Friday, January 04, 2013

Forbrydelsen/The Killing III Finale

The last ten minutes of the very final episode of Forbrydelsen must have come as a shock, if not a disappointment to many of the show's long-term fans. 

Three of the characters chose to behave in ways that required impromptu and unlikely feats of memory. Kamper, the PM, had to recollect in an instant that he was a politician who puts power above all other personal feelings and interests. Zeuthen had to remember that he was heir to a powerful family-run multinational and set aside all previous capriciousness...and Lund had to somehow forget she was a police office and become, well..Danish Dexter. 

These sudden lurches into ethical compromise (or in this particular instance of Lund's actions, un-compromise!) have become a familiar trope of these Scandinavian series. It's one of the reasons that Forbrydelsen, Borgen, The Bridge etc have fallen just short of the quality of Engrenages (Spiral) in terms of character consistency. The French series wins, because it convincingly bakes the wobbliness of moral accommodation into each and every one of the leads and that makes for a more complex experience. In part it's because much of what occurs in the plotting of The Killing seems to be done for our benefit as the viewer, whereas in Spiral our 'presence' as onlookers is made to seem comparatively nonessential. 

Anyway, considering the choices facing the creators of Sarah Lund, I have found a way of making sense of the one they eventually went for. The obvious alternatives of death-in-the-line of duty and happy-ever-after would surely have seemed equally, if not more incongruous. 

Did Lund put a bullet in Reinhardt's head because he had taunted her that he expected to escape justice? It's not an explanation that makes much sense because Lund had no way to know that Kamper and Zeuthen were re-conforming to type back in Copenhagen, and her evidence about the hotel door code certainly looked promising. 

If some of the vigilante urgency of 'GM' had rubbed off onto Lund, the writers should really have shown us how this came about by appropriately developing the scenes in which the pair interacted. 

Perhaps GM didn't kill five people entirely in order to avenge the daughter he barely knew. He might well have done it in part because he was a smart man who resented that the leaders of the organisation that employed him were utterly unaware of his existence. The rage inside him was that much easier to project onto Zeeland once he had a more concrete grievance. 

And on reaching this conclusion it occurred to me that Lund didn't kill Zeuthen's sidekick because she knew he would wriggle free of her persistence and rigour. She killed him because it was a only way of dodging the nicely resolved life which was awaiting her at the end of the case – with her mother, Mark and his new family and even her long ago jilted boyfriend all keen to move into her self-enforced sanctuary of solitude. That at least, would have been in character. 

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