Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Twenty - Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter: Lifetime, "Drugs, Corruption, Domination, Murder... Good Stuff."

I've been on a tear, lately... feeling the need to bring my time with Annika to a close, not because I'm happy to see the episode count dwindle (only one left after this), but because, with the dozens of shows I've started and skipped around in during the Couchbound Project, I need some real, tangible completion.

Lifetime is a pretty darn good penultimate moment... both for said completionism and the series as a whole.

The quality of Annika Bengtzon has fluctuated a bit over the series. Some episodes were middling-to-good and others were just "meh." Lifetime, feels like the cream of the crop, so far, in terms of production value, pacing and editing, and tense, logical, and concise writing.

It has a compelling murder/kidnapping case with a very sympathetic guest star in the form of policewoman Nina Hoffman (Ellen Mattsson) who struggles to do the right thing despite the Blue Wall of Silence. Additionally, there's a return to interesting family drama as Annika and her ex fight over custody of the children between beats of the mystery... with some tense crossover between the two.

I think what was most fascinating about the episode was the great investigative work that Annika and her colleagues produce, a trait that Lifetime shares with The Red Wolf and had pretty much been missing from the series since the pilot. Watching all the pieces begin to fall together concerning the murdered corrupt cop, a precinct chief, and their previous schemes were all great filler moments and were oddly much more enjoyable than the actual climax where Annika attempts to rescue the kidnapped child.

It's weird in that regard. I much preferred to watch the staff of Kvällspressen organize and work than the "human interest" interludes with the victim/suspect and the search drama... and, while I enjoyed the custody/stalking subplot that Annika and her children go through, it wasn't as compelling as the rundowns on the clearboard in her office.

That being said, when Annika is accosted late in the episode, I definitely felt the tension. Even as I knew that there was one more to go, I couldn't help but seize up in fear that Liza Marklund had thrown in a twist and the final episode was going to be a postmortem on her own star character.

I also like the chances the drama takes that would never fly on American television. I mean, honestly, would you ever expect to see a child wet herself in fear on a prime time procedural unless it was done off-screen and mentioned only in passing by some angry detective trying to dehumanize a suspect?

It is probably safe to say that Lifetime is my favorite episode so far.

It doesn't shy away from its messages and hangups, even if they can be a bit cliche (I mean, c'mon... "corrupt chief isolates dogooder cop chick?"). Still, I hope with a passion that the final episode, A Place In The Sun, is just as good or better.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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