Financial thrillers are back in style, and Blinded is very stylish indeed. Not just because it features good-looking people having forbidden relationships in classy Swedish apartments (though yes, it does feature all that), but because it’s a thriller.
Loosely based on a real scandal that rocked Sweden at the start of the decade, Blinded (Now streaming at SBS On Demand) digs down into the shady world of financial scams and mismanagement. Taking on the ways banks look after themselves at the expense of their clients never goes out of fashion.
Bea Farkas (Julia Ragnarsson, recently seen in Midsommar) is having an affair. Well, technically, the man she’s with is having an affair; after all, he’s the one who’s married. Peder Rooth (Matias Varela, from season 3 of Narcos) is also the CEO of ST Bank, one of Sweden’s major financial institutions. Bea is a financial journalist, which makes their relationship deeply unprofessional. But there’s a spark between them, and having both come up from working class backgrounds, their bond goes beyond their overlapping careers.
Then things get complicated (okay, more complicated). While she’s usually passed over in her newsroom for her high-flying colleague Markus Thulin (Albin Grenholm), out of the blue Bea is given the job of covering Peder’s bank’s quarterly report – a job that includes interviewing him. She doesn’t want to give any hint of favouritism, so she goes in asking the tough questions about how his bank has managed to be so profitable.
That’s bad news for Peder, as tough questions are exactly what his bank doesn’t need. And with the rest of the press giving them an easy ride, he starts letting her know that her stance might just have the opposite effect to the one she intended. After all, if nobody else has a problem with the bank’s success, her tough approach might start to look like she was over-compensating… or even had a guilty conscience.
It’s this kind of manoeuvring that gives Blinded its edge. Maybe Peder has a point; he doesn’t want their relationship to come to light either, especially as his wife Sophie (Julia Dufvenius) doesn’t seem like someone who’d take an affair lightly. But it’s also exactly the approach you’d expect from a man who has something to hide – and if he’s willing to tell lies in his private life, how trustworthy can he really be professionally?
The relationship at the heart of Blinded is anything but straightforward. It’s easy to imagine early on that their affair will simply add a bit of spice to the story of financial corruption. Every time she finds some real dirt, they’ll have a passionate embrace and she’ll be torn between doing what’s right and protecting the man she loves. But their relationship turns out to be a lot more complex – and more real – than that.
Simply by continuing her investigation, Bea’s making it clear that she values her work and her job at least as much as she does her relationship with this married man. Her feelings for him are definitely mature, both as an adult and as someone who’s been around him for a while now, which means they’re more nuanced than just being blindly in love with him.
And while her tough stance against the bank might have been (partly) an act at first, once she makes it clear she’s not backing down in her investigation, sources come out of the woodwork. Once she knows there’s something to her story, it casts her relationship with Peder in a whole new light.
Now she’s driven by a need to uncover the truth, not only because that’s her job, but also because she needs to know whether her lover has been lying to her. It’s personal and passionate, but it’s driven by something more complex – and possibly darker – than romantic love.
Likewise, Peder’s motives are increasingly murky. He’s already risking his family for her; how far is he willing to go when vast amounts of money are also at stake? He’s not alone in this either; ST Bank isn’t exactly a small operation. The bank’s Chairman of the Board Otto Rehnskiöld (Claes Månsson) seems like a decent man, but how long is he going to tolerate his CEO playing games with a journalist who seems determined to bring them all down?
With this much money involved, there’s only so long people are going to let Bea sniff around their operation, no matter who she’s sleeping with. And when they decide to take action, what started as a simple financial investigation turns out to have stakes that are literally life and death.
Blinded is now streaming at SBS On Demand:
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