TV Series

FIRST LOOK: Face to Face (Season 3)

Apr 10, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This is a brief account of my impressions regarding the first two episodes of the show's third, season. Perhaps, I will upload a more well-rounded review after watching all 8 episodes.

The third and final outing for the distinguished Danish crime drama Face to Face (original title: Forhøret) was released in mid-February on the streaming service Viaplay and the seasoned fans of Nordic crime fiction are in for a treat as this cycle signals the conclusion of a storyline that permeated all three seasons, that is the brutal murder of a young girl, Christine Rasmussen. The show's distinct format, all seasons divided into 8 episodes of 25-30 minutes, each featuring a tête à tête interaction between the protagonist and a series of characters who are related to the plot in various ways, made Face to Face a favorite even for those who are not big on Scandi-crime television productions. After Ulrich Thomson and Trine Dyrholm who incarnated the role of the protagonist in seasons 1 and 2 respectively give way to Lars Mikkelsen's turn to carry the heavy burden of a costly personal investigation regarding the truth about Christina's death. Mikkelsen plays Holger Lang, a ruthless tycoon whom we met in one episode of the first season where he had an one-to-one discussion with Ulrich Thomsen's character, Bjorn. Mikkelsen's performance is vigorous and veneered with a feverish energy, allowing his character's cold-blooded façade to crack as he embarks on a quest to find who is responsible for the murder of his beloved Christine.

The first episode commences with Holger receiving a disturbing video in his cell phone by an unknown sender. The footage shows Christine being stabbed by the cruel psychopath John (Olaf Johannessen) but as Holger is watching it over and over, it dawns to him that John didn't act on his own volition but he was following orders. The question is: from whom. The first episode's guest character is Markus (Pilou Asbæk), Holger's brother. The siblings share a rather difficult relationship as we understand from their heated dialogue and Holger, with a rising paranoia clouding his judgement, accuses Markus of being the man who gave the order to John. The episode ends tragically with Holger ending up doing something that will definitely haunt him throughout the course of this season. The game of suspicion is central to the plot of Face to Face with the protagonist(s) interrogating friends, family, enemies, in a frenetic attempt to discern the truth from the lies. Director Christoffer Boe has said a few things about Holger's character, providing a general outline: "Holger Lang is both fascinating and frightening – perfect for a series about murder. When we first met him in season one, he was a potential killer, but this season he will take us all the way to the secrets behind Christina’s death (...) It’s fantastic to be able to close this story with Lars Mikkelsen in the lead".

An all-star cast is assembled by Boe with several heavy-hitters such as Nicolas Bro, Pilou Asbæk, Jacob Ofterbro, Lars Brygmann and more. Mikkelsen made a comment about that: "I got to meet some of the best actors in the country, so that’s one thing". Regarding the role he was called to bring to life, always in relation with the show's -almost- unique narrative structure, he also mentioned that the show has a very theatrical feel due to the extensive dialogue parts and that made the whole process feel more familiar: "“I was brought up on the theatre, so I must say it was fascinating work to try and film it.” However, according to his own admission, the ending of the shootings left him feeling knackered as playing a character like Holger is a highly energy consuming venture. I can't wait to see the finale of this series, a personal favorite of mine from its beginnings and what twists the screenwriters have in store for the thirsty audience. Always remember that it is necessary to have watched the previous two instalments in order to grasp the full complexity of the story featured in this third season. In lieu of a conclusion in my review, I will quote Viaplay's Chief Content Officer, Filippa Wallestam's words about the show: " Face to Face strips Nordic noir down to the essentials – suspense, psychology and style. In doing so, it gives a platform for unforgettable performances and cinematography, and reimagines the entire genre’s possibilities".

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