The story starts just after news of the new unit has been announced to the public and before anyone joins the team. Warning, episode spoilers and lots of images below the cut. I’ve kept the size small, but if you have problems loading, let me know and I’ll split the posts.
The title character is Detective Inspector Hallgrim Hallgrimsson, known as "The Eagle". When we first meet Hallgrim he's on a plane, about to return to Iceland, where his mother is gravely ill:
However he gets hauled off the plane after the police receive a tip-off about the murder of a policeman working at Copenhagen airport. The cop’s gun has been stolen and it’s somewhere in the terminal.
Hallgrim connects with Lars from airport police. They discuss what to do – Security wants to make all the passengers go through full checks again. Hallgrim says no, it will cause panic. Instead, he orders additional surveillance at all points. On their way through the terminal they meet a flight attendant, Frida, who obviously knows Hallgrim quite well. Frida's daughter Maja (7) is off to visit her father in Lanzarlote, travelling alone for the first time.
Entering the toilet where the body was found , Hallgrim meets Ditte, the crime scene investigator. She tells Hallgrim to keep out, and then gives him a laptop so he can see the dead man’s body via her mobile phone. He realizes the man’s ID is gone. Lars gets news of another call – the gun is for a hijacking, today. The caller ended his message with the word 'Jihad'. Hallgrim orders all flights cancelled.
Cut for Title sequence, which has lots of swooping aerial shots and pictures of Hallgrim at various ages. The theme song is a lovely haunting ballad sung in English – “Forgiveness”.
We next arrive via aerial-cam at “police headquarters” just as the “Politiets Aktionsstyrke” (Danish SWAT/TRG force) is heading out. Well, I think that’s where we are and who they’re meant to be – the sign outside the building says something like “Rigspolitiet Szerlige Afdeling” (Police …. Department). The site is the old naval base at Holmen.
We follow Marie, a police prosecutor, inside. The building is an austere mix of old (wood beams and old, thick walls) and new (varnished mezzanine walkways and a metal staircase).
Marie,has been called away from a big court case to an urgent meeting with Thea, who’s in charge of the new “national section for cross-border organized crime”. Marie applied for the job but was unsuccessful . Although she’s been transferred to work as Thea’s deputy she resents Thea and thinks she’s an “old idiot”. Thea knows this, but she also knows Marie’s weaknesses, offering her a choice of desk – “looking at the boys training or a view out over the water?”
They snipe at each other a little, then Thea tells Marie that she wants 'The Eagle' to head the operational team. Some details of Hallgrim’s past are revealed, including the fact that he served in Palestine. There’s only one problem says Marie - he hasn’t applied.
Back at the airport, Hallgrim is gathering his team. He calls Nazim, who obviously knows him well because he says “you’re back” in a surprised tone and asks if ‘she’ is better. Hallgrim doesn’t answer, just says, “Here’s a nasty word. Jihad.” Nazim says it depends where you stand.
Hallgrim asks Nazim to go and see ‘the imam’. Nazim agrees, only then letting Hallgrim know that he’s “on holidays”. Hallgrim says his holidays are “‘hereby suspended”.
This is Nazim. Probably my favourite character. He’s tough, loyal, smart & generally a cool dude.
And this is Michael, the computer/electronics whizz-kid. He's cute & smart & efficient but unfortunately he seems to spend most of his time staring at a computer screen.
Back at the crime scene Ditte is having a few problems with her boss, Jens. Partly because he seems to be insanely jealous of her scary professional competence, and partly because of something else (that we find out about later).
A mobile phone in the dead guy’s pocket rings. Betty’s calling. Lars says it’s the dead guy’s wife. Betty works in catering at the airport, and next thing she’s come over to Lars wondering where her husband (Kenneth) is. This is a real WTF moment for me. No matter how quickly events have moved surely someone should have considered NOK by now…
… of course there’s a definite probability Lars has thought about it and he’s been avoiding the issue – so when Betty turns up with her son in tow, he compounds his sins by buggering off, leaving Michael to deal with distracting the kid and telling Betty the bad news. He does a reasonable job…
... and manages to maintain the cuteness factor. (Seriously, though, would you leave this job to a complete stranger????)
This is Hallgrim briefing the AKS. Their job is to run around creating filler footage and posing impressively. The bloke to Hallgrim's left is their commander, Holsoe. His job is to argue with Hallgrim whenever The Eagle decides on an unconventional course of action, which happens fairly frequently.
Lars tells them the killer used the dead cop’s ID and they’ve used that to trace him to the basement level of the old terminal. So AKS squad Alpha runs around in the dark looking for a man with a gun.
