Fortitude episode 8 review

Will there, ultimately, be a rational explanation for everything that has been happening in Fortitude? Here's our review of episode 8...

This review contains spoilers

‘That man would never have done what you’ve done. You’re not my man any more. He’s gone.’ Hildur’s cold accusation to Erik was one of those neat little statements that fit a single scene perfectly but, examined in a wider context, betray some of a drama’s larger issues. Here, she was talking about his infidelity (or at least that’s what we’re currently encouraged to expect) but chose to use language that could describe any number of characters at this stage in proceedings.

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The condition of people acting outside their ordinary patterns of behaviour is a recurrent one in Fortitude, whether it causes them to stray from their spouses or carry out acts of savagery. It’s little more than a verbal hint, but it brought the Hildur/Erik storyline a little closer to the centre of the action than it had previously been. Once the town’s dark occurrences had put the brakes on Hildur’s cherished ice hotel there was little room in her heart for forgiveness and it’s tempting to see her marital breakdown as an extension of this crucial disappointment. Her private tears, a release of emotion far from prying eyes, may have been more for the troubles that have been wrought on her vanity project than for the loss of the Erik that she had once known. Perhaps she can’t even decide herself. If she, like Morton, is looking for ’satisfying answers to outstanding questions’, she is likely to be disappointed.

She may not be the only one. The quest of science is to find such answers and in this, the most demonstrably scientific episode yet, this pursuit was more evident than it has ever been. The autopsies on the foetus, then the bear, then the late Miss Allerdyce offers a clinical gruesomeness that was only partly related to the vicious bloodletting that has become one of the hallmarks of the show. In its way, this careful slicing of flesh and the thoughtful measuring and examining offered a patient answer to the frenzied operations that prompted them. The processes employed by Natalie and Vincent were presented in slow, progressive detail and emphasised their methodical approach. Answers? They had some – the presence of toxins, the alteration of behaviour, the condition of being an apex predator – but no satisfying ones as yet. 

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It is some comfort, perhaps, to think that there may ultimately be a rational explanation for everything that has been happening here, from the Liam/Shirley incidents to the death of Billy Pettigrew to the hermaphroditism, and that there may be one prime cause on which we can lay the blame. If that means subjecting young Liam to a lumbar puncture, an invasive, ‘possibly unethical’ procedure, then we might be forgiven for going along with it, particularly if it proves that he and Shirley were, like Erik, acting outside the ordinary. 

It’s also a comfort to see some characters behaving entirely as we expect them to. Morton is as softly professional as ever, following his chain of evidence through the gun shop and back to Dan, whose stories about the night that Pettigrew died are starting to fall apart. Henry Tyson’s decision to wander off to his death now that his work with the tupilaq is (as far as he knows) complete is in keeping with his singular nature. It’s difficult to know at this stage just what relationship Tyson has to the rest of the goings-on (other than that he’s somehow involved in all of them) or indeed what his presence, or lack of it, will do for the remaining narrative. 

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His work will have resonance with or without him. We may have been in a science-heavy episode bt there’s something definitely spooky about that tupilaq. It’s in the way that the camera lingered on it and also in the violent emotion that something so silent can generate. 

Mind you, Frank’s hardly a big talker and he’s pretty capable of generating violent emotion, though he may also be considered to be acting out of the ordinary himself. Jules’ dark remonstration that the situation is his fault matched her previous comments that he’s seeking some kind of redemption. I had taken this to mean his single abandonment of Liam but there’s an inescapable suspicion that something deeper is going on in the Sutter household. It’s partly the result of the emotional remoteness of all three Sutters, as though they are dealing with the aftermath of some terrible occurrence (possibly linked to Frank’s discharge from the army) and partly the evidence of Frank’s current bloodthirsty desperation. His torture of the hapless Markus was too calculated, too drawn-out to be the actions of a man acting in the white heat of anger. He’d put some thought into this. Or maybe he’s done it before? Certainly Jules’ reaction, though horrified, was too muted to be those of a woman who has just discovered that her husband has creative uses for power tools. If Frank’s behaviour is out of character, then it may have been so for some time. How long does it take for the extraordinary to become ordinary?

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Read Michael’s review of the previous episode, here.