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Wallander series 4 episode 2 review

Just like the first episode in Wallander season 4, the second episode starts on an open road. But it’s not a 4×4 in a hot, African setting this time. Instead, it’s a motorbike cutting through a cold, Swedish mist on the road to Ystad.

Then we cut to the cobbled streets of the town where Kenneth Branagh’s Kurt Wallander ambles along towards a carpark. Unsure just which car is his, he presses the button on his key fob and his trusty Volvo bleeps to life. Suddenly, a motorcycle roars into the picture, Wallander is struck by a man from behind and then kicked on the ground by three leather-clad thugs.

Wallander tries to brush aside his bruised ribs, the cut behind his ear and the shock of it all by arriving at work the next morning to join a police search. The missing pensioner is soon located, but so is someone else. Middle-aged Erica Hjelmqvist’s body is found face down in a puddle with two stab wounds.

She too, it turns out, had trouble with bikers. The Hjemqvists had rented a farm to a biker gang, who are now using it as their HQ and are refusing to quit the property. Wallander visits the farm and is quickly threatened by head of the gang, Gustav Erickson (Clive Wood). A search turns up a knife covered in Erica Hjelmqvist’s blood and fingerprints belonging to the man’s son, Pontus (Hugh Mitchell). When interrogated, Pontus sits in silence. He won’t say a word about the dead woman, nor her missing daughter.

The episode is entitled A Lesson in Love, and is partly based on Henning Mankell’s last Wallander novel, The Troubled Man. It is beautifully shot, the producers making the most of the 100 million kronor budget with some stunning aerial shots of the lonely Swedish roads that carve across the Skåne countryside, sun breaking through autumnal clouds, and lots of rainy windows obscuring Wallander’s troubled countenance.

Kenneth Branagh always brings a warmth and gravity to his Wallander, and his light side shows through most clearly in scenes with his daughter Linda (Jenny Spark) and granddaughter Klara (Kitty Peterkin). It’s lovely too – for Wallander especially – that Baiba Leipa (Ingeborga Dapunaite) makes a return to Ystad. She’s the widowed Latvian from that fantastic Wallander story The Dogs of Riga.

The case itself, like much of the atmospheric photography, falls out of focus for long spells during this 90-minute piece. Wallander keeps seeing bikers. He looks out a window and someone disappears into the shadows, and he thinks his car and home have been broken into. It’s as though he’s being followed. Worse still, at crucial moments he just fades out, losing concentration or feeling dizzy.

Kenneth Branagh conveys Wallander’s confusion well enough, but perhaps there isn’t quite enough worry there considering what’s happening. The murder case itself is quite easy to figure out, but the attack on Wallander and the repeated appearance of the bikers are never explained. Perhaps that will come in the final episode next week, entitled The Troubled Man.

Written by Peter Harness
Directed by Benjamin Caron

Garrick Webster

Garrick Webster is the co-founder of the Crime Fiction Lover website and enjoys the work of James Ellroy, Nordic crime writers and almost any other good noir-ish mysteries. By day he is a journalist, editor and copywriter.

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