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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Rewatch: The Tunnel: S01E02

The plot thickens as the killer’s patterns and motivation begin to reveal themselves, a few more supporting characters are introduced to the mix, and another dramatic murder closes the episode.

But if there’s something missing it’s a sense of urgency. No one on the police force seems to be taking the case particularly seriously, and with the exception of one scene in which a group of reporters mob Elise, there’s no understanding of how the crimes are affecting the populace on a wider scale. Apparently the killer’s video went viral, but we don’t get to see its effect on the general public or even on the supporting characters (Karl’s son thinks it’s a huge joke).
The pacing is extremely slow, with the movements of characters being monitored in great detail, whether it’s Suze Beaumont stealing prescription drugs from the nursing home, Stephen Beamount shifting an asylum seeker from one place to another, Alain Joubert being confronted at a train station, Danny Hillier getting another phone-call from the killer – all of it is intricately mapped out, and I’ve no doubt that this network of interactions and personal story-arcs will come together by the end of the series, but for now the show feels rather slow in setting up the board.
There are further insights into what makes Karl and Elise tick, though as protagonists they still remain held at arm’s length. This is only to be expected with Elise, and it’s rather fascinating to see that there's little difference in her demeanour in being forced at gunpoint to walk into an abattoir, and in soliciting a complete stranger for sex (and politely thanking him afterwards).
Karl is still a bit more of a struggle (perhaps I just have difficulty with reconciling the warm-hearted and humanist investigator that the narrative wants him to be with the womanizing clot that every else seems to be treating him as) but there’s a fun moment in which he takes Danny down a peg by asking if his new trousers are a good fit since they were the only clean ones they could find.
There is a thought-provoking moment in which Elise is confronted by a neo-Nazi on her Jewish-sounding last name. She confirms that her father’s people were Jewish, but simply states: “it means nothing to me.” It’s such an astoundingly blunt and honest rebuttal to all types of prejudice, underscoring the utter meaninglessness of names and creeds and belief-systems. How can an anti-Semitic consider Judaism a “bad” thing when the Jewish person in question honestly doesn’t care about their own heritage?
Other little moments here and there are striking: the prostitute that says “we just can’t win,” after realizing that her friend was killed in order to make a point about the apathy with which the public treats them, and the fact that despite a fairly heated argument at the dinner table with Karl, his son Adam still thanks his stepmother for the pasta she made (later we find out that he’s a vegetarian, which means that she must have designed that meal especially so that he could eat it).
Or a scene in which Elise insists to the man she’s just had sex with that she can’t sleep next to anyone, segued with Karl cuddling up to Laura in bed. And then the final act’s twist, in which we realize that Suze stealing the medication from the old woman that she attends at the nursing home (replacing it with simple paracetamol) has inadvertently saved her life, the killer having spiked the drug supply and leaving all the other residents dying or near death.
Basically, The Tunnel is so far made up of tasty chicken nuggets that are spread out on a bland dinner plate. Okay, that analogy was weird. But that’s what watching this feels like: an oddly un-suspenseful whole composed of scenes of great impact performed by talented actors. I’m definitely going to see it through to its end, but I’ll be curious to watch the original Scandinavian drama afterwards to see if there are any major differences in pacing and tone.
Hey, was that pimp Daario Naharis? The first one at least?

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