Jan Michelsen (Kenneth M. Christensen) is a cop on a mission. Six months ago a young blonde seventeen year old named Julie Vinding (Alvilda Lyneborg Lassen) went missing from a Copenhagen suburb on her way home from a party. Jan got the case; now he’s the only one who still believes she’s alive.
Unfortunately, those who believe she’s dead include his superiors, and he’s taken off the case. But he’s made a promise to the girl’s parents (which when you think about it probably wasn’t a great idea) and so he’s still conducting his own investigation in his spare time. Which he has plenty of as he’s currently separated from his wife. He’s still pining after her; even though it’s increasingly clear she’s moved on, and you don’t need to be a detective to see more angst in his future there.
Darkness: Those Who Kill is a reboot of a 2011 Danish series that never quite caught on, and this time around it’s clear the producers think they’ve found the secret ingredient to make this Nordic Noir work: going dark. Jan’s relationship is the first hint of this, though the series’ bleak look at human relationships really kicks in with the bad guys. They’re grimly compelling in a way rarely seen on television; if you think love conquers all, let’s just say this show has a few surprises in store.
It’s during Jan’s after-hours investigation that he gets his first big break, though it’s not directly linked to finding Julie: he comes across a link to the 2008 disappearance of a young blonde seventeen year old named Natasha, and rapidly figures out her body’s in a local (and very atmospheric in that Nordic Noir way) lake. The good news is, this police work gets him officially back on the case; the bad news is, now he’s investigating a serial killer.
That’s where the other half of the crime fighting duo comes in. Realising that for all Jan’s skills when it comes to brooding and determination, profiling serial killers isn’t his area of expertise, his boss MT, (Peter Mygindd) decides to bring in Louise Bergstein (Natalie Madueno) an expert on serial killers.
Louise was so good at getting inside the minds of serial killers she was head-hunted by UK police (which is presented here as a step up, so she clearly wasn’t on assignment to Midsomer Murders). Strangely though, she’s given up her police career and is now back in the country working at a women’s shelter as a counsellor for victims of violence and rape. Is she trying to make up for all that exposure to violent criminals? Could something bad have happened to her? For now it’s a mystery.
The original Those Who Kill was based around a similar odd couple pairing, only with the genders reversed. Here the cop coupling is all business, as Louise rapidly gets back into the swing of things for what is meant to be a quick advice session. But Jan’s cold case rapidly heats up as another girl is kidnapped – young blonde hotel worker Emma Holst (Tessa Hoder). Clearly their serial killer is stepping up his game, and the police have to do likewise: Louise’s one-off consulting session is now a full time job.
That’s more than enough set-up for a traditional whodunnit, and the odd couple pairing of Jan and Louise is strong enough for Darkness: Those Who Kill to work just on that level alone. But when Emma is kidnapped we see her kidnappers face, and by the second episode we know he’s one of the police’s top suspects: Anders Kjeldsen (Mads Riisom).
Considering his prison shrink says he’s a brutalised child who’s grown up to be a sociopath, a clearly dangerous individual who’s already been locked up for robbery and rape (and his victim matched the description of the current kidnap victims), this seems like a pretty straight forward case. But there’s a catch: he’s not working alone.
There’s a lot going on in this eight-part series, but the addition of Stine Velin (Signe Egholm Olsen) is probably the most intriguing element. An attractive, smartly-dressed woman with a decent job, she’s the last person you’d expect to be spending time with a creep like Anders. And yet when she comes home to find him in her apartment, she’s not surprised at all: a later shower scene reveals the pair are lovers (ewww).
She’s clearly part of Anders scheme, though what she’s getting out of it is a mystery (especially as he seems to be treating her like dirt). And his scheme is ongoing: both Julie and Emma are alive in a grotty basement, completely at his mercy. Meanwhile, Jan and Louise’s investigation already has him in their sights.
Will they be able to find him and stop him before another girl dies?
Darkness: Those Who Kill is now available to stream at SBS On Demand
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