It’s dark. It’s disturbing. And it’s binge-worthy. It is The Method, a Russian crime drama and psychological thriller reminiscent of Dexter.
What The Method (Metod) isn’t is weird (which is how a couple of viewers described the series in the members review section of Netflix).
The 16-episode first season opens with two men, presumably police, questioning a young woman. She is the heroine, Esenya Steklova (Paulina Andreeva, Locust, Ottepel), and her answers have to do with Major Rodion Meglin (Konstantin Khabenskiy, Trotsky, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).
Antihero Meglin is the mysterious man with the method — an investigator for the Russian Police who’s part Tony Hill (from Wire in the Blood), part Dexter Morgan (from Dexter), and part Sherlock Holmes, with a dash of Columbo in the mix, too. He’s brilliant and boorish, compassionate and cold-blooded, disconcerting and delusional. And a bit worse for wear on multiple levels.
He drives an older-model Mercedes, downs swigs of whiskey throughout the day and night, and always works solo. Until Esenya asks Meglin if she can be his intern and he uncharacteristically says yes.
Newly graduated from law school and the daughter of Ministry of Justice Senior Counselor Andrei Sergeyevich Steklov (Vitaliy Kishchenko, Palach), Esenya is a woman with a mission: She aims to find the person who murdered her mother sixteen years ago.
Esenya first encounters Meglin at a crime scene, the club where her friend and fellow graduate dies a horrific death and Meglin identifies the culprit in the crowd in mere minutes. Under the spell of his brilliance, Esenya decides to forego a steady job in St. Petersburg in favor of training with Meglin to be a criminal investigator, much to the chagrin of her father (who has his own dealings with the method man).
Her first case with Meglin concerns the strangulation deaths of several young women in Lipetsk. Sometimes the work is boring and slow-going, sometimes it’s downright dangerous. When Esenya unwittingly helps him to catch the murderer and witnesses how Meglin deals with the guy, she gets her first major clue that her mentor might be as much of a madman and monster as the serial killer.
Therein lies a critical component of Meglin’s method: getting into the minds of the criminals he pursues. Another is vigilante justice.
With each investigation, Esenya picks up on more and more of Meglin’s characteristics and strategies and incorporates them as her own, thus transforming herself from intern to protégé. (Not that she didn’t bring anything with her to their relationship. Key word: pencil.)
After only a few episodes, it is already clear that Meglin is not long for this world. He is ill, takes meds, and has wrenching episodes. With the two men in black, Esenya speaks of him in the past tense, drinks from his flask, and smokes cigs from his cigarette case. How Meglin meets his demise, we shall see.
If you, like me, have watched other Russian shows where you couldn’t even get through the first episode because it was so bad, know that The Method is not one of them. The storylines are compelling and the acting is quite good. (Khabenskiy won two Best Actor awards for his portrayal of Meglin.)
The mind games and gruesome killings are to be expected in a psychological crime thriller. Not so much givens as nice touches are the creative details (e.g. the necklace in Episode 1) and cutting dialogue (throughout). “You have a penis instead of a soul” is one for the ages, as is “Why add another ten years [to your life]? You’ll always be miserable.” (Oh, snap!)
The Method premiered in the US and UK on Wednesday, November 15th, on Netflix.
Season 2 of the series began shooting this past July, so it will probably be a while before it shows up on either side of the pond. Stay tuned for updates.
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