Skip to main content

Arctic Circle–Shivering with Fear

Set in the Lapland region of Finland, the Finnish-German three-season thriller, Arctic Circle, Nina Kautsalo (Iina Kuustonen), is determined to solve three multiple murder cases, one in each season.  Nina is a single mom with a Down syndrome daughter, Venla, who is cared for by her devoted grandmother. Nina, in turn, is  supported by an understanding director and her police colleagues.  Besides the inevitable struggles to balance work and family, she also has to deal with Venla’s yearning to know her estranged father and also with Marita (Pihla Vittala ofDeadwind”), Nina’s psychologically lost younger sister.  Nina’s life is far from easy and the icy, unforgiving hinterland of Lapland underscores her desolation and the challenges of  daily life.

In season one, Nina confronts a sex-trafficking ring which is responsible for murdering young girls at the Russian-Finnish border.  This, of course, results in disputes about who has jurisdiction..  Adding to the brutal murders is a possible   pandemic spread by the sex-trafficked  girls and their partners. A German virologist serves as Nina’s scientific advisor helping to track the virus carried by both victims and murderers.

In season two, Nina’s long-estranged father is introduced.  We learn that he was the  coach to an Olympic-trained judo champion who was murdered.The father may be implicated.  Nina has to disentangle long-held resentment towards her father while she investigates a bizarre and sinister hunting party organized by extremely wealthy businessmen, who consider themselves above the law (echoing the classic “Eyes Wide Shut”).  

In season three, a British billionaire tech genius, channeling Elon Musk, has invented self-driving cars which will revolutionize the industry.  Problem is that a competitor is  murdering key players.  Again, Nina must analyze the data presented by a corporation intent upon concealment while she must deal with her ex-husband and her sister’s involvement with the car company.

All three seasons require Nina to master the basics of disciplines she is unfamiliar with–epidemiology, the legal system hiding corporate collusion, and the engineering models required for electric cars.  Watching Arctic Circle  the viewer learns along with her.  And watching her communicate in both Finnish and English is an additional indicator of how intelligent she is.  Nina intentionally remains  an “unthreatening” female detective, in order to pacify male superiors in other law enforcement and government agencies, both Finnish and Russian.

Highly riveting with even a romance thrown into each season! The actor, Iina Kuustonen,  is both an emotional athlete whose delicate features display a quieter register of strength and visceral tenderness for her disabled child, and a fiercely devoted mother with a psychologically lost sister. Her understated intelligence and sensitivity as a performer comes through with such technical prowess that even the English-dubbed second season can convey her communication in face and body.

Definitely worth watching.  The ending is rather predictable but the pacing of each season is a precise, challenging trail of  sleuthing that is often chilling.

Availability: Season One–Amazon Prime; Season Two (dubbed into English) and Season Three–Topic (through Apple+).

Note: Venla Ronkainen plays the little girl, Venla, in Arctic Circle and has Down syndrome.

Subscribe to my Newsletter

* indicates required
Jun0 Posts
Jul0 Posts
Aug0 Posts
Sep0 Posts
Oct0 Posts
Nov0 Posts
Dec0 Posts
Jan0 Posts
Feb0 Posts
Mar0 Posts
Apr0 Posts
May0 Posts
Jun0 Posts
Jul0 Posts
Aug0 Posts
Sep0 Posts
Oct0 Posts