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'Blinded,' a Drama of Love, Money, and Love of Money
July 2, 2020  | By David Hinckley

If Billions has whetted your appetite for a soapy mystery about shady dealings in the usually impenetrable world of high finance, the Swedish drama (with subtitles) Blinded could provide another eight hours of viewing pleasure.

Blinded, whose eight episodes are now available on the streaming service Sundance Now, has the familiar mix of personal and professional conduct that everyone knows is marginal, and no one seems able to stop.

Peder Rooth (Matias Varela, top) runs ST Bank, the most profitable niche bank in Scandinavia. He seems to have it all: a loyal staff of the top people in the field, a close friend and colleague, Henrik (Oskar Thunberg), who appears to be a genius on the nuts and bolts of risk management, a loving and supportive wife, and two children on whom he absolutely dotes.

He’s the kind of corporate big shot who jumps on the bed to playfully wrestle with the kids before they go to school.

So he comes off on the surface as a bit more grounded than Bobby Axelrod (the wealthy, self-made, financial hustler on Billions played by Damian Lewis), which may account for the fact Peder seems to have slightly less money. He is not, however, clipping coupons. When he gets a visit from the guy who sells convertible notes to bank execs at, wink wink, a big discount, Peder tells him, he doesn’t need any at the moment.

This puzzles the salesman. More to the point, it suggests that all may not be quite what it looks with Peder. Since when does having too much money mean you don’t want even more money?

We do get hints that something is up with the bank, that its widely admired profitability may rest on a shaky foundation. This is where it probably helps viewers to know something about banking investments and risk and all that stuff, but as with the convertible notes, it’s enough to know this is a means of making money that is available only to people who already have a lot of money.

Equally important to the story, and much more interesting as drama, Peder has something going on the side.

He’s seeing Bea Farkas (Julia Ragnarsson, top), a young woman who knows she shouldn’t be fooling with a married man, but can’t help herself because, among other things, he has assured her he will be leaving his wife.

Yeah, they always do that, right?

What makes this inadvisable affair special is that Bea works as a reporter for a financial journal, meaning it’s her job to cover things like the banking industry.

And sure enough, her boss, Anders (Johan H:Son Kjellgren), assigns her to cover a quarterly report conference for ST Bank. She can’t refuse, of course, so she interviews Peder on camera and turns out to be the only reporter who raises any questions about what might lie behind the bank’s glowing financial statement.

This earns her reprimands from Anders, Peder, and her grandmother, who tells her she’s nuts to be dating a married guy.

Anyhow, all this sets up the dynamic for Blinded, which naturally becomes tenser and tenser as things start to unravel all around.

Based on the novel by Carolina Neurath, the show weaves its ages-old cautionary tale into a complex yet comprehensible story about financial chicanery and the danger in building houses of cards.

Ragnarsson stands out in a strong cast, ensuring that Blinded doesn’t run only on testosterone.

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