Fortitude has well earned its reputation for the bizarre – think frosty Twin Peaks if Twin Peaks had a rotting woolly mammoth housing prehistoric parasitic wasp larvae.
In the Arctic Circle outpost of Fortitude, something very, very strange is affecting the research and mining hub’s inhabitants – both human and fauna.
The show, starring The Killing’s Sofie Gråbøl, Game of Thrones’ Richard Dormer, Stanley Tucci and Dennis Quaid, comes with a complex mythology, so as we face the third and final season, let us catch you up and weird you out with the oddest things that have happened on Fortitude so far...
Polar bears ate polar bears, reindeer ate polar bears, and people drank hallucinogenic reindeer pee
Is there something in the bears’ bloodstream that’s making them all psychotic and cannibal-ly? What the hell are reindeers, i.e. herbivores, doing munching on polar bear remains? And then there were the disturbing mass reindeer miscarriages. Was the devil dwelling in the wilderness?
The townsfolk were getting in on the reindeer action too, courting serious strife by imbibing “reindeer juice” – pee collected from the hallucinogenic mushroom-munching sleigh-guiders. You’ve got to wonder whether Bear Grylls would even try that.
A rotting woolly mammoth released prehistoric parasitic wasps
It was the discovery and retrieval of woolly mammoth remains that kicked off a true environmental horror that reverberates throughout the series.
Parasitic wasp larvae were frozen inside the permafrost-preserved mammoth for 30,000 years, so when the prehistoric creature started to thaw out, so too the pesky wasps. They lay their eggs in the bloodstream of some of Fortitude’s townsfolk, setting up host and unleashing hell.
The town Doc got infected and all lumpy and waspy
When there’s a potential plague happening you don’t want the town doctor out of action, but a sickening event put Dr. Allerdyce (Phoebe Nicholls, Downton Abbey) in quarantine, ancient wasps burrowing out of her skin, and then some. It was truly biblical.
The townsfolk got spewy and stabby with kitchen utensils
For a town that Governor Hildur Odegard (Gråbøl) called the “safest place in the world”, one where serious crime was non-existent, the bodies sure were piling up. Torsos were vigorously ripped apart by various kitchen utensils like forks, potato peelers and cleavers, followed by an act a little too stomach-churning to mention here.
And those doing the slicing and dicing oddly didn’t seem to feel the cold during their psychotic episodes.
The sheriff seemingly became invincible. Or inhuman. Or human, but “different”…
Sheriff Dan Anderssen (Dormer) was already something of a shifty character, but then something quite literally got into the guy.
In season two, it transpired that he’d disappeared into the Arctic wilderness for nine weeks and somehow survived. Sheriff Dan returned wearing a smirk of something super-devilish. Or was it the smugness of something superhuman? The sheriff could wade into hyperthermia-inducing water, no problem.
Oh, and he also developed a taste for human flesh (and the aforementioned “reindeer juice”). So was he even human at all now? Of course he was, assured also-shady scientist Dr. Sarinda Khatri (Parminder Nagra, Bend It Like Beckham), just “different”. Settled then.
A blood aurora and some seriously strange carnage
As season two began, an eerie blood aurora, a transmutation of the aurora borealis, lit up the Arctic sky. Thought of as a bad omen, the blood aurora certainly came through on its promise. We got a flashback of a baby-eating cannibal, and more twisted happenings in present day with severed heads turning up, a serial killer bone-and-body sculptor, odd shamanistic rituals, tongue removal and self-castration. Did we mention this show is bloody?
And season three promises to get even weirder…
Expect more dodgy scientific experimentation (anyone remember the squealing swine vivisection in the hyperbaric chamber in season one?), more body ripping, a mysterious newcomer with a ghastly, very Hollywood agenda, a big name getting topless and ball-gagged, body parts served up on a plate… And whatever the hell’s happening to Sheriff Dan continues to happen, with a neat twist.
But as has become Fortitude tradition, don’t expect any easy answers.
Season 3 of Fortitude is now streaming at SBS On Demand.
You can also watch the first two seasons, if you dare. Start from the beginning: