radicalised.

In fact, we think Nabil’s engineer brother Kasim has been recruited for an act of terrorism, so can Beck catch him before it’s too late?

Meanwhile a young girl, Josefin Lindblad, has gone missing after work, and frost giant Steinar Hovland (Kristofer Hivju) is in charge of the case. Command sits uneasily with Steinar, but he goes to question Josefin’s sleazy boss.

The soundtrack features a ticking clock motif which reminds us of Kasim’s mission – are the two connected? Has Josefine somehow found out something about Kasim, and been silenced? His name’s on her phone records, and Kasim’s certainly up to something bomb-y, in between getting hassled by racist cops.

There’s more ominous ticking as Beck sits watching a TV talk show about disaffected youth, but when he goes into the office, where he gets a warm welcome from former colleagues, he doesn’t realise that they’re talking about Kasim.

Kasim admits to nothing under questioning, and Beck gets nothing from the parents, but Josefine’s boss now admits to driving her to Kasim’s student residence – so did Kasim do away with her when she found out about his plans? That seems to be the case, when Steinar finds her strangled in Kasim’s room.

Beck and Steinar finally twig that their cases are connected, and Beck gets Kasim’s parents to admit that he is trying to persuade Nabil to come home from Jordan; but they wrongly think Kasim is there too.

Implausibly, Steinar flies all the way to Jordan, establishing what we have alread guessed – that honest Kasim was beaten to death, and Nabil the terrorist has taken his place and returned to complete his terrorist mission – that’s why he had to kill Josefin, to stop her from revealing the swap.

Well, the trip to Jordan gets Steinar out of the office, and throws him together with a sexy diplomatic attache.

Beck, meanwhile, is playing chess with his cantankerous neighbour Grannen (Ingvar Hirdwall), who we somehow thought had died; perhaps it was wishful thinking. He’s still in his neck brace though, and spinning yarns about his international sex adventures, possibly true, but amazingly irrelevant to the plot.

Astonishingly, Steinar resists the offer to bang the Swedish attache, and flies back to face the situation, that Nabil the terrorist is in Stockholm, and has a target (which we imagine is a world music convention we heard mentioned on the radio).

Nabil’s getting all bombed-up in his parents’ basement when his mother finds him, and gets clobbered; he sends a diversionary text suggesting that his target is a hockey match. Unconvinced, Steiner has it staked out; but Nabil’s mum recovers in time to inform them of the real target.

Nabil’s got into the concert, which apparently has no security checks whatsoever, but his mother catches up with him; obviously he’s not the brother with the engineering talent, because he hasn’t equipped himself with a dead man’s switch. With his mother’s help, he’s taken in alive.

So, happy ending? Well, Beck gets a bottle of his favourite Calvados, and gets offered the job of his former boss Mats; they need his mind, not his footwork, he’s told. He goes away to think about it, but we know what he’ll say…

Concluding with another encounter with Grannen, this episode hardly illuminates new aspects of Beck’s character, or new dimensions to the plot; in fact it wastes a good half an hour establishing the obvious identity swap plot.

Nonetheless, it was good to see Beck back in action – he’d even had a shave by the end of the episode, which was welcome – and it will be interesting to see what he can achieve as boss, now that his team is apparently working more cohesively and without the interference of pen-pushers.  Now if only Beck could get his love-life together with equal effect…

Chris Jenkins