All they find is another victim, injured rather than dead this time. The killer now has another ID card. Holsoe sends men to cover all the exits, although it’s probably too late. Meanwhile Hallgrim is being driven across the runway to air traffic control and he spots a private plane. His driver says it belongs to Sandberg - “an expatriate who owes the state 90 million”.
Back in mission control Hallgrim meets Sorensen, the negotiator, who looks as though he has a permanent case of indigestion. Sorensen likes things by the book and he insists that all decisions are made by the commissioner.
Thea and Marie leave HQ. Frandsen is outside, waiting for Marie, who introduces him to Thea as “the best man on the fraud squad”. Frandsen says Sandberg is out – the judge declared the arrest illegal – and he’s off to his private jet. Thea rings her own mobile number, then suggests there was an anonymous tip that there’s heroin on the jet.
Michael finds footage of the killer tracking Kenneth into the toilet and coming out alone. The man then buys a boxed bottle of whisky, takes the bottle out and replaces it with a gun, before handing the package over to two men inside a café. The men go off to board their plane. One of them tosses the package into a bin but the other takes it out again. They go to their gate and enter the plane just behind the little girl, Maja. They end up sitting beside her.
Michael has identified the two men. The bearded one is Bassem, the other is Ibrahim. Hallgrim asks Sorensen to check them out, but Sorensen says his job is to watch the phones. Michael snatches the passenger list and says that he’ll do it. They order the plane moved to a better position and Hallgrim allows the dispatcher to start sending out the other flights.
It turns out that the men are bikies. Ibrahim is a petty drug pusher, but Bassem is on parole for murder.
On board the plane Ibrahim suggests Maja might like a window seat. Maja refuses. A few minutes later Bassem gets antsy and jumps up, forcing Maja into the window seat. The flight attendant tells him to sit down; he swears at her but does as he’s told.
Thea calls Hallgrim to remind him to apply for the job. “Just now my answer is no,” he says, before calling Nazim. “I’ve got two International Association men with a loaded gun on a plane.”
Holsoe sends squads Alpha and Bravo into position.
Hallgrim takes another look at the footage of Bassem and Ibrahim. He sees they’re drinking beer in the café, and tells Holsoe to stay put.
Nazim collars a guy who turns out to be an undercover policeman – “aren’t you suspended?” the man asks. Nazim wants to know about the two on the plane. “Jihad? They wouldn’t know what it means.”
On the plane, Bassem has just realised there's a gun in the whisky box and starts to get panicky.
Holsoe argues with Hallgrim “Are you waiting for them to open fire?” “They will if you go in now,” Hallgrim retorts, as his phone rings. It’s his sister. Their mother has just died and Hallgrim should have been there.
There’s a flashback to Hallgrim’s childhood, some significant event, the meaning of which isn’t clear yet. Then his phone rings. This time it’s Nazim. Someone tricked the two guys – a man gave them a parcel to take to Lanzarlote. Hallgrim wants Nazim at the airport, now. Nazim picks up on something in his voice, asks if he’s all right. “No.” But he has what it takes to comfort Frida and tell her everything will be fine. Then he goes back to the ops room. Everyone has heard about his mother. Holsoe suggests he should go home.
Hallgrim asks how the killer got into the transit hall. “He duped the two guys on board and he’s duping us!” Outside, with nothing much better to do the AKS poses nicely.
Holsoe suggests that 6 men could take the plane. No, says Hallgrim. They might panic. One man will do, through the cargo hold. “Mike me up. You stand by.” Holsoe argues with him (you get the feeling he’s more than a little frustrated by this time) but Hallgrim is implacable. Meanwhile Michael has found film of the killer arriving on a flight from St Petersburg that morning. From the footage he realizes that the man knew he was being taped.
Marie and Frandsen arrive with papers to serve Sandberg…
While Ditte makes a discovery…
And Nazim arrives and gets kitted up. Michael is impressed.
Then Marie arrives and tries to break up the fraternal bonding session by reminding Nazim he's suspended. Nazim tells her Hallgrim suspended his suspension.
Marie doesn’t really know what’s going on, or why Hallgrim is there. She asks Lars, who tells her he can’t say. She says she wants the guards back on Sandberg’s plane. Lars admits he hasn’t had time to remove them anyway.
