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The long Labor Day, bank holiday weekend is here, and so is your weekend binge-watch: Before We Die, the heart-pounding crime thriller from Sweden.

Before We Die
Before We Die: Adam Pålsson as Christian, Marie Richardson as Hanna Svensson, and Alexej Manvelov as Davor Mimica — Image courtesy of Walter Presents / PBS Distribution

My jaw is hurting from watching Before We Die (Innan vi dör).

The first season premiered in the US today, and I just finished the second episode, whose closing scene was so intense, it totally stressed me out and had me gritting my teeth.

And you betcha, I am going back for more as soon as I finish here.

The story opens with cop Hanna Svensson (Marie Richardson, Johan Falk) arresting her son Christian (Adam Pålsson, Don’t Ever Wipe Tears without Gloves) at a club for dealing drugs.

Fast forward two years. The divorced Hanna and her married lover, fellow National Criminal Police detective Sven Birgersson (Johan Hedenberg, The Bridge), leave for work separately from her place. Before walking out the door, he mentions that he needs to talk to her about a source — “Inez with a z.”

Only Sven never arrives at the office.

After discussing her options regarding early retirement or staying on the job with her superior, Tina (Sofia Ledarp, Miss Friman’s War), a concerned Hanna goes out to look for Sven. Although she’s basically been demoted to the Financial Crime squad, Hanna is still a good detective, because she spots a clue that points the police, including Organized Crime detective Björn (Magnus Krepper, Inspector Winter), in the direction of where, rather to whom, to look for Sven: two biker gangs that are at war with each other.

Elsewhere in Stockholm, Christian has been released from prison and is working as a dishwasher in a restaurant owned by the Mimicas, a tight-knit Croatian family led by Davor Mimica (Alexej Manvelov, Occupied). Hanna and “Chippen” connect for the first time in two years at a party for her ex/his dad, where they share a couple of cigs before their conversation disintegrates and his animosity flares.

With Sven still missing (and it looking more and more likely to the cops that he’s been abducted) and with Hanna in possession of his mobile, she gets the go-ahead to pose as Sven in text messages with Inez to see if the source can (unknowingly) help her to find Sven.

Then the plot really thickens.

What Hanna doesn’t know is that Inez is actually her son, and what Christian doesn’t know is that his handler is now his mum. So while their mother-son relationship is constrained and tense, their handler-infiltrator relationship is growing stronger — as is Christian’s role within the Mimica family.

Within mere minutes of the series opener, the narrative dives right into the Sven and “Inez with a z” storylines, and the action doesn’t stop. Some of it might be less dramatic, but scenes like the one in which Hanna goes all fast & furious are thrilling. (I can’t wait to see what happens next!)

Costars in the 10-episode first season (a second has been commissioned) include Cedomir Djordjevic (The Sandhamn Murders), Richard Forsgren (Jordskott), Sara Jangfeldt (Crimes of Passion), Malgorzata Pieczynska (Blue Eyes), Sandra Redlaff (Wallander), and Sofia Rönnegård (Rebecka Martinsson).

Before We Die: Season 1 is now streaming in the US on the PBS Masterpiece Channel on Amazon and Walter Presents.

Viewers in the UK can catch the series on Walter Presents UK, the world drama section of Channel 4’s All 4 on-demand streaming service.


PBS Masterpiece Channel on Amazon

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Euro TV to Watch: Gripping Swedish Crime Thriller ‘Before We Die’