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‘Deadwind’ Review: A Nordic Noir Series From Finland On Netflix

The Nordic noir Deadwind (Karppi) returns for a second season on Netflix. If you were a fan of The Killing (Forbrydelsen) or The Bridge (Broen), there is a good chance you’ll like this series from Finland. The first twelve episodes were a hit in its native land. The series was also nominated for the Best Nordic Screenplay at the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize at the Göteborg Film Festival in 2018.

The second season only has eight episodes, compared to the twelve in the first season, but is just as atmospheric and slow-burning with plenty of subplots to keep you guessing until the very end.

The first season of Deadwind introduced Helsinki police detective Sofia Karppi (played by Pihla Viitala), who, upon her first assignment months after losing her husband, must investigate the murder of Anna Bergdahl, whose body was found on a construction site. Grieving, Karppi buries herself into her work, almost to the neglect of her two children, her stepdaughter Henna and Emil. Clearly used to working out her investigations alone, she is at first pretty hostile towards her new partner, detective Sakari Nurmi (played by Lauri Tilkanen), freshly transferred to the homicide unit.

In this new second season, detectives Karppi and Nurmi are back working together on a sensitive case, after two bodies are found, and the police chief is killed, leaving a cryptic message for the detectives to decipher.

Created and directed by Rike Jokela, with a co-written script by Jokela, Jari Olavi Rantala, Kirsi Porkka, and Harri Virtanen (for episodes in the second season), Deadwind is a series that resembles many others of its genre. It seems even to make direct references to them. Viewers and fans of David Lynch’s cult series Twin Peaks may be reminded of Laura Palmer, when the body of Anna Bergdahl in discovered enveloped in a tarpaulin and holding calla lilies, by the way this scene was shot in the first season.

Much like its predecessors in the Nordic noir genre, Deadwind has as its central character a strong female lead. Sofia Karppi is visibly grieving for her dead husband, but she remains a tough and headstrong policewoman, slapping and fighting with suspects, and bossing her colleagues and even chief at times. She very much seems a cross between Lund, from The Killing, and Saga, from The Bridge, with her obsessiveness in the cases she investigates. She even wears big wooly jumpers like Lund famously does.

Like The Bridge, Deadwind also has a great duo of detectives in Karppi and Nurmi, which grows from animosity to friendship. There is enough chemistry between Viitala and Tilkanen to make their characters’ relationship interesting. In the second season, they become a real team, working together, even though Karppi still has the tendency to run after suspects on her own.

It may take some time to get into the first season as it is a very slow-paced thriller, with many subplots that stand as red-herrings at the end. However, the slow tempo enables the series to fully develop the two leading characters, and especially Karppi. The series takes time to show us, for example, her relationship with the children, moments when she is more tender and has less control.

Deadwind has an all-too familiar plot format, but it is a very well-written one, even though it does have some far-fetch, less credible, moments (I’m thinking specifically of when Nurmi knows conveniently how to dive and has no trouble finding the gear at the last minute in another country).

If you’re in the mood for a Nordic noir thriller, Deadwind is a great fit. And you’ll learn that “moi” (pronounced “moy”) means hi, and “moi, moi”, bye.

Deadwind is on Netflix since July 1.

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