Sebastian Bergman: Review of Episode 1 (with a little word on Episode 2)

Today I managed to catch up with the first installment of the Swedish crime series Sebastian Bergman, which originally aired last Saturday on BBC4. My expectations were pretty low having viewed a dire trailer made by the German broadcaster ZDF (see my earlier comments here), but happily, ‘The Cursed One’ turned out to be a decently-made, entertaining 90 minutes of crime.

The key investigative figure, Professor Sebastian Bergman, is a renowned Swedish profiler of unpleasant disposition: he’s tetchy, uncooperative, and a serial seducer of vulnerable women. Although we find out the main reason for this behaviour, he remains a troubled and rather unlikable figure, and is nicely portrayed by the actor Rolf Lassgård (well known to Henning Mankell fans as the ‘first’ TV Wallander). 

The opening episode shows Bergman inching back into policework after an extended break, following the brutal murder of a 15-year-old boy. The investigation proceeds at a brisk pace (we work through as many suspects as in the whole of The Killing 1 by the end of the first hour), uncovering a number of suburban secrets on the way. The denouement is reasonably satisfying, although I couldn’t help but be amused at how wide of the mark Bergman’s perpetrator profiling had been. 

In sum: a good start with some potential, should the relationship between Bergman and his police colleagues be allowed to develop more. There’s a nice little twist at the end that augers well.

Update on 8 June: I’ve just caught up with Episode 2, and wasn’t quite as enamoured as many people seem to have been on Twitter. As this blog’s readers will know, I’m not a fan of serial killer narratives / misogynist violence, so points had to be taken off from the word go. In addition, the development of the plot felt wholly predictable… Would I watch more Sebastian Bergman if it came to our screens? Probably, but it won’t be at the top of my list of Saturday night treats.