Three months after the second season of the hit Swedish drama, 30 Degrees in February, bowed on SVT in Sweden, it has premiered in the US for your binge-watching pleasure.
When you put away the murders, criminals, and detectives and amateurs sleuths of Scandinavian noir mysteries and crime dramas, what remains are stories about everyday people. Stories that are less dark but equally as compelling (and in some cases more so).
Such is the case of 30 Degrees in February (30 grader i februari), the 2012 Kristallen award winner for Best TV Drama.
In the first season we meet the Swedes who leave the cold and snow of Sweden behind and travel to Thailand in search of something unattainable for them in their homeland.
For workaholic architect and stroke victim Kaysa (Maria Lundqvist, Everlasting Moments) and her two daughters, Joy (Hanna Ardéhn, Double Life) and Wilda (Viola Weidemann), it’s a new life in a place where they had experienced bliss while on holiday: Happiness Island. For unlucky-in-love engineer Glenn (Kjell Wilhelmsen, Blue Eyes), it’s the prospect of meeting and marrying the woman who will give birth to their children and having a family of his own. And for Majlis (Lotta Tejle, The Sandhamn Murders), the long-suffering, middle-aged wife of an abusive, wheelchair-bound husband, it’s the chance to experience freedom, adventure, and even dignity.
Season 2 of 30 Degrees in February, which had its world premiere during the inaugural TV Drama program at the 2016 Göteborg Film Festival, picks up four years after the earth-shattering events of the first season, when the tsunami nearly claimed all of their lives.
Old habits die hard, and Kajsa is still focused on her work, leaving Joy, nearing her 18th birthday, to care for herself and 10-year-old Wilda. But in a tender moment shared with Wilda, Kaysa reveals her surprise: she’s built three homes on a beautiful, secluded island — one each for her two daughters and their father, Anders (Björn Kjellman, Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter). It’s her parting gift to them, as she knows her time is running short. She’s had two strokes already, and the third will likely kill her.
Glenn and Oh (Djuangjai Hirunsri, The Last Executioner) have settled into a comfortable life together with her relatives. Despite his insistence that he’s happy with how things are, she knows that he desperately wants to be a father. But Oh can never get pregnant, so she suggests adoption to give him the child that she can’t birth.
And Majlis is living under the radar of the authorities, who had been out to arrest her for the death of her husband. They have since stopped, as she was declared dead, a victim of the tsunami. But she is still a fugitive. To survive she uses a different name, works for a shady Chinese woman, and resorts to thievery when needs must.
Kajsa’s death forces Joy and Wilda to return to Sweden with Anders, (ironically) a family therapist. When living under his roof becomes an untenable situation, the girls run away, back to Thailand, where they meet by chance Mowgli (Alexander Salzberger, Arne Dahl), Shahdi (Shima Niavarani, The Fourth Man), and Cilla (Disa Östrand, Arne Dahl) — a trio of traveling, hedonistic hippies. Meanwhile, Anders arrives in Thailand, searching frantically for his daughters with the help of Joy’s Thai boyfriend, Pong (Sanong Sudhla).
Any hope Glenn and Oh have of adopting a child means going to Sweden, where the laws are more in their favor. But the interviews required for Oh’s visa application at the Swedish Consulate’s office prove to be extremely personal and uncomfortable. Worse yet, Consul Björn Gunnarsson (Dag Malmberg, The Bridge) is suspicious of Oh. But in the end there is good news, so off to Sweden Glenn and Oh go to start the adoption process.
Back in Thailand, Majlis finds herself with no place to bed down and no choice but to serve as a courier for the Chinese woman, who’s offered her a choice payment of sorts in return. However, when arriving to retrieve the package, Majlis is aghast to discover it is a she — a young, traumatized, and orphaned 11-year-old girl named Teng (Namfon Phetsut). With her own survival at stake, Majlis sets off to bring Teng to the address she was given, until she realizes in horror what is in store for the girl.
Wherever they go, there they are. Whether in Thailand or Sweden.
As Joy grows into a younger version of Kaysa, as Glenn denies the truth about Oh and his father, and as Majlis becomes a caretaker once again, they get further entangled in the messes they created… until dangerous situations for Wilda and Teng, and the reality of Glenn’s life, force them and Anders to confront their past, their conscience, and their wants against their responsibilities.
Will there, can there be happy endings for their stories?
Season 2 of 30 Degrees in February is beautiful, both in its settings and storytelling, and a must-watch drama for any Euro TV fan. With threads involving love and loss, truth and lies, sacrifice and forgiveness, its characters will madden, sadden, and gladden you, move you, and redeem any faith you might have lost in humankind.
Costarring in Season 2 are Linus Wahlgren (Crimes of Passion) as photographer Johan; Eva Fritjofson (Camilla Läckberg’s Fjällbacka Murders) as Swedish social worker Eva-Lena Hallberg; Vanna Rosenberg (Arne Dahl) as Anneli, Glenn’s neighbor and wanna-be girlfriend in Sweden; and Clas Hartelius (Arne Dahl) as Knutsson, Glenn’s old boss.
Produced by Anagram, in co-production with FilmVäst and SVT, 30 Degrees in February: Season 2 is written by Truls Andersen and Anders Weidemann, and directed by Andrea Östlund, Emiliano Goessens, and Håkan Lindhé. Weidemann, Martin Persson, and Thunn Pestonji are the producers and Gunnar Carlsson is the executive producer.