If asked to provide a single word to summarise the BBC 4 Swedish crime-drama series, Modus, ‘vexatious’ immediately comes to mind. Modus’ second series concerns the disappearance of U.S. President Helen Tyler (Kim Cattrall) during her first state visit to Sweden. Though residing in an ‘unknown’ location, the President still manages to slip away in the dead of night through a hidden tunnel underground. However, whether this disappearance was voluntary or not is currently unknown.
Leading the Swedish police investigation are Inger Johanne (Melinda Kinnaman) and Ingvar Nyman (Hekrik Norlén), both central characters from Series One. The two are expecting a baby together when the investigation begins. But their relationship is put under more pressure when a figure from Inger’s past re-emerges, FBI agent Warren Schifford (Greg Wise). We are initially led to understand that Inger and Warren share a troublesome past, with flashbacks implying that the two were once lovers, and that their relationship ended when he assaulted her whilst she was training with the FBI. Four years later, these three characters attempt to put the past behind them for the sake of the case, although this appears to be easier said than done.
There are handful of scenes that are physically frustrating for the viewer to sit and watch. These infuriating moments trigger a wave of adrenaline within the viewer, leaving them impatient to know what will come next. Strange as it may be, the most enrapturing element of the show is, without a doubt, its ‘villain’. Greg Wise’s sinister portrayal of Schifford is simply unmatched in terms of stage presence. His interactions with the show’s female characters are truly disturbing to witness. He leers smugly, as if in full-knowledge of his own intimidation, so much so that the idea of any physical contact with him is enough to make the viewer wince.
Though presented as the show’s central character, the audience may struggle to feel any attachment or empathy towards Inger. She is uncharismatic and even robotic in the majority of her scenes, making it difficult to get a true understanding of her emotions, even when she is menacingly confronted by Warren.
The soundtrack perfectly complements the chilling premise of the show, and particularly the heart-beat like drumming and often frightening violin instrumentals certainly compliment Warren’s most unnerving scenes.
Overall, it is not the thrilling (yet sometimes far-fetched) political plotline of Modus that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. It is the perplexing relationships between the characters themselves which make the show so stimulating. Modus is an enthralling psychological thriller which is certain to keep even the keenest of crime-drama fans contented.
Image: Johan Paulin via BBC Pictures / Miso Film 2017