If you like “Fargo” and need something to get you through until it returns for Season 3 on April 19, Screener would like to recommend you check out “Fortitude” on Amazon.
The first season of this Sky Atlantic show out of the United Kingdom aired in the U.S. on Pivot, a channel that sadly is no more — RIP, Pivot — But Amazon swooped in to bring the second season to American audiences — and we’re here to tell you this chilly psychological mystery series is a gem waiting to be found.
“Fortitude” takes place in the fictional, titular town in Arctic Norway, a settlement populated by less than 800 citizens and lit up at night by the glorious Aurora Borealis. But, much like “Fargo,” beneath the fur-lined coats and Arctic tundra lie murders and mysteries galore.
The show seems like a crime drama at first glance — and there are crimes at the heart of the story — but it goes much deeper than that, becoming a gripping psychological thriller, exploring the various characters’ relationships with one another in this seemingly quiet town.
It also may seem like there is a supernatural element to the goings on in Fortitude, but don’t let that turn you off. All will be explained in due time — “Fortitude” does offer answers, but they come at a calculated pace throughout the season.
If you’d like to start from the beginning, Season 1 is currently available in its entirety on Amazon Prime. Season 2, which welcomes new stars Dennis Quaid (“The Art of More”) and Michelle Fairley (“Game of Thrones,” “The White Princess”), drops Friday, April 14 — and from what we’ve seen so far, it hasn’t missed a beat from the compelling first season.
If you would prefer to skip ahead right to Season 2, or if you need a refresher (because “Fortitude” hasn’t aired in the U.S. in nearly two years), read on to find out where the show left off — but be warned of spoilers if you haven’t seen Season 1.
When we last left Fortitude, the culprit behind the mysterious illnesses and deaths was revealed to be the sleeping larvae of the ichneumon wasps, released from the 30,000-year-old mammoth carcasses that were thawing under the Arctic terrain. Sheriff Dan (Richard Dormer) was forced to shoot Elena (Veronica Echegui), the woman he loved, because she was succumbing to the virus, though it was shown later that she lived and was being treated in the hospital.
Scientists Vincent (Luke Treadaway) and Natalie (Sienna Guillory) managed to survive the wasp swarm, incinerating them at the hospital with some “MacGyver” manuevers — and the house where Ronnie (Johnny Harris) holed up, wasting away from the virus, was likewise burned to the ground.
Governor Odegard (Sofia Grabol) was reunited with her husband, Sgt. Eric (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) after he returned from tracking down Max (Michael Obiora) and Yuri (Emil Hostina) on the glacier, stopping them from recovering more mammoth carcasses from the subterranean graveyard.
And Chief Inspector Morton (Stanley Tucci), whose summons from London to investigate the mysterious deaths kicked “Fortitude” off, is no more, having been shot on the glacier by Henry Tyson (Michael Gambon) after confronting him with evidence that Henry killed geologist Billy Pettigrew (Tam Dean Burn) — though Dan also played a big part in Pettigrew’s death.
When “Fortitude” Season 2 picks up, familiar faces Vincent, Natalie, Hildur and Eric Odegard, and Constables Ingrid (Mia Jexen) and Petra (Alexandra Moen) are still there, holding their little iceberg together. And Sheriff Dan eventually turns up, a bit worse for the wear from the last time we saw him…
“Fortitude” returns Friday, April 19 on Amazon Prime.