This review contains spoilers
‘It doesn’t matter what I believe’, says Henry Tyson, even as Tavrani continues preparing the tupilaq, ‘people need myths and stories’. Yes Henry, yes they do. Stories are neat. They’re a comfort. They tell us that there’s a beginning, an end and maybe even a baddie and a goodie. We understand stories which is why we make them up when understanding itself proves too difficult. There are several stories on offer in this week’s episode of Fortitude, each offering different levels of comfort but none of which come anywhere close to the truth.
We only need look at the enthusiasm with which Frank seizes upon the news of Dr Allerdyce’s attack to see how much comfort can be drawn from the bleakest of situations, as long as some semblance of narrative can be drawn from it. The obvious, albeit shallow, inference that a man in Frank’s position would take is that a repetition of the crime while Liam is indisposed is proof that the boy is innocent. It’s a colossal relief, evident in the animated manner with which the father responds. His resting tendency is to brooding sullenness (it is unclear at this stage whether his attitude operates as cause or effect in his marital problems, though given his treatment of Elena, I’d suspect the former) but he finally came alive now that there’s something to celebrate and someone to hit. It was a relief to see some genuine flicker of emotion from him, even if he ended up directing it poorly.
Had we not witnessed Allerdyce’s assault for ourselves, I’d expect that we’d be cheering Frank on, even if we didn’t really want to admit it. Markus, as I have noted before, is an extremely difficult character to generate any sympathy for. He is creepy, gossipy, arrogant and, let’s be honest, an abusive partner. But a killer? No. Not of humans and not in this instance. Even so, it makes sense to pin the blame on him here. The motive is easy enough to come by -it’s plausible to imagine fractious exchanges between him and Allerdyce and she, as we all know, is not a person with whom it’s easy to get along. With access to the house he also had the opportunity. And isn’t there just something off with him? Taken together, it’s story enough for Frank, and for Morton and Anderssen who, while not fully endorsing the burglary of evidence, are more than happy to use it in their interrogation.
If not Markus, then a Russian perhaps? It’s another convenient story, and, to the embattled residents, if it feels like they could be capable, then they probably are. Markus’ may offer a sense of creeping dread in a single person but this feeling is by no means limited in scope and the mounting tension evident at the miners’ kangaroo court and at the hastily-arranged town meeting offered proof of the depth of feeling and the utter powerlessness that the townsfolk are now experiencing.
It’s a feeling that paradoxically unites and divides. The ease with which the miners could rouse themselves into an angry mob was instructive, as was the insistence of relative newcomer Jules’ that the spate of violent attacks just ‘isn’t Fortitude’. What makes her so sure? There’s a large reservoir of anger for a town that was, so famously, free of violent crime. Or was it simply that if Hildur and her confederates repeated it often enough that it felt true. It’s stories again, and what could be more comforting than a story that tells you that you’re perfectly safe?
Maybe nostalgia. Just look at the expression of warm relief on Ronnie’s face as he gazes at the projected images of his wife in happier times. It’s probably a comfort for him to be indoors at all after everything he’s been through, but the film serves adds a nice distraction to whatever malevolence struck him down.
Ronnie’s attack parallels that of Markus by Frank. They both occurred in a place of relative safety and in both cases a distraction was created that led the victim into a trap. They were also, appropriately for the current mood of the show, necessarily violent. Who has been after Ronnie? The mystery remains. At least we have a clue as to the purpose of Markus’ beating. For Frank, it was partly a punishment but mostly a handy excuse to unleash a battery of feelings that had been brewing since long before he had even reached Fortitude. Jules’ question, ’who are you really trying to get off the hook?’ was a laser-guided criticism that suggested that there was more to all this than the question of Liam. Markus, with his proximity to the case and his utter lack of likability, was the perfect outlet for this rage, no matter that he wasn’t really involved. Because who needs truth when you have stories?
Read Michael’s review of the previous episode, here
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