And now people are dying again and what the fuck are they doing about it”
Series 1 of Fortitude was one of those genuinely unexpected dramas which unveiled its genre-spanning ways with some proper jaw-dropping moments, so Sky Atlantic’s decision to commission a second series wasn’t entirely unexpected (though you do wonder what viewing figures are like over there). Though having revealed itself as a sci-fi/horror/psychological thriller/serial killer murder mystery with political and environmental themes thrown in for a good measure, creator Simon Donald was faced with a decision about which way to go to continue the story.
Or, as it turned out, he didn’t make the decision but rather decided to pursue them all once again. And as is proving a recurring theme with shows I’ve been catching up on (Fearless, The Halcyon), the desire to develop multi-stranded complex dramas falls short once again with the writing ending up serving a jack of all trades and master of none. There’s just so much going on in so many of the episodes that it becomes increasingly hard to keep track of exactly what is what, who knows what, who is doing what to whom, and where we are in any of the stories.
My brief thoughts on episode 1 can be found here, the series did actually turn out to be more of a continuation of the events of the first season than I first thought, the big cast turnover meaning that the number of fresh faces was a bit of misdirection. And actually, the strongest story threads actually came with the survivors of those momentous events dealing with the aftermath – Luke Treadaway and Sienna Guillory playing out Vincent and Natalie’s contrasting experiences, Sofie Gråbøl’s governor’s grip on power slipping slowly but surely along with her relationship to the delectable Björn Hlynur Haraldsson.
Of the newcomers, Parminder Nagra’s Dr Khatri was superbly chilling as someone who always knew more than the average resident, and Dennis Quaid’s thoroughly decent Michael was a strong lynchpin (although I wish Michelle Fairley as his wife Freya had a more active role to complement the action). But the increasing reliance on blood and gore had seriously diminishing returns, you know you’re in trouble when people are being killed every episode and you can’t remember who they are. Death loses its power with such frequency and unfortunately, so too does Fortitude.