DEADWIND (2018) – Netflix Original Series Season 1, Episode 1: ‘The Widow’

A Nordic Noir television series in the same vein as Danish TV’s The Killing and The Bridge, the Finnish crime drama Deadwind follows the story of a gruesome crime and a troubled police officer who is put in charge of solving it.

Just months after the tragic loss of her husband, Detective Sofia Karppi returns to work in the Helsinki Police Department. On her first day back, she is assigned a new partner, Sakari Nurmi, who specialises in financial crimes. It’s not exactly a match made in heaven. Their first case begins as a routine disappearance. Following the discovery of women’s clothes near a lake, Sakari assumes the woman had simply gone for a swim and drowned, and suggests they call in the divers. Karppi is convinced there is something else at play and calls in the police dog team. Her hunch leads them to a body buried in a shallow grave with flowers in her hands. From there the case quickly escalates into a puzzling homicide.

Holding firmly to the principles of Nordic Noir, Deadwind is a character- and setting-driven story, in which we participate in the slow piecing together of a bigger picture. It’s a realistically grim portrayal of investigators trying to bring some semblance of order to a chaotic world. The subject matter is depressing, but the storytelling is good.

Much like her predecessors in the Nordic Noir genre, the main protagonist is a strong female character. Like Lund in The Killing and Saga in The Bridge, Sophia Karppi is portrayed as a smart detective with an obsessiveness in the cases she investigates. We are also introduced to Karppi’s complicated homelife, where she is struggling to cope with two children in her hours off. However, while there is enough intrigue to move the story forward, there were several inconsistencies within the episode that left me wondering how the police knew where they were meant to go.

One of the main weaknesses of the episode for me was the lack of sufficient attention to the procedures of the investigation. Unlike The Bridge, in which the detectives’ thought processes and the investigative connections they make are clearly shown, the narrative within Deadwind skips along without supplying sufficient procedural detail to support the actions the detectives are making. Which threatens to undermine the story’s plausibility and the procedural nature of the series.

Although the pilot episode of Deadwind closely resembles other crime dramas in the genre and the emphasis is upon the chase, rather than the protagonist’s emotional journey, I think there is plenty of potential in the story to justify greenlighting the full series.