This a spoiler-free review. Come back after the episode’s broadcast for additional, spoilery notes – or read our interview with the show’s writer here.
Although it was made in 2014, Blue Eyes, the latest Nordic noir to hit our screens, seems more prescient with each passing day. Dealing with a world of extremist violence and the divisions in society such violence can breed, the 10-part series mixes the world of domestic terrorism with contemporary politics, adds the mysterious disappearance of a government worker, and will appeal to fans of Borgen and the Killing alike.
As tensions run rife in Sweden, just eight weeks before an election, the right-wing Assurance Party is trying to make political gain from terrorist attacks. Racist rhetoric is rife, but while the leader of Assurance, Olle Nordlöf (Kjell Wilhelmsen), is trying to keep his own extreme views under wraps to appease more moderate voters, he nevertheless lets rip to his fellow party member. “Who comes here? Muslims, breeding like rabbits. We’ll soon be living in the united Arab Emirate of Sweden.” Similar polemic runs rife on mainstream radio stations – “A large proportion of Swedes not longer feel at home in their own country” – and points to a society that is segregated to the point of complete breakdown.
Putting a human face on all this bigotry is Assurance Party candidate Annika Nilsson (Anna Bjelkerud). Politically the polar opposite of everyone’s favourite Scandi-politician Birgitte Nyborg, she is, nonetheless, like Nyborg, attempting to balance the needs of her family – a daughter, Sofia (Karin Franz Körlof), fleeing from an abusive relationship, and a son, Simon (David Lindström), who disagrees with his mother’s stance yet bears the brunt of the fallout from it. While it is hard to sympathise with a woman who says things like “You can’t keep filling the lifeboat when it’s already full”, Annika’s domestic sphere is fraught, hindered further by the reaction to her politics: When the party take to the road on political rallies, they are met with anti-racist demos, with protesters throwing eggs and leaving dog excrement in her mailbox. A neo-Nazi cell, Veritas, meanwhile, are getting organised, and their own brand of brutal violence is escalating.
With all this as a backdrop, Elin Hammer (Louise Peterhoff, who regular Scandi drama viewers may recognise from the most recent series of The Bridge) is wooed back to her position as Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Justice by her old boss, Gunnar Elvestad (Sven Nordin). She is immediately charged with investigating the disappearance of her predecessor, Sarah, who has vanished without a trace, and is fast drawn into the intrigue.
This is tense, suspenseful, disturbing stuff, combining multiple whodunits with government conspiracies, brutal violence and political machinations. Blue Eyes is a terrific addition to the Scandi noir canon, and a jewel in the Walter Presents crown.
Blue Eyes is on More4 at 9pm every Friday, starting Friday 25th March. Episodes will be available to catch up with for free on All 4’s Walter Presents. For more on what else is new and coming soon to Channel 4’s foreign-language VOD service, click here.
All photos: ZDF Enterprises