It’s definitely a stretch to call this French series “Nordic Noir”, but fans of the genre will feel right at home with Witnesses. This week the second season of Witnesses has landed on Aussie screens, and here’s some background to the show that’s so icy you’ll want to pop on the warmest coat you have before viewing.
You don’t have to have seen the first season
Obviously that’s why this article exists, to fill in those who came in late. But lack of foreknowledge is fine for Witnesses, especially if you are familiar with how a crime series operates. In Witnesses, there’s a troubled female crime-solver, a bizarre murder scenario, and plenty of sweeping landscapes and beautiful homesteads to drool over in the coastal setting of Le Tréport, in northern France. Within minutes you’ll be comfortably at home in the world of the show.
But last season did have a HUGE impact on season 2
Marie Dompnier returns to the series as Detective Sandra Winckler – a hard-working single mum struggling to balance the serious business of murder with the responsibility of two kids (one extremely skilled at backchat) and her now-ex husband who’s disturbing her desire for a low-key life. Since last time we saw her, the hyper-competent Winckler has perfected the art of finding the perfect clue in the perfect location – usually taped underneath something in whichever room she happens to be in.
There’s a new major player in the crew
We’ve lost retired-cop-with-a-dark-past Paul Maisonneuve, but this time around, Audrey Fleurot joins the cast as Catherine Keemer. She’s at the centre of the mystery, with a bad case of amnesia and an even worse case of wearing coats and boots the exact same colour as her hair. Does she know more than she’s letting on? And where has she been for the past few years?
The crime that drives the season is especially bizarre
Spoilers for the first minute or so of the show – a woman runs late for her bus, but instead of the usual surly driver, she finds a vehicle stacked with 15 dead, frozen men sporting nice haircuts and sharp suits. It’s one of those iconic images that stays with you - like Laura Palmer wrapped in plastic, or that human totem pole in Hannibal. As the details pile up, you’ll want to learn more.
You’ll want to marathon the whole thing – and you can
It isn’t just that Winckler is a compelling protagonist, or even that the aforementioned bizarre crime is one that demands answers as soon as possible, s’il vous plait. Fortunately, the whole eight-episode season is available through SBS On Demand, so there’s no howl of anguish as the credits roll. Just make sure you’ve cleared your schedule for the day before entering the town of Le Tréport.
Both the first and second seasons of Witnesses are available to stream now on SBS On Demand: