|Into the Woods...|
The story has all the ingredients fans of the Danish/Swedish crime genre go for - secrets, conspiracies, detectives of conflicting dispositions, a cast of civilians ranging from the stiffly orthodox to the total misfit, and a fair amount of violence, much of it committed in the shadows. What creator Henrik Björn has added to the mix is the paranormal, and I think he got the proportions more or less right - no mean feat over ten hour-long episodes.
The story begins with detective Eva Thörnblad (Moa Gammel) facing down a man who's about to kill his estranged wife in front of their small daughter. Eva is shot, but survives thanks to a bulletproof vest. The scene might seem gratuitous but, as with many incidents, it becomes relevant later. Eva then has to return to her home town in wilds of northern Sweden to attend her father's funeral and settle his affairs. When she arrives she discovers that a child has vanished without trace - just as Eva's daughter Josefine did seven years earlier. Suddenly Josefine reappears, not just older but strangely transformed. The girl is suffering from a mysterious ailment caused by a parasite. The final scene of the first episode makes it clear that this is no ordinary infection, and we're into the weird zone.
Over the next nine hours, as you'd expect, things get very strange and quite convoluted, but not to ludicrous degrees. The Thörnblads have been local magnates in the town of Silverhöjd ('Silver Heights') for centuries. It's a company town, and the company is Thörnblad Cellulosa, a timber felling and processing firm. It soon emerges that there's a connection between plans to develop the forest area the town is named after and the kidnapping. What's more, the company board have hired a dangerous individual to deal with the problem independently of the police.
I mentioned The X-Files earlier because this show pays tribute to that series in several ways. There's a scene at a sewage plant that will ring bells, along with a rather messy autopsy, and the discovery of an odd anatomical feature that murder victims have in common. Another influence may be the BBC classic paranormal thriller Edge of Darkness, for reasons I can't give away without dropping a spoiler bomb. But the central idea, of going into the green world of the forest and being transformed, is even older than television.
There are a few flaws. Inevitably, given the size of the cast, some characters are stereotypes, but at least they are well-played. And Jordskott might be a few episodes too long for some viewers. Fans of the original Doctor Who will recognise a slight case of 'six episode syndrome', where a serial concept that sags a bit has to be padded by the introduction of a new menace. But at least the new ingredient here - a dangerous adolescent played by the splendidly-named Happy Jankell - is genuinely interesting rather than just gimmicky.
So, all in all, this is one to watch out for, if you have the stamina for a long, involved viewing session. Just don't go into the woods alone afterwards.