Warning: If you haven’t watched the previous episodes of Fortitude, this will contain spoilers.
After Episode 9’s stomach-churning decision to shoot Stanley Tucci’s DCI Morton and leave him bleeding out for an hour, Fortitude continues its impressive juggling of pace and suspense – and, of course, makes your tummy do several more somersaults.
Last week, time slowed down to spend the day with Henry and Morton, as they chilled in the icy wilderness, one dying slowly, the other revealing that Sheriff Dan was his son – before shooting himself. Eugene spent most of the hour insisting he would make it, but the morphined-up Morton we now see is clearly resigned to checking out. It’s a shame, as Tucci’s abrupt honesty and polite smiles have been a key part of Fortitude’s balance of Broadchurch and The X-Files; his forensic deconstruction of the supernatural deaths grounded the weirdness in familiar, gripping territory.
But before Stanley says goodbye, his determination to uncover the truth gives us some welcome answers about Pettigrew. If Episode 9 impressed with its gentle speed, here Fortitude goes one step further, with the show’s longest flashback yet. Transporting us to before the events of Episode 1, the interlude feels like it takes up half the episode, although that’s partly due to the distressing nature of what we find out. Part The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and part Bad Lieutenant, the mystery of Pettigrew’s murder-by-handcuffs becomes both horrific and almost justified.
Back in the present day, the increasingly weary Dan (Richard Dormer) and good old Deputy Eric are concerned with the theft of a drill, as Yuri and Max (remember them?) try to get at the ivory deposits underneath the town.
It’s the kind of vaguely pointless plot development that Morton would have sorted out in seconds, giving us more time to investigate the killings that have happened over the past nine weeks – both their victims and their culprits. Here, though, Luke Treadaway’s noble (and naive) Vincent steps into the breach, with more scientific answers to the spooky goings-on. The transition from one protagonist to the other has been carefully executed across the past few chapters; one brief shot of a photograph shows just how economical Fortitude’s writers (and directors) are when it comes to exposition.
It’s a shift that’s also necessary, as the human drama (Affairs! Corruption! Hotels!) becomes mostly wrapped up, leaving us with the question of why these people have been turning into monsters in the first place. From the previous gruesome displays, we can already tell there’s some kind of egg-thing planted in the bodies. We’ve also seen that the murderers aren’t conscious when they carry out the attacks, but what about after? Are they haunted by guilt? We get our first hints in this penultimate episode of voices in people’s heads, not to mention bumps on their skin. Which all seems to tie into the nasty acts of physical intrusion from the past. “How do you feel?” one person asks, following a particularly brutal incident. “Complete,” comes the chilling reply.
As the programme slides gently back into body horror for the finale, the skin-crawling question you’ve been trying to ignore since Shirley’s fork attack re-surfaces: If something is put inside these people, what happens when it comes out? Next week’s conclusion promises to have audiences buzzing with excitement and fear.
You can watch Fortitude online in the UK without Sky on NOW TV for £6.99 a month. The monthly subscription gives you live and on-demand access to Sky pay TV channels, including Sky Atlantic (Mad Men and Togetherness), Sky 1 (Arrow and The Flash) and FOX TV (The Walking Dead) – with no contract.
Sky customers can watch Fortitude online live through Sky Go, or catch up on Sky On Demand.
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