Upon its arrival, Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude rode on a massive wave of publicity, from life-size polar bears scouring London, the constant reminder of its big-hitting cast on posters and TV spots and much more, it felt like this was to be a large scale production worthy of the fan fare generated by a show such as Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, with large portions of the show’s first run resulting in an imbalance of tones and a distinct lack of clear direction in its ongoing stories within the icy town.
Set just a few months after the events of the first series, the emergence of a headless body suddenly puts the town of Fortitude on alert while new faces make their presence felt. With past figures gone and new individuals arriving, the whole balance of power within the town shifts and more strange goings-on make this town mighty frostier than just the weather…
Having banished a large proportion of its original and impressive line-up, Fortitude‘s second season continues in its combination of Nordic crime noir, body horror in the ilk of Carpenter’s The Thing (location evidently playing a big part) and issues such as politics and the like. Continuing with the town looking to deal with the events of the first season, Season Two certainly feels like a step up from its debut season, but it still feels like there is so much potential to this show that needs to be unleashed for it to truly be a captivating and ‘must-watch’ television entity.
A show that is deliberately slow-burning can often find viewers frustrated, but with the show now established in both its setting and characters, this is where Fortitude often comes up top trumps, with the likes of Luke Treadaway, Richard Dormer and Sienna Guillory all providing powerful and often emotional performances, while the additions of familiar faces Dennis Quaid and Michelle Fairley certainly don’t hurt in adding that extra layer of interest. The issue here though is that the show is still mixed up in its overall showcasing of its unfolding storylines and it doesn’t always know exactly what it wants to be.
It can sometimes work a treat as a truly gritty crime drama, only for the body horror and somewhat out-of-this-world experience to take over at times when it isn’t necessarily required, leaving it rather jarring. Thankfully, some of the creases involving these issues have certainly been addressed after the first season but there is still so much under the bonnet that is yet to be unleashed.
It is arguable that Fortitude is a truly brilliant show under the surface but as yet the full potential really hasn’t been uncovered for the most expensive production ever from Sky. There are some truly impressive performances, a real sense of dread emanating from the brilliantly stunning setting and lots of great ideas in its storytelling, but as yet the key hasn’t turned to unlock what is being held back to make this show a true gem. Returning fans of the show will feel relieved they returned for the second slice, while newcomers may find the experience a tad uneasy, but there is still much promise for the continuation of the show.
Fortitude Season 2 is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.