So a favorite detective series has ended. At the end he doesn’t walk towards a sunset over the Pacific Ocean, or stare into the bottom of a glass of whiskey. Rather it is a cloudy gray day with a smattering of snow falling on a beach in Ystad, Sweden. Now if you didn’t already know, Ystad is a real town and it is located on Sweden’s southern coast. It is the home base of our dour but brilliant police detective.
The detective’s name is Kurt Wallender, and he is a fictional character created by the author of numerous mystery novels – Henning Mankell. A number of Mankell’s stories have been made into both films or TV series. Four different actors have portrayed Wallender: Rolf Lassgard, Lennart Jahkel, Krister Henriksson, and Kenneth Branagh.
Netflix has just posted Season Three of Henning Mankell’s Wallender. There are six episodes of 90 minutes each. Before this batch, I watched the 13 episode Second Season also on Netflix. I believe you can find Season One on DVD or Amazon Instant Video, or Hulu. I should specify that for this post, I am talking about the ones with Swedish actor Krister Henriksson.
I found the Swedish noir style very impressive. The emphasis is on character and social issues like drugs, immigration, and corruption. This is not to say that there’s no action, or crimes of passion – there are some very violent crimes, but action is not in the forefront.
In this, the last season, the topics are:
Kidnapping & Revenge
A Missing Child
Exploitation of Immigrant Workers
A Cold War Death 20 Years after
Krister Henriksson portrays Kurt Wallender. Wallender is brilliant, and driven, but he distinctly lacks flash. He’s an older detective – late 50’s or early 60’s and he doesn’t take the best care of himself. He drinks too much, often lacks social graces, disagrees with his colleagues – meaning he can be a bit of a dick at times, and in Season Three, he’s kind of slovenly. In interviews Mankell has stated that a key element is that Wallender changes – like the rest us. We age and we change. And the important fact is that these changes are written into the stories.
He’s divorced, and has an adult daughter who is married with a child, and is expecting another. She’s also a detective. On the plus side for Wallender, he is a devoted grandfather and really gets on well with his little granddaughter Klara. Unfortunately, he and his now adult daughter Linda, played now by Charlotta Jonsson, are on far shakier ground.
Earlier, the actress who played Linda – Johanna Sallstrom committed suicide. So plans for retiring Kurt Wallender to launch a new series with Linda Wallender had to be shelved. In fact, that suicide was in 2007. So Wallender was retired for a while on all levels books, film, and TV. But times passes, wounds heal, and things often re-emerge in a new life. So that led to a second season with Krister Henriksson, and now we have a third season – Henriksson is again in the lead role, and a new actress is on board playing Linda.
Wallender likes to listen to opera and often attends an opera in person. His bachelor living quarters are in a decent size cottage right on the beach in Ystad.
He has a dog Jussi, a black lab mix, who is Wallender’s full-time roommate. By no means think of Wallender as a celibate. In season Two he spends time courting a neighbor, who is also a divorced woman, and who is in Ystad as the Town Prosecutor which is akin to our own District Attorneys.
She’s played by Lena Endre, who played the role of Erica Berger in all three of the Millenium Trilogy films (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc).
Speaking of which, Tomas Kohler, who played Plague in the same movie series is also on hand in at least one episode from Season Two.
Other regulars include Douglas Johansson as Martinsson who is also a Senior detective on the Ystad police force,
Mats Bergman as Nyberg, the forensics expert, Stina Ekblad as Karin, the M.E.. She has a secret crush on Wallender, although, we easily see that she’s sweet on Wallender, he most often pretends not to notice.
Then there’s Svartman, played by Frederick Gunnarson. He’s the uniformed policeman, and often serves on stakeouts, searches, arrests, etc.
Basically, I thought that Season Three was not quite as good as Season Two. However, there are reasons for this having to do with Wallender, rather than the crimes or the procedural aspects of the show.
I think I will watch Season One on Amazon Instant Video, and then consider taking in the English language versions which star Kenneth Branagh as Wallender.
If you can deal with the Swedish language version with English subtitles, then you should consider watching this for the realism. If you want to avoid the subtitles, you can watch the Branagh versions. Right now I cannot say if the stories were the same.
But I do recommend the Krister Henriksson’s Wallender. The whole police procedural will seem fresh and new to you, plus Wallender is superbly played by Krister. He’s so good that you might find yourself binge watching assuming you have a Netflix streaming account.
As for why has the series ended, that was pretty much the choice of Henning Mankell, the author as much as Krister’s decision. After three seasons people do tire of working together is about all I’ll say based upon interviews. Meaning, I prefer to look back at the shows rather than what the producers, actor, and author have to say. Especially since I am recommending the series.
Here is the trailer for The Betrayal, one of the six episodes that constitute Henning Mankell’s Wallender: Season Three.