Warning: contains Young Wallander finale spoilers.
Kurt Wallander’s first murder case left him disillusioned and questioning the point of it all. He’d solved the murder and identified the culprit, but was justice done? Was it hell.
After spending weeks discovering who was behind the murder of Malmo teenager Hugo Lundgren – time in which he was beaten up, stabbed, saw his best friend in Intensive Care, and lost his mentor – Wallander was left wondering if any of it had made a jot of difference. The killer was shielded by wealth and status and would likely slide out of his cuffs thanks to expensive lawyers and shady deals.
It was too much for Wallander to take. Unable to keep his emotions separate from his work, he decided he wasn’t suited to police life and quit the Malmo polisen, never to investigate again (until, that is, he returns to the job in the town of Ystad and becomes Sweden’s top detective and the star of multiple Henning Mankell crime novels, but that’s all still to come).
Wallander’s efforts in the six-part Netflix prequel series weren’t entirely in vain. He managed to save young footballer Ibrahim from a criminal life and set him back on the path out of his gang-ridden estate, to a new city and a new career. He also met and fell in love with a young woman by the name of Mona (they’re happy now, let’s let them enjoy it). And he learned valuable lessons for the future: goodness doesn’t always prevail. The world is a crooked place.
If you’re left with questions following the Young Wallander finale, we have the answers:
Who killed Hugo Lundgren?
Karl-Axel Munck, the eldest son of billionaire Leopold Munck, and brother to wealthy philanthropist Gustav Munck. Karl-Axel masterminded the brutal stunt in which 17-year-old Hugo was chained to a playground fence on Malmo’s Rosengard estate with a live grenade taped inside his mouth. Karl-Axel met asylum seeker Zemar through his brother’s charitable foundation, and coerced him into picking a drugged Hugo up from The Cube club, driving him to the estate and pulling the grenade pin. Zemar did it because Karl-Axel threatened to use his connections to deport Zemar’s pregnant girlfriend, Yara, whose life was under threat if she were to return to Afghanistan.
What happened to Zemar?
In an act of vigilante revenge for his son’s death, Zemar was shot dead by Rickard Lundgren, Hugo’s racist father while being brought in by Wallander for questioning.
What was Karl-Axel trying to achieve?
To discredit the philanthropic work of his younger brother Gustav, who’d started a charitable foundation to house Sweden’s homeless and asylum seeker population. Their father had gone against family tradition and changed his will so that Gustav would inherit the family’s vast fortune instead of his older brother. Karl-Axel sought to exploit racial tension in Malmo to encourage opposition to Gustav’s pro-immigrant work, provoking Gustav to attack his detractors, leading to bad publicity and thus a drop in share price for the family company. He wanted to undermine Gustav in the eyes of their father and the shareholders so that they would reverse the inheritance plan/remove him from power so the money would all go to him instead.
What did Karl-Axel do?
He kidnapped Hugo, a white Swedish boy, painted the Swedish flag on his face and forced an asylum seeker to publicly murder him on an estate supported by Gustav’s charitable foundation, in order to stoke racial tensions just before an anti-immigration march in Malmo. Posing as forum user ‘Whitewash’, he also leaked on a far-right internet forum the location of a church which – also with the support of his brother’s foundation – was helping illegal immigrants. Then he left a death threat on his brother’s car, to make Gustav seem like a controversial figure who shouldn’t be trusted with the family company.
When the plan didn’t have the desired effect and their father completed the inheritance paperwork, Karl-Axel saw that he had no choice but to murder Gustav. Using explosive purchased from arms dealer Eman ‘Dodo’ Dodovic, he planted a bomb on Gustav’s car, set to go off when the key fob button was pressed.
Why didn’t Gustav die in the explosion?
Because Wallander’s mentor Superintendent Hemberg ran to push him out of the way, and was killed in the process.
Why did Leopold Munck change his will?
Because he was well aware that his eldest son was a cruel psychopath. While he was alive, he could cover up Karl-Axel’s true nature, but dying from cancer, he couldn’t stomach the idea of giving his eldest son the family’s vast fortune when his younger brother was so much more deserving. Leopold and the boys’ mother knew that Karl-Axel was dangerous after he beat a school friend almost to death with a crowbar, just to see how far he could go. They used their money and influence to hush up the attack, quietly withdrawing Karl-Axel from school and making Gustav take a suspension in his place.
What happened to Ibrahim?
When Wallander’s young friend from the estate was arrested under suspicion of having killed Hugo Lundgren, the Gothenberg football contract he’d been offered was withdrawn, even though he was released without charge. In custody, he’d refused to give information about his drug-dealing gang leader Bash, for whom he worked as a lookout and runner. Wallander successfully convinced Bash to tell the police that Ibra was working for him on the night of the murder, and therefore is innocent of Hugo’s death.
Dejected about his future, and resentful of his mother Mariam for refusing to provide him with a false alibi before Bash’s intervention, Ibra joined a rival gang but then refused to complete their violent initiation test. They were about to murder him when Wallander stepped in to save him, putting his own life at risk. Bash – convinced by Wallander to help – saved them both by dispersing the rival gang members.
How did Bash make the rival gang members stand down?
By showing them a neck tattoo that advertised his affiliation with cocaine and arms dealer Eman ‘Dodo’ Dodovic, a powerful Malmo criminal kingpin in business with Karl-Axel Munck, and the man that Superintendent Hemberg spent his career trying to capture, losing his family in the process.
Did Karl-Axel get away with it?
After Hemberg and Wallander obtained Karl-Axel’s DNA sample, they found a match for it on the door handle of the Volkswagen van in which Hugo was kidnapped. They also had Hugo’s friend Isaac’s testimony about the woodland party hosted by Karl-Axel’s brother at which his dog was killed with a grenade in the same method as Hugo. The grenades used in both attacks were part of a cache of weapons smuggled into Malmo by Karl-Axel’s new shipping contact, Dodo, along with the C4 explosive used in the assassination attempt on Gustav (which killed Hemberg). Despite all this, we understand that Karl-Axel’s extreme wealth meant his lawyers successfully argued away any charges and he went free, disillusioning Wallander. Knowing that Karl-Axel was the culprit, Kurt promised him: ‘You’re going to pay for the things that you’ve done, your money won’t always be there to save you.’ Whether that’s true is for any eventual second series to tell…
Young Wallander is available to stream on Netflix now.