A gripping fusion of The Killing style whodunnit and Borgen-esque political intrigue, Blue Eyes smashed viewing figures in its native homeland and is now available to binge on SBS On Demand. Come on, one million Swedes can’t be wrong.
From the minute Blue Eyes, all glacial stares and throbbing score, starts, we know we’re in Nordic noir territory. The series follows on from the tradition established by iconic leading ladies like Sarah Lund, Birgitte Nyborg, and Saga Norén, with the two central protagonists in this series both female, both in politics, and both facing a pivotal moment in their career.
Louise Peterhoff plays Elin Hammar, a young waitress who is visited at her restaurant by her former boss Gunnar Elvestad (Sven Nordin) the Minister of Justice, who informs his former protégé that he needs her back as his new chief of staff. Hammar soon discovers that someone is trying to cover up the mysterious disappearance of her predecessor and she sets out to uncover the injustice.
Meanwhile in the small town of Ludvika, mother of two and grandmother Annika Nilsson (Anna Bjelkerud) is being victimised. She is the local representative for the extreme right-wing party Trygghetspartiet. After giving a controversial speech to launch her parties’ election campaign, she is brutally slain. Devastated by their loss, Nilsson’s daughter Sofia, played by Karin Franz Körlof and son Simon (David Lindströmdo) do not handle the tragic news well. Sofia maintains her mother’s political stance but takes a more extreme point of view when it comes to getting her point across.
Soon, the Prime Minister (played by Millennium regular and occasional popstar Niklas Hjulstrom) is dealing with a missing persons case and a murder 8 weeks before an election, while right-wing party extremists attack rapists, paedophiles, and drunk drivers - clearing the streets of undesirables by taking the law into their own hands. The slippery slope into vigilante law has begun.
Complaints were made to the broadcasting regulator about the show because the fictional Trygghetspartiet party too closely resembled the Swedish Democrats. Some of the actors became victims of online abuse, something that Peterhoff accepted as it meant they were doing something right. She told British newspaper The Telegraph. “It says we are making a good, complex image of the parties. It would be horrible if it was black and white.”
That’s the rub. Blue Eyes may be an enthralling political thriller, but at its core it is a searing comment on the far-right parties that are taking over Europe.
Much of the underlying tension in Blue Eyes stems not from the crime at hand or even the House Of Cards style skullduggery, but the presence of the far right and the extremist views that they will go too far to propagate. The most terrifying thing is the racists are not skinheads with swastikas tattooed onto their foreheads. They are regular people, as the show’s creator Alex Haridi, the writer behind sci-fi sensation Real Humans, told The Guardian: “the nice old lady sitting next to you on the bus could harbour really racist thoughts and ideas. That’s the true nightmare.”
Holding a mirror up to society, Haridi’s drama reveals the dark underbelly of politics. Brexit, UKIP, the French National Front and the aforementioned Swedish Democrats represent the unrest and upheavals taking place across Europe at the moment.
Inspired by The Wire and Homeland, Haridi conjured up the idea for his slow-build political thriller after witnessing a shocking election result where the far-right gained surprising ground. Now, sadly, those kinds of results are the norm. The public persuaded to cast their vote on the promise of strict immigration and more jobs for locals. Sound familiar? It’s a problem being seen the world over. Angry racism masquerading as political statement. Politicians are feeding on the public’s fear. Terror attacks, nationalism and immigration becoming the electoral buzzwords of the day.
Wherever you live, Blue Eyes is relevant.
Blue Eyes is streaming now on SBS On Demand: