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Wallander 4 (BBC/DVD/2016)

Henning Mankell’s Swedish detective-hero has had quite a strong life, from the original Swedish versions (32 90-minute films over eight years, first released theatrically there in 2005. then on Scandinavian television a year or two later), starring Krister Henriksson. They then adapted other novels into English for Kenneth Branagh (12 episodes over five years, 2008-2015). Henning died last year, age 67.

This series four is the final end of this remarkable copper:  middle-aged, burning out, with Early On-Set Alzheimer’s, a daughter he adores, a son-in-law he finally accepts, and a darling grandchild. These last three episodes sum him up well. And the producers, writers, directors, actors and crew will all have helped kept Mankell’s star shinning (adding to those who loved the original crime novels.)

The three hour-and-a-half episodes take place in South Africa (Mankell lived six months a year in Mozambique), and Ysted, (southern) Sweden. In the first episode, “The White Lioness,” set in Cape Town, S.A., while on vacation, he is asked by the local police department to find a missing Swedish national (which of course he does, entertaining us with his efficiencies along with the gorgeous outdoor visuals of that country. And eschewing the regulatory violence that generally attaches itself to this genre. 

Back in Sweden, in “A Lesson In Love,” he has to track down a young girl after her mother is murdered.  While dealing with his on-going diabetes. 

For the last episode, “The Troubled Man,” his Alzheimer diagnosis is now in full swing, so he must write himself notes as he goes along tracking down villains and victims, but shows the guts and internal fortitude it takes to be a police detective.

When you have followed one beloved character for over a decade, in Swedish and then in English, you do know him very well, indeed. Branagh brought out his underlying depression (or as one character reassures him: “But what Swede isn’t?”), as well as his thoughtful insights into crime and criminals. I, for one, will miss the hell out of Kurt Wallender, Swedish or British.