“What makes us a killer?” This is but one question that arises in Modus, the psychological crime thriller that was renewed for Season 2 just two months after it premiered in Sweden.
In Modus, the broad answer to the first question, according to Inger Johanne Vik (Melinda Kinnaman, The Bridge, The Eagle) is, “A choice.”
She should know. Vik is a criminal psychologist and profiler who, because of an incident that happened while she was working on a case with the FBI in Washington, DC, put a career in crime-solving behind her and became a psychology professor at Stockholm University and the author of The Criminal Soul.
Here’s the thing: You can take the woman out of the FBI and even Sweden’s NBI, but you can’t take the investigator out of the woman.
Vik, her two daughters, and ex-husband are staying at a hotel in Stockholm when a man attacks and kills a woman on the property. What he doesn’t anticipate is Inger’s elder daughter, the autistic Stina (newcomer Esmeralda Struwe), witnessing him trying to clean up his mess.
Up in Uppsala, families are gathering at church for the Christmas service led by Bishop Elisabeth Lindgren (Cecilia Nilsson, Spring Tide). Later that evening, she becomes the killer’s next victim, leaving her now-widowed husband Erik (Krister Henriksson, Wallander) devastated.
Leading the investigation into the bishop’s murder is Detective Ingvar Nymann (Henrik Norlén, Johan Falk, Thicker than Water) of Sweden’s National Bureau of Investigation, Inger’s former stomping grounds. He was called to the hotel when Stina herself was nearly killed, and there began the (re)connection between Nymann and Vik.
Meanwhile, Stina’s been having nightmares about what she saw, and her inability to communicate about it is complicated by the killer’s haunting words and close, physical proximity. And in Uppsala, Erik has been quick to dispose of many of his deceased wife’s things while refusing to answer questions from both the police and his son. (Hmm…)
It isn’t long after Inger agrees to help Ingvar on the two murder cases that a man well-known in Stockholm’s art world is found dead. As Schoolhouse Rock taught, “three is a magic number,” and it is with this third victim that the profiler and detective see a pattern — one of a serial killer.
The question now is, “Why kill these particular people?”
I’m halfway through the eight-episode Season 1 and can say this until I finish the last half: The first two episodes are gripping — the kind of hold that makes your palms sweaty and keeps your heart rate elevated, because you just know something bad is going to happen in the next few minutes; you just don’t know what.
The tension tones down in the next two, but what is still frightening is the killer, played by Marek Oravec (Crossing Lines, Foyle’s War). Nej, make that the look of the killer. (The clear, hard stare and pure-evil smile freak me out!)
Modus is based on Fear Not, the fourth crime novel in best-selling Norwegian author Anne Holt‘s “Vic/Stubø” series. The three-time International Emmy® Award-winning screenwriting team of Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe (Unit One, The Eagle, The Protectors) adapted the story for the small screen.
Additional cast members in Season 1 include Simon J. Berger (Arne Dahl), Annika Hallin (Millennium), Peter Jöback (The Inspector and the Sea), Simon Norrthon (Valkyrien), Alexandra Rapaport (The Sandhamn Murders), Magnus Roosmann (Gåsmamman), and Johan Widerberg (Missing).
Viewers in the UK can stream it on Amazon Video.
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