The latest episode of the Swedish TV version of Wallander that I’ve seen provided a very good example of balanced story-telling. By that, I mean that, in my opinion, the balance struck between the detective mystery plot and the addressing of social issues through the story was done with great skill, so that preachiness did not get in the way of the puzzle – yet the viewer was left with plenty to think about.
At the start of the screenplay, a girls’ choir is singing under the direction of a demanding woman teacher. A creepy-looking middle aged man comes in to listen. All the signs are that he is taking a close, and presumably unhealthy, interest in one or more of the teenage girls. When one of the girls, whose parents came from Iraq, is abducted, it is tempting to assume that the creepy chap is responsible. But the explanation for his behaviour, and the fate of the girl, proves to be more complicated.
The story-line touches on issues of racism and gender politics, and it would have been so easy for it to disintegrate into something worthy but tedious. But skilled writing, coupled with the excellent performances from the ensemble cast, ensures that interest never flags.
Not every episode of Wallander is as good as this one, I must admit. But I am certainly a fan, not only of Krister Henrikssen’s interpretation of the good-hearted cop, but also of the sharpness of the screenplays.