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Wallander – The Sad Bird

A well-known restaurant owner Paulo Salina was kidnapped at gunpoint, leading Kurt to investigate.

w sad bird

Voluntary redundancies and transfers loomed – a proposal, but the writing was on the wall. Cutbacks meant rationalising services and Malmo was going to be the centre of policing in the area.

Jussi like any dog was playing on the fact that Wallander fed him whenever he barked. Wallander forgetting what he had done only moments before. His absences were more worrying when he was in the job though, introducing himself and then looking puzzled about why he was there with his shoelaces undone. The police procedural board at work to follow the investigation was mimicked at home but for much more mundane things like where to keep the keys – it was all quite tragic. Martisson was set up as the informant on Wallander’s state of mental accuity as he fought for his own job at Malmo CID.

Tjader was mentioned as an aggressive suspect who felt cheated by Salina but his pregnant wife gave him a solid alibi as he was attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting but although that was where Kurt and Linda found him he had, he claimed, been on a bender the night before. Solina meanwhile was locked in a box reciting Swedish literature about travelling through dark forests. It was almost bibilcal.

When Tjader turned up dead with a needle in his arm next day it seemed to be a clever murder almost, but not quite, impossible to detect.

Kurt’s anger grew as he realised what was happening to him. Old age wasn’t pretty and an aggressive decline seemed just around the corner. No wonder Linda fretted. Covering up wasn’t a justifiable option for her any more.

Leif Thorson, a Malmo detective, was in it up to his neck but just because he was corrupt it didn’t mean that he too wasn’t a pawn of someone more important. He was allowed to run off into the snow without shoes or his bullets. That he turned up in his apartment with a gunshot would to his head was murder. Jenny had no alibi and a strong motive as her police partner and lover Maria had been deliberately run over and killed. Kurt though had been forced into resignation and wouldn’t be able to officially help bring the top corrupt office to book but we all knew who it was even before the little girl pointed it out to a somewhat confusd Wallander.

There were lots of close ups of men without shoes in this episode – does it mean something significant in Swedish culture?

And so with a fade to blur Wallander was out of the force and relegated to a life of snow swept walks on the beach with daily visits from family. The joy of children the one constant.


Wallander – The Betrayal

An angry wife, an apartment to die for and plastic sheeting in the ground floor bathroom -what could possibly go wrong?

The first two minutes of brutality were reminiscent of Psycho, all plastic, sharp knives and monochromatic due to it being watched again on CCTV by someone more interested in capturing the image than reporting the crime. The assailant was off camera but the audience were naturally assuming it was the husband Eric, unless they were fans of Wallander.

The body turned up elsewhere later and cruelly the woman who discovered it called the daughter to come as a witness, not realising the connection. Julia’s daughter Amanda collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. The description of the person seen acting suspiciously near where the body was found matched the person we had seen watching the CCTV image. Julia’s phone might yield clues but Wallander had already found out that her husband had not reported her missing but Amanda had. Eric was a rat caught in a trap. A phone surreptitiously slipped into his pocket made that clear with repeated texts and calls.

Linn the mistress was seemingly reluctant to provide an alibi but sex and pity made her see things differently.

Amanda’s boyfriend Oscar had an alibi of a reunion but that wasn’t helped by his lack of knowledge about where his former friends lived these days.He was a bit of a scoundrel though, ditching Amanda after a decent interval.

Kurt juggled the complexities of the case while trying to pursue a romantic interest in Bea and pacify Linda when he turned up late for dinner. He remembered his difficulties with Linda when she had been the same age as Amanda and because of the scarring up her arms was concerned she should have someone to talk to. And she certainly did need help, although not quite so much as Kurt.

Wallander – Missing

A pair of estranged parents being filmed arguing by their worried daughter Ella before she goes off on her bike to bunk off school. Her friend Josefin is ill in bed and the sweetshop owner Viktors has given her a double treat. The audience sees amidst a muted colour palate her blue DBS bike being thrown into a lake, and we can’t help but fear the worst. Ella isn’t answering her mobile and the mother and her friends have been looking in the bushes for hours.

Wallander is back, sober and armed.  He finds the jelly heart covered in ants and with the aid of police dogs finds Ella’s den so it is obvious that she has a pattern of hiding. Both parents have been bickering over sole custody and all too eager to blame the other. The police line of inquiry is one of abduction/custody rather than murder. The father had a back up plan to take Ella to Chile if he lost the court case so everyone assumes he has placed her somewhere out of harm’s way. However a helicopter, police officers and volunteers are brought in to scour the surroundings to find something, anything that will lead them to Ella. While Martisson presses the mother on her morning routine and a missed phone call, Wallander ponders a plastic pen and an old case from 2002. Two missing girls, two mothers under suspicion and two pens of the same brand left behind by the little girls.




Wallander: The Troubled Man

New series. 1/6. The Troubled Man

When his son-in-law’s father goes missing, Wallander’s investigations uncover espionage. In Swedish with English subtitles. 


The final season of Wallander opened dramatically in 1982 Cold War skirmishes between a Russian sub and Swedish boats at a top secret Swedish archipelago then shifted to 2012 and a body being raised to the surface in a fisherman’s net. The elderly fisherman looked wistfully into the distance amidst muted blues, greys and whites.

