Finally we’re somewhere, says Tony Fyler.
It’s been an insanely long, hard slog, but just before it packs up its snow shoes and goes home, Fortitude’s arrived Somewhere Rather Interesting.
First of all, we now know how Billy Pettigrew ended up dead, and we know whether or not it had anything to do with ground-penetrating radar, ice hotels and that big bloomin’ mammoth.
On our scorecard of Things To Give A Toss About in Fortitude, that’s a big tick. Done, dusted, next!
We now know what happened to DCI Morton after his confrontation with Henry Tyson. That wasn’t so much on the scorecard, but it provokes an emotional reaction at least.
Much more to the point, we know the answer to a crucial question that’s been bugging us all the way through – if you want to defrost a deep frozen dog, apparently, the best way to do it is with a hair dryer.
After the big, less sarcastic revelation at the end of the episode though, we have to wonder about the numerical balance in the final episode. If what happened to Dr Allerdyce is also potentially going to happen to Liam Sutter and Jason Donelly, who has rather disconcertingly taken to sleeping alongside the mammoth, then Fortitude could soon become a Romero-style Town of the Living Dead. Well, the Living Dead and the Actually, Positively Dead.
Between the Morton encounter, the Pettigrew backstory, the reheating of canine leftovers and the ending, there was quite a lot of meat in episode ten, which made it one of the more watchable episodes, but aside from the high points, there were other probably-important moments too – Liam Sutter shuddering and muttering while clutching the totem filled with Henry Tyson’s blood, all the way through a visit by Carrie Morgan, while she talks normally. There’s a brulee-brittle moment between Jules Sutter and Elena during the same visit, with Jessica Raine actually delivering something new – adding a slablike menace to some fairly ordinary words, which just for a moment make you wonder whether she might not go all posh-girl berserker on the long-ago murderess. It’s a scene which is made all the more awkward by the arrival of fist-clenching Frank, the husband who cheated on Jules with Elena on the night his son went to visit Professor Stoddart.
There was a secular confession to, and a new sense of unity between Sheriff Andersson and Elena, as their pasts build them a bridge that in all likelihood, neither of them expected.
What’s perhaps more relevant going forward to the end, the Russians are back – especially the one who’s part of a team with a fairly homicidal vibe. They’ve up and nicked a Big Drill (love a big drill), with which presumably to excavate the mammoth’s graveyard and sell the bones for squillions in hard currency. If, as begins to seem likely (unless it’s a mammoth red herring), there’s a direct link between the mammoth that was excavated and the contagion of Fortitude, that could be fun in an apocalyptic, end of the world style.
Which leaves us with the most bizarre sensation. Having slogged through ten hard episodes of glacial grimness in a town where being a nice human being feels like it’s against the law (and certainly doesn’t do anything good for your life expectancy), we’re… we’re… we’re actually looking forward to episode eleven. Yes, granted, part of that is down to the prospect of seeing a lot more people on the wretched island meet with gruesome, ignominious fates. But more than that, after a great deal of moody filler, Fortitude has finally arrived at a point where something has both happened and made a kind of sense. It’s taken eleven hours to reach the point that could have been achieved after two or three hours of more tightly written, less ponderously tangential scripting, but it has at least finally got there. Now, within sight of the end, it’s started to become something that commands interest in its next episode, in where the things revealed in this episode will go, and how they will pay off.
This should have been episode three of a four or, at a push, five-part series – Sky Atlantic would have saved itself a fortune and the drama would have been tighter, more compelling, and more ultimately memorable as a result. But for what it’s worth, go ahead, Sky Atlantic - bring on the denouement!
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