Stick a fork in me, I’m done, says Tony Fyler.
If you’ve watched any episodes of Fortitude up to now, you’ve probably thought they were a bit freaky and creepy and altogether weird.
You might want to put on your crash helmet and strap yourself in for this one.
Episode six has its usual mix of people shouting at each other, people being quietly monstrous to each other, snow, ice and unutterable, soul-sucking grimness, to be sure – more revelations about the connection between Eric Odegard, the Governor’s cop husband, and Trish Stoddart, widow of the murdered professor, are a particular punch in the stomach, while the continuing testosterone battle between Sheriff Anderssen and Search & Rescue man Frank Sutter for the attention of Spanish psycho Elena reaches yet another in what is becoming a tedious series of peaks.
Stoddart’s predecessor in terms of being killed in bizarre circumstances, Billy Pettigrew, has been much discussed in the first five episodes, and is seen here in flashback, highlighting once again the point in which we lost interest some considerable time ago – who killed him and how?
Henry Tyson, still played by Michael Gambon as if by transatlantic trunk call in 1965 having come straight out of a Samuel Beckett play, spends most of the episode siphoning off a big jam jar of his own blood for supernatural purposes. As ya do. And creepazoid teacher Markus Huseklepp continues the slow, icky business of artificially inflating his girlfriend Shirley Allerdyce, bringing a funnel, a tube and a can of condensed milk to the party.
There’s less from Stanley Tucci’s ice-dry DCI Morton in this episode, his signature conversation this time being conducted at gunpoint with the character who, to be fair, has spent most of the past five episodes being ‘that Russian nutter who swans about the town like Viggo Mortensen channelling the Kurgan,’ but whose name is actually Yuri Lubimov, and who Pettigrew showed his ground-penetrating radar analysis, proving… something, for which Morton thinks both he and Stoddart were probably killed, as the results most likely stood in the way of the building of a new ice hotel on the site of a now-defunct mine. Except that last week, we ‘saw’ the supposed killer at least strike the blow which made the killing possible, and it was less to do with local politics or who was having an affair with whom than it was to do with probably mammoth-juice-inspired vaguely supernatural psycho-nutcaseness. The supposedness of this hypothesis was rather burned away by the last five minutes of this week’s episode. Full-on, camera-not-turned-away vaguely supernatural psycho-nutcaseness happens in those last minutes, and if you haven’t got a strong stomach for video nastiness or gorenography, you’d be advised not to watch this episode while eating dinner (I was halfway through a chicken makhani. Just saying – that’s a tenner and five minutes I’ll never get back, damn you, Fortitude!). The slightly odd thing about this ending is that we predicted it here on WarpedFactor, due to exposure to mammoth-based dribbling horridness. What that also means is we’re growing increasingly concerned for ten year-old Carrie Morgan, abducted from home by her apparently psychotic father Ronnie – who sawed off the tusks of the ancient mastodon during their escape and has been mysteriously ‘wounded’ ever since. The fact that for the third week running no-one seems to give a toss about finding the girl, despite having spent the whole of a previous episode looking for her, practically punctures the reality of the drama – as does the creep-out ending of episode six. The weird vaguely supernatural psycho-nutcaseness of that ending blots out everything else – including a very deeply disturbing photo developed by Tyson earlier in the episode. We understand that the production team is going full-on Twin Peaks, and that the psycho-nutcaseness is in ascendency in Fortitude, but almost by default that means that the scientific malarkey with the radar picture, and the question of the ice hotel and the mine closure, let alone who’s having positively polar sex with whom and whether anyone’s enjoying themselves at all fade into the irrelevance of background. For some, this will be an excellent development, but for others – and arguably for Fortitude’s chief audience demographic - it will both have been too much, and have detracted from the reasons they were sticking with the increasingly bizarre and thoroughly joyless affair.
By the time Fortitude is over, you’ll have watched something in the region of twelve hours of polar grimness. That’s a whole half-day. You could watch most of the very best Star Trek ever filmed in that time, or at least three of the very best Doctor Whos. You could do an Alien box set, get yourself a good grounding in Game of Thrones or watch almost all of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (extended edition with the fan-club credits and more endings than it knew what to do with). The thing you really have to ask yourself by the end of episode six of Fortitude is not ‘Do you feel lucky?’ – you don’t, you’re seven hours in – but whether, in this age of endless entertainment, streamed delight and almost infinite push-button scope, Fortitude deserves the luxury of your eyeballs, just because Sky Atlantic spent a fortune on it and it stars some of the best actors on TV. Does it deserve your attention, and your mental energy, and your dedication for half a day of your life that you’ll never get back?
Next week on WarpedFactor – episode seven, subtitled Just Freakin’ Kill Everyone Already, Ya Big Mammoth!
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk