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Swedish Import 'Jordskott' is a Worthy Mash-Up
April 6, 2017  | By David Hinckley

To the casual viewer who just likes a good tense police mystery drama, the Swedish series Jordskott seems to be exactly that right up until the moment we suddenly realize it’s also a sci-fi horror story.

That’s a brilliant move by the creators of Jordskott, which becomes available to U.S. viewers Thursday through the AMC streaming service Shudder.

Because by the time the fantasy elements surface, all those viewers who ordinarily prefer real-life drama to the supernatural will have been drawn into a highly engaging tale of a police detective in search of her mysteriously missing daughter.

Swedish actress Moa Gammel plays the detective, Eva Thornblad, whose daughter Josefine (Stina Sundlof) disappeared at a lakeside picnic seven years earlier.

The official verdict was that she slipped into the water and drowned. But no body was found, and Eva has remained convinced Josefine was somehow taken.

Now Eva’s father Johan (Lars-Erik Berenett) has died, and she has returned to her hometown, which is where the fateful picnic took place.

Nominally a routine visit to wrap up her father’s estate, Eva’s return slowly becomes a dramatic onion, with complex and troubling stories surfacing as multiple layers peels away. 

It turns out Eva hadn’t spoken to her father since Josefine’s disappearance. It also turns out her father was one of the owners of a huge logging company that wielded great influence over everyone and everything in the area.

All this unfolds at a deliberate pace, as Scandinavian drama tends to do, and the skies usually remain appropriately grey. We never end up drumming our fingers, however, because Gammel makes Eva a fascinating presence.

She’s been compared to the Sarah Linden character in The Killing, probably because she’s closed, taciturn and obviously in considerable pain. She’s also very good at her job and she throws herself into it with single-minded abandon.

Back in Stockholm, where she moved years earlier to establish a life of her own, she’s in the police unit that tries to talk psychotics out of doing terrible things like killing people.

She’s still shaking off a particularly traumatic encounter with a man holding a loaded rifle when her father’s death brings her back home.

By coincidence, perhaps, another young child has just mysteriously disappeared in that area, and Eva is convinced there’s a link somewhere to Josefine’s case.

In the course of making inquiries she runs into several investigators who are working the new case. Veteran Goran Wass (Goran Ragnerstam) is skeptical about Eva’s longshot theories. The younger Tom Aronsson (Richard Forsgren) seems more open.

Meanwhile, we start becoming more aware of the simmering dramas within the town itself, many of them tied to the growing controversy over the ecological practices of Johan Thornblad’s company.

Eva seems aware of these dramas, though we get few clues in the early episodes as to exactly how much or how she feels about them.

Mostly, it’s clear; she’s focused on finding her daughter, or at least what happened to her daughter.

That mission turns out not to be simple, even before a stunning moment near the end of the first episode that could change everything.  

By that time, Jordskott will already have most viewers hooked – even if suddenly they’re looking at what could be a rather kind of onion.

[The first season of Jordskott is 10 episodes, and Shudder will release two every Thursday for five weeks. A second season is planned for release next year. The U.S. version retains the Swedish dialogue, with subtitles.]

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