Deadwind season 1 review: Netflix's latest Nordic noir offering is reliable, regulation television

Anupam Kant Verma

October 03, 2018 08:51:11 IST

The fundamental issue with Deadwind, the latest Nordic noir acquired and distributed by Netflix, is that it does everything right and nothing beyond. It seems like the creators trawled through hours of Scandinavian noir television that tasted success worldwide and came up with a checklist. Then they fashioned a story in strict accordance with this checklist, ticking away at the boxes with frustrating regularity episode on episode.

Something is rotten in the state of Finland. A woman is found dead. A corporation might be involved. There could be political implications. The lead detective is sparring with ghosts from her recent past. There’s visible tension between her and her partner in the investigation, whose issues are of a markedly different kind. A cloud of impenetrable gloom hangs over the entirety of the show. Everybody is a suspect. Everybody seems to be sleeping with everyone else. And all this while, the perpetrator of the crime was right under the detective’s noses. All that and more packed in 12 hour-length episodes.

In sum, the perfect show to gobble up over successive weekends without having to exercise the grey cells too much, while offering yourself the satisfaction of not having wasted your time on a complete trifle. That’s the trick Deadwind plays upon you. If you stretch yourself a tiny bit, it remains within your reach. You’re a couch potato who can occasionally use it as a yoga mat.

Still from Deadwind. Image via Netflix

Still from Deadwind. Image via Netflix

Pihla Viitala’s Karppi is rendered with all the universally recognisable brushstrokes that delineate a Scandinavian detective. To the point, rarely lapsing into humour, smarter than her colleagues, breaking the rules when necessary, she is the quintessential television detective. So is her partner, the sidekick who never forgets he is a sidekick, even when he becomes in-charge of the case, in keeping with the laws that govern the genre. Deadwind never surprises you. It would rather end abruptly mid-episode than take a narrative risk. Your comfort is the creators’ sole ambition.

Mind you, at no point is Deadwind boring. But it is never truly intriguing. It exists in the mildly fashionable grey area between obsolescence and illuminating that we have come to accept as binge-worthy. An imaginative human being ought to be spending his time undertaking something else. But in case they aren’t, Deadwind isn’t a bad alternative. It is simply an offer you can refuse. But you won’t.

If a reader comes to a review hoping to be guided into making up their mind about whether to view something or not, this writer will fail to offer an answer regarding this show. Granted, Deadwind has a few glaring plot holes. The writing isn’t revelatory, either. Had it been marketed properly, it could have been a popular success. It possesses all the right ingredients. What it’s missing, though, is the proverbial x-factor. Worse, it never set out to have one. Simply put, Deadwind never set out to be memorable in the first place. It only wanted to be seen.

Lately, there’s been a rise in the tendency to fashion shows along the lines of other shows instead of drawing inspiration from life or a wondrous swathe of the imagination. Perhaps it is a result of the concept of binging. Sooner or later, audiences will be able to separate such chaff from the grain. Until then, producers will continue to make a killing running the same idea over and over again, hardly pausing to regurgitate it properly.

Deadwind is best avoided if you’ve never encountered Scandinavian or Nordic noir previously. That’s the most this reviewer can say. If ticking the boxes is your thing, by all means go ahead and watch it. Hardly unwatchable, never remotely edifying, it is reliable, regulation television. It will provide you with just enough food for thought to reach for the next episode.

Deadwind season 1 is now streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer here:

Updated Date: Oct 03, 2018 10:58 AM