Kurt, Linda and her daughter Klara were all domesticity and normality. Kurt was getting the chance to have a do over and make up for the years when work was more important than his home life but he still needed to go for a drink after it all. Kurt woke up next day, back in his beach house having missed several calls and leaving his gun at the by now closed bar. Unwashed and unkempt he made for work only to find that the waiter had handed it in claiming that Wallander had been drunk so suspension it was. The bright sunlight of the beach while Wallander felt sorry for himself made the rather dissolute Kurt look even more disheveled. Linda understood, only too well. Being the grown up child of an alcoholic is no easier than being the let down child she once was.

Linda’s father-in-law, still important in Government circles due to being an Admiral, was celebrating his 75th birthday at an international bash – giving an excuse for an English language section in speeches. It allowed for a full exposition of historical plot for the audience here. I wonder if that bit was done in a variety of languages given the popularity of Wallander world-wide.

Next day Kurt had a flash of anger at one of his colleagues Martinsson who had come offering Danish pastries and sympathy but when Linda’s father-in-law went for a walk and hadn’t returned after four days he went to Stockholm at the request of Linda’s husband. An investigation outside the police force wasn’t what he wanted to do but it was time to call in family favours to get to the bottom of what might have happened.

The fisherman, it seemed, had been out searching for 30 years for his missing son and Lundberg’s assumption was that the case would be covered up once more. He trusted no-one and as black-clad men had to be hunted off his property in the middle of the night by him firing a gun it seemed as if he was right. The only surprise was when he was photographed next day meeting Linda’s mother in law in a park for a conversation neither of them should have been having.

Kurt was definitely having absences but were they the ones associated with the dementia his father had, connected to his drinking, his diabetes or just those of a distracted man?

Stockholm might provide the answers.




Krister Henriksson Kurt Wallander
Fredrik Gunnarsson Svartman
Mats Bergman Nyberg
Douglas Johansson Martinsson
Marianne Mörck Ebba

Charlotta Jonsson Linda Wallander
Signe Dahlkvist Klara Wallander
Leonard Terfelt Hans von Enke

Wallander – Firewall

Detective Superintendent Kurt Wallander investigates two apparently unrelated deaths, which turn out to be linked to an international cyber-terrorism plot. During the investigation, Wallander discovers that he suffers from diabetes and a mysteriously alluring nurse offers to help him deal with his condition.With Rolf Lassgard, Marie Richardson, Lars Melin, Kerstin Andersson, and Sten Elfstrom.

The themes of this two part story are poverty contrasted with Western wealth. A group of people ranging from an IT expert, a girl who kills the taxi driver who raped her two years previously, a black man travelling under a skimmed identity and a murderous doctor are involved in this attempt to redress the balance. Their rationale is that third world debt should be eradicated and the Western banking system needs to fall in order for this to happen. If people get killed along the way this is justified in the pursuit of the bigger picture.

Against this backdrop Wallander, looking increasingly dissolute, is trying to cope with the news that he has diabetes and needs to alter his lifestyle to accommodate his health. Martinsson wants him to write a letter of recommendation so he can be promoted to Ystad but Kurt is always too distracted by work to get around to it by the deadline.


Wallander – The Fifth Woman

I was introduced to these books before the films and TV shows were available over here. As a result I had a very strong picture in my head of the character when I was page turning. I always felt that the two actors who played the versions I saw first, Branagh and Henricksson were a bit too pretty to play the role of Kurt Wallander. Kurt is addicted to his work, melancholy, fast food, opera, alcohol and self blame for his past and his present. His relationships with his family are problematic and over the course of the novels his father;s taciturn nature is revealed to be hiding the Alzheimer’s to which Wallander will eventually succumb himself. His daughter Linda tries to keep all the members of her family safe and is dutiful but constantly disappointed as Kurt throws himself into his work instead of following through on their joint plans.

The final adaptation I have seen was actually the first to be filmed. Rolf Lassgard’s portrayal of Wallander is the closest to the novels as far as I can remember. The films are thoughtfully shot with grainy scenes with lights flicking on and off to replicate drug induced sleep. Lassgard is overweight, unshaved, gobbling up then throwing away fast food to get to his work mobile phone which is somehow hidden in a pocket. The rain, when it comes, is unrelenting and damages evidence gathering. There are the occasional scenes of snow in other areas where the investigation takes Wallander outside of his jurisdiction but our overwhelming sense of this version of Sweden is crowded hospital corridors, vigilante groups, violent men who all beat their wives when given half a chance, slavery and rain that floods and bounces on the ground while turning the sky an ominous grey..

The Fifth Woman  is a loosely based collection of murders of elderly men who all became rich as mercenaries in the Congo many years before. Obsessions with orchids and bird watching are known to the murderer who uses these to first trap, then punish, then kill the men so that they are under no illusion about why they are about to die. The deaths themselves are in as horrific a way as is possible – impalement on sharpened wooden stakes and chained between two trees like a crucifixion are two methods of dispatch.

Sweden is not made to look like a wealthy country to live in. Being treated in a hospital corridor seems to be commonplace, not having enough police officers to respond to citizens who report crimes feature regularly and it seems as if every overlooked report comes back to haunt Wallander who, if he had known sooner, might have solved the major crime more quickly.

The main themes are how society breaks down when the police cannot be relied upon to solve crimes and taking the law into their own hands leads to murder, and injustice. This version of Kurt, juxtaposes the sunny photo of an  Italian holiday with the reality of Swedish weather and crime. This Kurt is forever doomed to be alone no matter how much he desires the pretty colleague who wants to spend time with him away from the office. The cause of all this sorrow is referenced in the title sequence but not explained at all in the first two episodes. Like the victims, we are being given clues in a very slow, grainy reveal.


Will he solve the crime? Of course. will he have time for himself? Cue Opera and alcohol…



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