Series Review

Review | Midnight Sun – Season 1

After a murder is committed in the far north of Sweden, the French detective Kahina Zadi is called in to solve the case with the Swedish police. The murder on the French citizen appears to be the beginning of a series related murders. The Swedish population the Sami, seems to know more about it. Or is it a matter of the French government?

Distributor Lumière once again comes with a crime drama set in Scandinavian territory. The Swedish / French series Midnight Sun has been given the title as the series takes place in the summer period when the sun barely sets. The directors duo Måns Marlind and Björn Stein have directed and written all eight episode. They have also co-written the script of the Danish / Swedish drama The Bridge and its American counterpart. The protagonists are played by the French Leila Bekhti and Swedish Gustaf Hammarsten, who form the detective duo Kahina and Anders. In total they speak three languages: French, Swedish and English. The performance of both actors  is less strong when they speak in the English language. In the first episode, we see an old acquaintance: Peter Stormare, you may know from Prison Break.

As we can expect from a Scandinavian crime series, Midnight Sun is mysterious, the murders are quite lurid and the background of the series is an impressive location. Unfortunately the characters and the plot of Midnight Sun are less well explored. Midnight Sun tries to follow the well-known concept of other series: the mysterious story lines with characters you don’t know how they will fit in the story and if they have a connection, and to what extent, with the murders and a detective with personal problems. But all these good aspects doesn’t work to get a good result for this series. o short to get a good result. Yes , there is a mystery surrounding the questions who, what and why, but is is not well reflected. The story has too many loose and indistinct ends, and the characters are not interesting enough to evoke feelings.

The French detective Kahina Zedi became a mother at the age of 16, however her mother decided to raise the child as her own. This made Kahina decide to leave her family. Now, years later when the child has grown up, he seeks for his mother. At the same moment Kahina’s boss calls her about the murder in Sweden, and she leaves again. There are moments Kahina doesn’t look stable, but the series never pays much attention to her personal issues. Swedish single father Anders Harnesk is a prosecutor but doesn’t have the skills for this function and to lead the police corps. He comes across as a softy who wouldn’t get any results the help of Kahina. Since these characters are not well explored, you don’t get a ‘bond’ with the two protagonists.

Of course there are multiple smaller roles. But none of them makes an extraordinary impression. The Swedish village where the series is set is Kiruna, whereof the mine is biggest source. A few men who work here share a common history as well. A history which is the basis of the horror that is happening. Opposite these men in the mine are the Sami, a minority group in Sweden who are discriminated and linked to the murders. The story about the Sami is quite fascinating and could have been more explored. A character who is very interesting for the story is Alain Gruard (Oliver Gourmet) who has a hidden agenda and desperately wants to know who is responsible for murder on the French citizen. Or is the ‘why’ question more important? Gruard is a very mysterious character and makes the series more exciting. However, his storyline ends quite abrupt and therefore you still don’t exactly know who he was and why he did the things he did. A character who also disappears from the script very sudden is helicopter pilot Thor (Richard Ulfsåter). In the beginning he was very forthcoming which was almost annoying. Where Kahina was, Thor was as well, which made you wonder what he is up to.

Overall the series is noy all that bad. The final two episodes are really exciting which keeps your eyes on the screen. These episodes make you understand a lot more about all that had happened. It also gets a lot more personal for the two detectives when their children get involved as well. As we can expect from a Scandinavian, the landscape looks gorgeous and in this series even more since the sun is always there. 

Midnight Sun is not the best Scandinavian series I’ve seen. It tries to follow the familiar concept of the mystery, the interesting characters and the well-meant confusion. Unfortunately the series is overall quite confusing and the characters stay too flat and are not much explored. Therefore you don’t bond with them, which is a shame because there are some quite interesting characters if explored deeper. The French / Swedish detective duo Kahina Zadi and Anders Harnesk is not running smoothly, and furthermore they are not credible when they don’t speak in their own language. Overall Midnight Sun is a mediocre series with several loose ends.

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