Outside, the killer is getting into position outside the perimeter fence. Marie and Frandsen drive out to Sandberg’s jet. At first Sandberg is jovial, semi-singing the “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome,” line from Cabaret as they arrive and suggesting they remove the guards as he’s on his way to London and “I don’t want to drive over their tiny feet.” But he changes when Frandsen tells him about the tip-off and that the sniffer dogs are in Jutland and won’t be there until tomorrow when Sandberg will be in (the appeals) court.
Marie and Frandsen walk away, happy (yes, Frandsen is happy – he always looks like this – he says “He took that well”!). Watch Marie’s scarf though – someone’s out there, playing.
Meanwhile, Hallgrim is out at the passenger plane. He tells Holsoe that he’s going in. Holsoe asks if he’s armed but Hallgrim says it isn’t necessary. Holsoe thinks he’s mad. Nazim unfastens a cover leading from the cargo bay into the trolley bay at the back of the plane. Hallgrim practices a few Arabic phrases with him, just to make sure he can say them correctly. Then he goes in.
He walks up to the two men, explains who he is and opens his coat to show that he’s unarmed.
“Don’t be afraid,” he says, in Arabic. “You’ve been tricked… I’m helping you.”
Bassem pulls the gun out and seems about to go crazy. “Give me the gun” says Hallgrim. “Give him the gun,” says Ibrahim.
Hallgrim has negotiation skills and an Eagle-like stare.
Bassem’s friend shows some common sense.
In Danish, Hallgrim explains that there’s been a mistake, they’re on the wrong plane and would they please follow him. They all leave the plane - we get a killer’s eye view of them disembarking.
Maja is reunited with her mother. Hopefully her father won’t create a stink about missing his access visit.
As departing planes roar overhead, the killer fires, twice, and the guards die.
The assassin goes out to Sandberg’s jet and calls out both Sandberg (who sees the dead guards and is most upset - I don’t think it’s for their sake) and another passenger, a Russian.
Ditte and Jens, her boss, go to see Hallgrim. On the way they argue about maintenance and their children. You get the picture. Ditte gets a call from their daughter, ‘Fie’. Jens heads off to see Hallgrim and tells him what Ditte found without giving her any credit. Ditte arrives part-way through, then trumps Jens by adding that Kenneth’s keys and car have gone.
Frandsen identifies the man on the security tapes as Sergej Varsjinskij, an old KGB man.
Lars and Hallgrim dash out to the plane, but too late. They track Sandberg and Sergej through the fence, but Sandberg is the only one they find, dead, shot in the back of the head.
Sergej and his passenger escape to Sweden via the Oresund Bridge.
Hallgrim races to see Thea and pushes his application at her. She says “Oh, really”, and calls him a cowboy. He says he wants to know why four people died. Thea says he thinks the airport was a disaster but she thinks otherwise.
“The words Muslim and jihad create panic. Holsoe was ready to go. If not for you, he’d have shot the cabin to pieces.”
At the end of the day Hallgrim goes out onto the wharf to think. He calls his sister. He says he’ll be home for the funeral. Marie joins him. She tells him the other man on the plane was Luka Budanov, Russia’s richest man, wanted for the killing of the Russian Justice Minister. Budanov and Sergej crossed the bridge to Sweden half an hour ago.
Hallgrim asks Marie, “When do you start?”
Now, she tells him.
“Shall we get ourselves to Sweden?”
And off they go, to Episode Two.
The members of the team-to-be (Hallgrim, Thea, Marie, Frandsen, Michael, Ditte and Nazim) have shown that they’re better, smarter, and more prepared than the regular agency personnel (Lars, Holsoe, Jens and the prosecutor who replaced Marie in court). Sergej’s escape proves that their opposition is equally smart and cunning, and usually one step ahead.
The characters are intriguing, although I confess I’m less interested in Hallgrim’s past, and Marie’s peccadilloes than I am in Nazim and Ditte, my favourites thus far. Frandsen is nicely morbid; “I read the death notices to make sure I’m still alive.” And Thea is great – blunt, forceful and not above using ‘any means necessary’ to combat international crime.
In a way, Ørnen is a little like CI5 brought up to date with mobile phones and GPS tracking, and transferred to Copenhagen. The odyssey theme means they’ll be travelling across borders a lot which is also a bonus.
I found some of the camera work annoying. It’s obviously autumn, and everything is low-light grey and kinda blurry around the edges. There’s also too much diving in for close-ups, or hand-held transition shots across the backs of people’s heads or furniture for my taste. Of course it could just be my frustration as a novice screen-capper *g*
It’s occurred to me that non-lj people might find this post if they search for English language information. For anyone in this situation, anonymous commenting is enabled - just leave me a name/sig if you comment without a livejournal ID.