Sweet Scandinavian television dramas are like a dog’s fleas – just when you think you’ve caught the last, another pops up out of nowhere. Except unlike dog’s fleas (and sketchy metaphors), you want more.
Enter the series Mammon, all six episodes of which are currently available on SBS On Demand. No, it isn’t the lead character’s surname, nor the Norwegian word for ‘mother’ or ‘breast’. The title basically translates to ‘greed’, but as this is one series where trusting anyone, or anything, would make you look just a wee bit silly, I think it’d more fittingly translate to ‘trust’.
Oh, wait. Google knows a bit more about the word…
Aside from the Norwegians adopting the Greek-rooted word for ‘material possessions’, Mammon was used during biblical times to label those who practice ‘dishonest worldly gain’. Methinks the creators were leaning towards the more specific biblical definition, if the ominous opening quote is any indication:
“From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury and the wrath of God.”
As we all know, any time someone quotes Revelations, some grandiose, high-stakes stuff is about to go down.
A daily newspaper, a corporate institution and a life-sized question mark walk into a bar…
A Norwegian newspaper and a monstrous corporate company: two working environments not exactly known for complete transparency. The former, lead by blindly passionate journalist Peter Veras, uncovers that members of the latter stole from a second hole in the company’s piggy bank, and that one man — Daniel — ends up taking the fall and resigning in disgrace.
For the first twenty minutes, we’re eased into things as the story breaks. Right seems right and wrong seems wrong and it borders on boring, until a rug on which you had no idea you were standing is pulled out from under you. In sum: don’t worry about the slow start. See it as the calm before the WTF is happe…WTF…
Let’s meet the entirely trustworthy cast of characters:
Peter Verås – our hero
Our protagonist - the journalistic equivalent of a trigger-happy cop and the man who uncovers the corruption thanks to an anonymous online source. We meet him as a slightly less competent version of your rogue reporter – more concerned with exposing the truth than the consequences of doing so. But is his want to expose the truth as noble as it seems?
Remember, the whole “Mammon” thing.
Inger Marie Steffensen - the fellow journo
Peter is Inger’s closest ally in the newsroom, but she has her own ambitions.
Frank Mathiessen – the veteran boss
Mathiessen is your typical veteran newsman – stern, a little jaded and more focused on the big picture than the scoop. When pressured by Peter to run the story that starts this whole mess, he sensibly errs on the side of caution. Because he’s your typical veteran newsman, right? Of course he’s going to err on the side of caution for the sake of thoroughness, not outside pressures/interests, right?
He’s been around the block a few times and knows when to dot the i’s and add diagonal lines to the o’s.
Daniel – the scapegoat
Dry, charming and the mysterious face of the corrupt corporation in question. Did he choose to take the fall, or was he coerced? Is he really involved at all? And if he is, was he the only one? Never mind that. Who the hell is he?
Vibeke Haglund – the wild card
Vibeke takes to her cop job at the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime with a Dragon Tattoo sartorial style, a boldness bordering on impulsivity and…
… a strange, incongruous paranoia that she’s being followed. This panic sees her constantly calling for back-up while off-duty, despite the fact she works a desk job.
Eva Verås – the right-hand woman
Peter’s sister-in-law, to whom he’s quite close. Eva’s a strong, intuitive woman, so it’s no surprise that when Peter ends up in over his head, she’s there to help out. That’s all she’s doing, right?
Andreas Verås - the innocent bystander
Peter’s cherubic nephew who’s dragged into this whole labyrinth a naïve boy and taken on a journey that will no doubt test what kind of man he’ll become. And determine whether that man will end up for or against Peter.
The anonymous online presence that initially contacted Peter. All we know is that he/she/it is a fan of ALL CAPS. Or, is his/her/its keyboard faulty?
Topographical highway shot
Popping up in various episodes, is THS really the top view of two intersecting roads, or is it some sort of ancient symbol made out of roads?
Does this mean Peter might share Russell Crowe’s affliction from A Beautiful Mind? Is this conspiracy real? Or is Peter merely talking to voices?
Also, there’s this shadowy guy in a dishonest hat…
If you think you can handle it, watch the premiere of Mammon on Tuesday 5 April at 10.30pm (AEST) on SBS or on SBS On Demand.
If all of that seems like a lot of work, you can just watch the first episode right here: