First look Walter Presents TV review: Stockholm Requiem
James R | On 26, Jan 2020
“Your new colleague graduated in criminology and law and is probably twice as well read as any of you.” That’s how Fredrika Bergman (Liv Mjönes) is introduced to the Stockholm police department in Stockholm Requiem – and it’s an introduction that highlights just how out-of-place this new recruit is.
Fredrika, we learn through that exposition-heavy intro from Alex Recht (Jonas Karlsson), is being brought into the department as part of a push towards transparency – a civilian addition to the unit, but one who’s got experience as a criminologist. Oh, and she used to be a classic musician. Because why not? Needless to say, nobody else in the department is particularly pleased to see her, and much of Stockholm Requiem’s initial drama stems from her being shunned by her unwilling colleagues.
Also needless to say, Fredrika more than proves her worth, with an intelligence, wit and knack for logical deduction that makes her a useful asset on the team – by the time the end credits roll on Episode 1, she’s being picked over other officers to help conduct interviews.
Naturally, the work they’re doing is of a particularly dark persuasion, with a girl abducted from Stockholm’s Central Station on the same day that Fredrika starts her new appointment – the opening sequence sees the young girl swiped from the station, paving the way for a mystery that’s more complex than it initially appears, even with the evidence pointing at her dubious father.
If all of this sounds by-the-numbers, you wouldn’t be far wrong, but Stockholm Requiem’s strength lies in the way it puts those numbers on the page. Adapted from Kristina Ohlsson’s Bergman & Recht novels, the usual components are present and correct, including the hardened Peter (Alexej Manvelov). But the formulae is something entirely different: even in the opening hour, the action starts to be intertwined with flash-forwards to Fredrika and Alex in a car. The date? May 2020. Driving? Alex, who is now a cabbie rather than a policeman.
The result is a nifty device that slowly drip-feeds details of what’s happened between the 2018-set action and this conversation two years later. Guilt, revenge, loss, and other heavy topics are teased, giving Liv Mjönes more to work with than the cliched tough-as-nails female detective in a male-dominated environment, although she’s very good at that anyway. Jonas Karlsson, too, impresses as the jaded former man of the law who has seen something happen to make him quit his career.
If the other cast members don’t necessarily stand out, there’s more than enough to intrigue here, as Stockholm Requiem places less weight on the first word of its title – the Swedish capital is, as traditions dictate, captured with a slick, dark, gritty tone – and more emphasis on the second. That format, and the ethical mysteries it opens up, makes this smartly written crime drama stand out from the Scandi noir pack. What begins as a conventional story of a fish out of water emerges as a probing study of what can make a civilian so driven to solve crime and a policeman so driven to leave crime-solving behind.
Stockholm Requiem is available on Walter Presents on All 4.