Set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and a fast-flowing river in Salzburg, Season 2 of Pagan Peak sees another monstrous murderer at work.
Cyrill Boss and Philipp Stennert, the creators and co-writers of Pagan Peak (Der Pass), have followed up The Bridge-inspired first season of their series with another gripping story featuring a cold-blooded killer with an obsession that leads him to murder.
Opening a year after the events in the Season 1 finale, Season 2 of Pagan Peak finds members of Traunstein CID, including Ellie Stocker (Julia Jentsch, The Vanishing, Hannah Arendt), working on a gruesome murder case. Although Ellie seems to be as good an investigator as before, she is no longer the smiling, cheerful, idealistic woman she had been. She is still suffering from the trauma caused by the Krampus case, explaining away her questionable (panic attack-induced) actions to get by — until excuses no longer suffice and she is suspended from duty.
Over in Austria, Ellie’s former cross-border partner, Gedeon Winter (Nicholas Ofczarek, Dark Woods, The Team), lies in a hospital bed in an induced coma following the attempted assassination. When he awakens, he wants, nay needs, to get back to work, but is reminded that his days as a police detective are over — owing to a bullet that will likely remain lodged in his head for the rest of his life.
Near the city of Salzburg, the dead body of a young woman is found by a river, naked, face hidden. Tortured before she was eventually murdered, she is identified as an 18-year-old German national, which prompts the Austrian police to request support from Germany. With Ellie being sidelined, she recommends her colleague, junior officer Yela Antic (Franziska Von Harsdorf, Tatort), as the liaison officer. This is Yela’s big break, and the ambitious young officer intends to give it her all, which she does. She also convinces DCI Manuel Riffeser (Andreas Lust, Dark Woods), the head of the special commission for the German woman’s homicide case, to bring Gedeon on the case as a consultant.
Meanwhile, the murderer continues with his obsession and his killing.
A twist of fate brings Ellie back to Salzburg, reuniting her with Gedeon as she joins the special commission team in investigating the multiple murders to date and trying to prevent another young woman from becoming the killer’s next dead victim.
When all is said and done, our detectives get their man, but they are still troubled by unfinished business…
As with the first season of Pagan Peak, the audience knows who the murderer is in Season 2, and here we find out practically from the off versus midway through the eight episodes. Folklore is also a part of the new story, but woven in in more subtle ways. And similar to many Nordic noir series, the secondary storyline in the new season relates to social themes — such as the ways in which the rich and powerful abuse people and privilege, subvert the law, and pervert the course of justice — and well as the hows and whys that drive ordinary citizens to do the same.
Both Ellie and Gedeon are haunted by their pasts, and reminders are never far away. Old habits also die hard for them, which is kind of understandable on one hand and totally disappointing on the other. It’s tough to see Ellie in those moments where she looks to be completely broken, but one also feels hopeful for her when she’s on her game. Regarding Gedeon, he is an imposing character due to his nature as well as his physical size, and it’s great to see him again, and with a decent haircut, to boot. (But is that crumpled mess of a double-breasted suit the only one he owns?) As for Yela, she’s like a mini-me Ellie, totally dedicated to her work, willing to push boundaries, and relenting only when needs must.
Given how Season 2 ends, the door is wide open for a third season, and I say, “Bring it!”
Reprising his role as criminal profiler Christian Ressler is Martin Feifel (Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood). New cast members include Dominic Marcus Singer (The Diver Inside), Christoph Luser (Maximilian), Erol Nowak (Vienna Crime Squad), and Sibylle Canonica (Bella Germania).
Pagan Peak: Season 2, a Topic Original, premieres in the US and Canada with its first three episodes today, Thursday, May 12, exclusively on Topic and its digital channels, including Topic on Amazon. New episodes will debut singly each week through June 16.
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