As evenings grow longer and cooler, one can cozy up with Stockholm’s finest — Martin Beck, Gunvald Larsson, and Oskar Bergman — who return to telly in five new episodes.
This past Saturday, BBC Four premiered the first of five (mostly) new Beck episodes based on the characters in the Nordic noir crime novels penned by the wife-and-husband writing team of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. [Interestingly, the channel opted out of the 25th episode (Season 4’s first), Beck: The Eye of the Storm (I stormens öga), unless it was shown in the past and I somehow missed it.]
As an unabashed fan of Beck, I can’t tell you how good it was to see Peter Haber (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, A Second Chance, Enemy’s Enemy), Mikael Persbrandt (The Hobbit films, Jadotville, Medicine Man), and Måns Nathanaelson (Real Humans, Verdict Revised, Crimes of Passion) reprise their respective roles as the methodical, good-cop lead detective Martin Beck, his not-by-the-book, bad-cop sidekick Gunvald Larsson, and the less-muscular-and-violence-prone, but still-wanna-be-like-Gunvald junior detective Oskar Bergman.
But with the good news comes the bad, as these mark the final episodes to feature Mikael Persbrant. (Sob!)
In this second of the two Season 4 episodes from 2009, District Attorney Annika Runfelt (Jessica Zandén, Johan Falk) is attacked, and her dead body is found inside a sealed wood box buried in the sandbox at a children’s playground. She had received numerous threats from a notorious motorcycle gang that she’d been trying to put behind bars, which leads to gang leader Matte Larsson (Peter Järn, Wallander) being the prime suspect. Unfortunately for him, his lifeless body is also discovered in a handcrafted coffin.
Then someone literally stumbles upon a third corpse, and Martin, Gunvald, and Oskar, along with Lena Klingström (Stina Rautelin, Rederiet), realize they have a serial killer on their hands. What’s worse: there are more people on the killer’s hit list and Martin is one of them.
This episode marks the final appearances of Stina Rautelin as tech wiz Lena Klingström, Peter Hüttner (Pariserhjulet) as pathologist Oljelund, Bo Höglund (Enemy’s Enemy) as Mats, the waiter at Beck’s regular restaurant, and Bengt Magnusson (Maria Wern) as the “Crime Watch” news anchor in the series.
However, Beck wouldn’t be Beck without the detective’s daughter Inger (Rebecka Hemse, 30 Degrees in February) and his orange-haired, neck-brace-wearing, aren’t-you-going-to-invite-me-in-for-a-drink neighbor, Valdemar (Ingvar Hirdwall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and both feature in all five of the new episodes.
If you missed Beck: Buried Alive, you have 28 days to watch it (in Swedish with English subtitles) on BBC’s iPlayer.
Beck: Room 302 (Rum 302)
In this first episode of the new Season 5, Beck and co. investigate the murder of a young woman, whose strangled body is discovered in Room 302 of the Hotel Stureplan. It appears that she had been partying with two young men in the tony Stereplan area in the center of Stockholm, and might have been a victim of rape, as well. The thing is, the credit card used to pay for the room belongs to a mugging victim whose alibi doesn’t sync with the evidence.
Leads in the investigation take Martin, Gunvald, et al in several directions, including to the Stockholm suburb of Alby, where riots and car burnings follow the finding of a stolen luxury car. Beck’s new boss, Police Chief Klas Fredén (Jonas Karlsson, Stockholm Stories, The Inspector and the Sea), wants results yesterday, while Inger is dating a cop, yet another new situation that Martin has to get used to.
Starting with Beck: Room 302, Elmira Arikan (Agent Hamilton: But Not If It Concerns Your Daughter), Anna Asp (Frostbitten), Åsa Karlin (Double Life), Anu Sinisalo (The Sandhamn Murders), and Sofia Zouagui (Camilla Läckberg’s The Fjällbacka Murders) join the cast in recurring roles.
Beck: Room 302 premieres this Saturday, 19 September 2015, at 9 PM BST, on BBC Four.
The dates for the following episodes haven’t been announced yet, but they will likely debut at the same time on the 26th of September and the 3rd and 10th of October, respectively.
Beck: The Family (Familjen)
The next case for Beck centers on the murder of Zlatko Lozanovic, a notorious crime boss who is killed in front of his family by a sniper’s bullet through the window of his home. The person who ordered (and/or carried out) the hit could have been any one of the victim’s enemies, who turn out to be most of Stockholm’s underworld crime figures. Matters get complicated when a woman, a mother of two with links to the mobster’s murder, is herself killed in a suburban car park.
As the investigation progresses, Gunvald grows close to Zlatko’s grieving widow Charlotta (Marie Robertson, Real Humans), while Rimfors (Johannes Brost, Jordskott) from the narcotics division lends Beck’s team a helping hand. It’s a race against the clock for them to find the killer, as Zlatko’s flunkies are also on the hunt for the perpetrator.
Beck: The Invasion (Invasionen)
With the discovery of a man’s body found buried outside of Stockholm, Beck’s team sets out to learn the victim’s identity. New evidence about him surfaces after another man is murdered, leading the team to suspect conflicts within an Islamist terrorist cell. Given this connection, Martin, Gunvald, Oskar, and the rest of the team are forced to cooperate with the Swedish Security Service.
As Beck et al delve further into the murders, they find possible links to a company that provides illegal workers to construction companies in Stockholm. The case evokes strong feelings for Martin, whose work with the Swedish Security Service is anything but simple.
The Hospital Murders (Sjukhusmorden)
In this final Season 5 episode, an elderly woman dies in hospital in Stockholm. According to her doctor, Johan Fors (Johan Holmberg, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest), she had an incurable disease. To the dead woman’s son, Petter Lindvall (Mårten Svedberg, Johan Falk), though, it seems that she’s been murdered. He doesn’t believe Fors and reports the doctor and the hospital to the police for causing his mum’s death.
Then Fors plunges to his death from the hospital roof. As Beck and his team investigate this incident, they discover that there are a number of mysterious circumstances involved. To complicate the case even further, it also appears that the hospital staff and Fors’ family, including his widow Eva (Gunilla Backman, The Sandhamn Murders), are hiding things from the detectives.
All of the above feature-length episodes of Beck are shown in Swedish with English subtitles, and available on iPlayer shortly after BBC Four’s broadcasts.
Stateside viewers should look for these episodes on MHz Choice after the new SVoD service relaunches in the coming weeks.
Then in January and March 2016 (schedule subject to change), four more new Beck episodes will arrive in the Nordic countries, and as noted earlier, they will not feature Mikael Persbrandt but Norwegian Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones) as Martin’s new sidekick, Detective Steinar Hovland.