• ‘Face to Face’ season 2 is here. (SBS)Source: SBS
Nordic Noir’s biggest stars are back in a gripping thriller where every episode is a face-to-face showdown.
By
Anthony Morris

13 Jan 2022 - 12:56 PM  UPDATED 13 Jan 2022 - 12:56 PM

Season 1 of Face to Face was a masterclass in how to wring tension and drama out of a simple conversation. The series had a simple set-up: Copenhagen investigator Bjørn (Ulrich Thomsen) would interrogate a different character each episode in his quest to find a killer. The result was both a gripping thriller and an actor’s showcase. Each half-hour episode turned into a battle of wits as two first-class actors clashed verbally (and occasionally physically).

That season ended with Bjørn putting himself above the law; now Face to Face is back with a new investigator trying to stop a brutal crime before it happens.

After the events of season 1, Bjørn’s estranged wife Susanne (Trine Dyrholm) is back at work as a psychologist, while trying to hold her life together after the brutal murder of her daughter. Her husband is no help: he’s now in prison on charges of murder.

Then John (Olaf Johannessen) arrives at her door wanting help to give up smoking. It seems like a straightforward request, until the session ends up exposing a secret that shakes her to her core. Under hypnosis he confesses that he’s a serial killer targeting young women, and reveals just enough information to put her on the trail of his next victim.

One of the most powerful and moving episodes in the first series came second to last, where Bjørn met with Susanne over the coffin containing their estranged daughter. Now it’s her turn to take the lead trying to solve a mystery (though Bjørn does make an appearance later in the series) – only this time she’s also racing against the clock to track down the woman before the killer can. And when the local police commissioner (Søren Malling) brushes her off, she’s left to handle things on her own.

The idea of a drama based around a series of one-on-one dramatic face-offs had many of the biggest names in Nordic Noir eager to get involved. The second season keeps both the set-up and the tradition of a big-name cast. Six-time Robert Award winner Trine Dyrholm is perhaps best known for the Academy Award-winning thriller In A Better World and three series of Danish TV series The Legacy; Thomsen appeared in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, Brad Pitt’s Killing Them Softly, and as the main villain in US crime drama Banshee.

The cast for the individual episodes is just as star-studded. Søren Malling was a regular on Borgen, played the level-headed Inspector Jan Meyer in The Killing and heads up brilliant six-part drama The Investigation; Dar Salim, who plays a soldier Susanne treated for PTSD, was in Game of Thrones, The Devil’s Double, Warrior (where he played a very similar character) and season 2 of everyone’s favourite Icelandic crime series Trapped.

Olaf Johannessen has the Nordic Noir trifecta, having been a regular on The Bridge and The Killing, as well as having a role on Borgen; Danica Curcic, who plays a suspicious cop, was in Wallander, The Bridge, Warrior and Stephen King’s The Mist. Pernilla August appears as a fellow psychiatrist; she’s probably best known for playing Anakin “Darth Vader” Skywalker’s mum in the Star Wars prequels and is also in The Investigation alongside Malling.

Through each encounter it’s clear that Susanne is a very different kind of investigator from her husband. Whereas Bjørn occasionally seemed to take his interrogation cues from Dirty Harry (one episode in season 1 takes place largely at gunpoint), Susanne is a psychologist, with a sharp eye for what makes people tick. Her more manipulative, conversational approach actually helps build the drama; she can’t rely on force or the weight of the law to get people to talk, so words are all she has.

She’s also more acerbic than Bjørn was, bringing a nice spark of humour to some of her conversations. It’s this spark, combined with some surprisingly energetic action scenes later in the series, that provide a good contrast to the often sombre tone of her quest. It’s clear almost from the start that this investigation is on some level a way to help process the loss of her daughter, and her sadness and grief hangs over her actions.

She couldn’t save her own child; maybe if she can rescue John’s next victim, she can find a way to rescue herself.

Seasons 1 and 2 of Face to Face are now streaming at SBS On Demand. Dive into new season 2:

 

Jump back to season 1:

 

Follow the author @morrbeat

More from The Guide
Join Italian icon Isabella Rossellini in the ruins of ‘Pompeii: Sin City’
From eye-opening brothel murals to graffiti swooning over the sex appeal of gladiatorial challengers, there’s a whole lotta sauce stuffed into this historical doco.
Germany’s underground techno scene, dirty politics and grimy deals: 'Echos' is riveting viewing
'Echos' is streaming now on SBS On Demand.
'Bitchin': the life of trouble(d) man, Rick James
A bold documentary explores the tortured soul of punk-funk pioneer Rick James.
“Every script was a surprise.” B.K. Cannon talks about her role in season 2 of ‘Why Women Kill’
In the second season of ‘Why Women Kill’, B.K. Cannon plays a waitress who finds herself caught in a world of violence, murder, betrayal and gardening supplies.
French crime series ‘The Promise’ grapples with the ghosts of the past
From the team behind ‘Spiral’ comes a gripping mystery that kept all of France on the edge of their seats.
Need to fit in or prefer to go your own way? Either way, SBS VICELAND has you covered
Some people are desperate to fit in while others are happier to walk their own path. These diverse shows are screening in January on SBS VICELAND.
Get drawn into the crime-solving drama of 'The Sketch Artist'
An artist's "witchy" abilities help a tiny team solve cold cases in this excellent Canadian crime series.
When the world locked down, these lovers reached out to one another
Who will find their happily ever after in adorable documentary ‘The Year That Changed Love’?
Explore the dark side of Christmas in this Nordic trio of films
Have you been naughty or nice this year? These alt-Xmas movies show that your life may depend on the correct answer!