Beginning in December, HBO is making available a handful of their best TV dramas from around the world. This includes Pakt(The Pact), a Polish crime drama in the vein of State of Play (the wonderful TV miniseries, not the film) or Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you’re a fan of smart, fast-paced contemporary thrillers, this is a must-watch.
Set in contemporary Warsaw, Pakt follows dogged journalist Piotr as his world is upended when he comes across information that seems to implement his brother, the financial director of a powerful multinational company, in a scandal. The resulting search for the truth leads to multiple deaths and corruption at the highest levels of Polish society, and tears apart Piotr’s life, career, and family.
While Pakt follows familiar thriller beats as its mystery unfolds, it is never boring and often surprising in ways that will leave you both deeply unsettled and even more invested in getting to the bottom of this mystery alongside Piotr. While Pakt never revels in its most horrific moments, it doesn’t shy away from them, either. This series is filled with heart-stopping moments of deep tragedy that start in the very first episode, leaving you deeply invested in these characters and this story.
Piotr is a stoic, yet enigmatic protagonist, one whose commitment to journalism you can’t help but admire. Pakt is deeply interested in exploring the function and failures of modern journalism, resulting in some of its most necessary and topical scenes. When Piotr’s editor asks him to give up a source, Piotr bites back: “People don’t come to us so that we hide behind them.” When Piotr is transferred from the goverment/corporate accountability beat to roads, he bitterly tells a colleague: “I finally write about issues that really matter to people.”
But Pakt isn’t just about the macro ties of society, but also the more intimate ones. While Piotr puzzles out corruption, the viewers puzzle out the stoic Piotr’s personal life. Who does he love? Who does he feel responsible for? Who feels responsible for him? What would he sacrifice for the truth? In addition to Piotr’s brother, his father, sister-in-law, nephew, and lover all play important roles in this story, providing a more intimate framework for these high-stakes events to play out within—one that is not unrelated to the larger corporate mystery.
With two seasons of six episodes each, Pakt is a mystery worth solving.
Other international series on offer on HBOGO HBONOW and HBO On Demand starting December 1st include: Wasteland (Czech Republic) from HBO Europe; El Hipnotizador (Brazil) and La Vida Secreta de Las Parejas (Brazil); Halfworlds (Indonesia & Thailand) and The Teenage Psychic (Taiwan) from HBO Asia.