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TV Review: Jordskott (Seasons 1 and 2)

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SYNOPSIS:

Detective Eva Thörnblad must begrudgingly return to her hometown of Silverhöjd several years after her young child disappeared from a nearby  forest lake. The child’s body was never found and therefor presumed drowned, though Eva  has always felt like there was more to what happened that day. Upon her return to the strange, small town another child goes missing from the forest and there are too many similarities to the disappearance of Eva’s own child to dismiss. Eva gets pulled into a twisting, dark path of mysteries, intriguing people and hard truths.

REVIEW:

Jordskott is a rare, creepy find, equal parts horror and wonder, that will force you to try and binge watch in one sitting. Originally this was a television series airing in Sweden on SVT and ITV Encore in the UK. In the States both seasons are available exclusively on Shudder for streaming.

Now,  imagine that Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are contemporary storytellers, you get to sit down and hear one of their tales, this story is what they would tell you.

The series starts it’s atmospheric adventure by introducing you to the story’s main character Eva Thörnblad (as played by Moa Gammel), a detective and hostage negotiator of sorts from Stockholm returning to her hometown of Silverhöjd seemingly with the intention of closing out her recently deceased father’s estate while taking a short break from the pressures of police work. As the story opens you learn that Eva continually battles the internal trauma of losing her young daughter Josefine seven years earlier. It is not long after her return “home” that both and Eva and the viewer are pulled into a series of bizarre mysteries including the disappearance of another child, the odd parasitic illness that caused her father’s death and the uncertain motives of the board running her father’s timber company Thörnblad Mineral & Cellulosa and how it all may be connected.

As the story unfolds you learn that everyone in Silverhöjd seems to have an odd story and a weird series of life events that wind together darkly yet poetically. The other two primary characters  stalwart and weary Detective Göran Wass and divorced father Detective Tom Aronsson (as played by Göran Ragnerstam and Richard Forsgren, respectively) entwine  Eva in various turns as colleagues in the police force, friends, momentary adversaries and the occasional spark of vague romantic interest while each moves forward in their own intricate story.

The three actors – Gammel, Ragnerstam and Forsgren – have a great on-screen chemistry together and each seems to understand that a finely acted performance comes from well played subtly and a total commitment to character. There are very few throw away characters (those that bog the story down with regrettable performances) with most parts being played intriguingly well. You will be happy to see recurring faces such as Ylva (played by Vanja Blomkvist), Esmerelda (Happy Jankell), Nicklas Gunarsson (Henrik Knutsson) and Dr. Pekka Koljonen (played by Johannes Brost who sadly passed away in January, 2018) across both seasons.

While Season Two takes place mainly in Stockholm you get to visit Silverhöjd inhabitants a few more times. You get more pieces of Eva, Wass and Tom’s individual stories while their on screen chemistry has not diminished during the interim two years between seasons. There are new characters which are just as intriguing as the other’s including Eva’s strange and often scary mother Agneta (Anna Bjelkerud) and the brave, lone teenager Kalem (Nuur Adam). There is no shortage of the well crafted creeping horror, velvety story telling and dark beauty running through the first season. You will be given answers in the second season that connect certain elements in the first, providing some a-ha moments, though you have to balance that with the new mysteries and intrigue that will be presented. You are never left dissatisfied even without the happiest of endings.

If you have been looking for something to watch which features genuinely strong female characters this is what you’ve been waiting for. Eva is tough but tormented, intelligent yet often scared, angry yet motherly, she is a woman who balances stoicism with raging inner trauma, she’s beautiful but realistic. Something she is not, is overtly sexual.

In fact I appreciate that, unlike most other current series, there is a total lack of “sex scenes”, they generally distract from good storytelling and the creators of Jordskott were smart enough to keep them out of the winding tale. The women of Silverhöjd drive the story, from teenagers Esmeralda and Ida Aronsson (Mira Gustafsson) who have a  more difficult and unique time coming of age than other girls, the ancient, dignified Ylva, as well as the beleaguered cop  Bahar (Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento) and bullied Maja Njyman (Nikoletta Norrby)  in Season Two.  Jordskott is a lesson in creating strong female characters while somehow avoiding every ridiculous trope which generally plagues women in other fictional stories.

Jordskott is not light viewing, there are no laughs and it weaves a complex tale that has to be kept up with to be enjoyed. Viewers are forced to explore themes like the loss of a child, mental illness, the trials of parenting, destruction of natural resources and a fair dose of blood and sickness. Yet you will be instantly pulled in by the strangely relatable characters and a story that wraps you in magic when you least expect it. The creators of this show have done a brilliant job weaving a story that runs smooth yet twists continously. At various turns you will be certain you know who the “bad guy” is while hoping for their down fall only to realize they were actually a “good guy” who needs to be saved. Maybe. Maybe they really are the bad guy. You will find yourself liking characters you are sure you are supposed to hate and cringing at characters you are sure were meant to be loved. And at no point are you ever allowed to just rest easy and enjoy the chilly beauty of Swedish forests.

A great deal of art and craft has gone into making the series, which is a large part of the joy in watching. Flashes of blazing fire and warmth are expertly contrasted against the general cold blues and grays of most scenes. Settings from hospital rooms to homes and travel trailers all come across as real and believable, nothing reads as fake or “made for tv”. The art extends well past simply viewing the series, the fictional town of Silverhöjd has a very well done, believable website as does Thörnblad Mineral & Cellulosa.
The real magic of Jordskott, however,  is that it leaves you believing  there are definitely olden forces and faerie folk deeply woven into our modern world. Without force feeding you hokey creatures, sexy witches or over dramatized occult sparkle Jordskott will make you feel like it is giving you a universal truth – that our earth is a magical place and it’s up to each of us to protect and care for it for fear of catastrophic consequences.

My only problems with the entire series are negligible and almost silly. I wish there were more cats, it maybe stereotypical in a somewhat witchy tale but it often feels like the story could do with a good cat appearance here and there – there are a few brief glimpses but not enough for my crazy cat lady tastes. Though each season does have a beautiful dog in semi important roles and there are some glorious ravens of note in Season One. I also feel like the occasional moment, and there are not many,  is rushed through. I think because through much of the series you are able to savor the talents of the cast/creators and enjoy the well paced unfolding of the the story, if scenes are rushed through or elements are explained away too quickly you are left feeling a bit cheated.

A great deal of art and craft has gone into making the series, which is a large part of the joy in watching. Flashes of blazing fire and warmth are expertly contrasted against the general cold blues and grays of most scenes. Settings from hospital rooms to homes and travel trailers all come across as real and believable, nothing reads as fake or “made for tv”. The art extends well past simply viewing the series, the fictional town of Silverhöjd has a very well done website as does Thörnblad Mineral & Cellulosa.

Whether you believe there is still ancient magic in the world, have a strong environmentalist sympathy or are into gritty cop dramas, medical mysteries, supernatural suspense, dark fairy tales or simply relish well made television there will be something in the Jordskott series for you to appreciate. And here’s to hoping for a Season Three in the not too distant future.

One comment

  1. Lizette Fransolet

    Loved the series! It lures you in and bang! It grabs you and holds you till the end!

     

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