Review: Wallander (Episode 5 – The Man Who Smiled – BBC)


Opening with a near monochrome landscape – an old man is driving through desolate terrain. He stops at what appears to be a hooded figure on a deserted road.

Next it cuts to Wallander who is living alone in a B&B on the coast. Addicted to prescription drugs, he’s struggling to come to terms with the man he killed last time. He’s left the police and cut himself off from his old life.

He then has a visitor who comes out to him on the beach. It appears to be an old friend, asking for help. His father was murdered (the old guy driving up the mountain). Wallander says no, he’s not ready; he can’t help.

At last Wallander returns to Ystad, making his way to the police station. Confused and awkward, the commander spots him. They chat and he learns that the guy coming to seek help from him is now dead, like his father. Wallander decides it’s time to return to policing.

This is a slow episode, plot-wise. It’s much more focused on Wallander and his deterioration than it is on the murders. Wallander visits his father who is now in a care home. His daughter Linda is also there. He hasn’t seen his family for a long time (we don’t know how long). The dysfunctional relationship he has with his family is brought into sharp relief.

The plot line then gets back on track. It transpires that it’s about the illicit sale of body parts. Plot-wise this isn’t a strong episode but that doesn’t detract from the drama itself which is very good and I’m still thoroughly enjoying it.

Overview of Wallander on the BBC

The one to watch: Wallander (BBC1 / Kenneth Branagh)


UPDATED: Review of Faceless Killers here.

Early last year the BBC aired three film length episodes of Swedish crime drama Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh as Swedish detective Kurt Wallander. It was very, very good as I said at the time. And this said from someone who rarely watches crime drama.

The cinematography was especially good and I really enjoyed the very dark plot lines. In short, it was ‘must watch’ TV for me.

So I’m very pleased to see that the BBC have made 3 more feature length episodes, the first of which starts tonight on BBC1 at 9pm.


Sunday 03 January
9:00pm – 10:30pmBBC1

1/3 – Faceless Killers

Wheat fields wave in the breeze, a frenzied stallion gallops down a dark road and an unhappy Swedish detective stares bleary-eyed into the bleak middle distance, his soul lost in torment. Yes, it could only be Ingmar Bergman meets Midsomer Murders – Wallander. After a brief, Bafta-winning series last year, Kurt Wallander (a mesmerising Kenneth Branagh) returns, still dishevelled, unshaven and a little grubby, in another polished adaptation of a Henning Mankell story. In Faceless Killers, Wallander is called to a remote farmhouse where an elderly couple have been tortured and murdered. With her dying breath the woman whispers a word loaded with significance; if it gets out, it could have fearful repercussions for Sweden’s delicate race relations. As tensions simmer, Wallander has personal matters to attend to. His ailing father (brilliant David Warner) is in the grip of dementia and needs constant care, and Wallander’s wet daughter has a new boyfriend he’s not keen on. It’s gripping stuff, even though Wallander’s constant striving to invest every single frame of film with significance can be distracting.

Radio Times reviewer – Alison Graham

Source: Radio Times

More info on the BBC website.