It would be presumptuous yet not totally untrue to say Amazon’s Fortitude resembles Fargo without the laughs.
The second season of Fortitude, a British production that becomes available Friday on the Amazon Prime streaming service, actually calls Fargo to mind in a couple of ways.
Strange things happen, the characters sometimes feel stylized, and everything outdoors looks really, really cold.
But Fortitude has its own kind of strangeness, along with a hard-core small-town crime story flavored by a hint of sci-fi.
Fortitude itself is a fictional Arctic town with 713 residents and four police officers.
It is seemingly anchored by a research facility, which might seem to explain why a town exists at all in this frigid wilderness, except the town otherwise seems curiously rather normal.
There are restaurants, bars, a grocery store with some empty shelves and at least a few job opportunities.
Michael Lennox (Dennis Quaid, top and above) runs a commercial fishing boat, and one of the first big developments of Season 2 is that Michael thinks he’s about to score an incredibly lucrative catch. While there are some legality issues, they do not seem to trouble him.
The bigger concern in Fortitude at the moment is the discovery of a headless corpse. Amazing how many sordid crimes are committed in really small towns.
This sends constables Ingrid (Mia Jexen, below) and Petra (Alexandra Moen, below) out on the trail to first identify the vic and then find the perp.
They put on their best professional game faces, though this is clearly a little above their pay grade.
Trouble is, there’s a departmental situation here. Sheriff Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer, above with Quaid) went a little crazy after shooting his girlfriend – well, okay, maybe he also went a little crazy before shooting his girlfriend – and he disappeared into the cold darkness.
Deputy Eric Odegard (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson) went out looking for Dan, and now he’s missing, too – to the chagrin of, among others, his wife Hildur (Sofie Grabol), who is also the governor of Fortitude.
Hildur could also be in trouble now that the crime rate is spiking because she has to deal with the everyday problems of an isolated Arctic village, like exactly how you distribute resources such as fuel.
The sci-fi part largely plays out through biological threats, which we see in flashes at the research center.
The character dramas are familiar, including love stories, marital tension and of course the threat of fatal illness hanging over at least one sympathetic head.
Some of the residents also exhibit the kind of quirks that seem to pop up regularly in small-town shows like Fargo and Twin Peaks.
While Fortitude developed its first set of backstories in Season 1, it’s not difficult for viewers to pick up the story cold at the start of Season 2.
Cold is definitely the watchword for all things Fortitude.