FIRST LOOK: Snabba Cash (Season 2)
FOREWORD NOTE: This is a review based on watching the first two episodes of the six-part second season of the Swedish gangster television show "Snabba Cash". A more detailed review will follow as soon as I finish watching the series in its entirety.
Are you feeling ready to immerse once again into the shady reality of Stockholm's underworld through the eyes of one of the most groundbreaking Swedish crime writers, Jens Lapidus? Snabba Cash returns for its second season with the same creative team behind the cameras and its first two episodes leave nothing but good impressions, despite the -many- hateful reviews circulating on the web proclaiming the exact opposite and promise thrills as well as lots of realistic action for the remaining four episodes of this latest outing. Readers who have read Jens Lapidus's early work as a crime writer will have certainly experienced on their skin the gritty, violent fictitious universe that he creates, without ever losing his grip on the exceptional plotting and the truthful, honest characterization of the protagonists who may initially come across as unlikable, only for the audience to identify with them as the story moves forward regardless their flaws and shortcomings. The original source is Lapidus's Easy Money novel trilogy which set new, higher standards in the sub-genre of gangster crime fiction with its eye for the detail and the author's firm grip on the pulse of his hometown's underbelly, a world with which Lapidus became familiar with through his vocation as a successful Stockholm criminal lawyer, a job that made him witness first-hand the sad truth about the propensity of many native and immigrant youngsters for the criminal lifestyle and the fake glamour of gangsters' way of living.
Lapidus's characters live and breathe for the acquiring of the titular "easy money" and their actions are justified in the name of immediate profit in a process that cannot be hindered by any kind of moral sentiment such as the respect on human life as gangster number one ought to be relentless with his enemies having no other alternative. The slightest trace of vulnerability may result to your own demise and living within the confines of the city's seedy underworld imposes an extreme form of ruthlessness. In this environment friendship is a currency that have long lost its value and what remains is a city divided into neighborhoods-territories controlled by aspiring "kings" of the Stockholm's gangland and the peace in the streets is often disrupted by incidents of shootings between rival mobs. As it happened in the book trilogy, the story unfolds through the perspectives of several different characters who inhabit not only the unprivileged city's hoods but also the high-stakes world of finance which often proves to be even more cruel and deadly even when compared with that of criminals. The two threads, of the financial and common crime merge into one in the course of the story and they finally collide in the final climax which finds the protagonists in the same place with guns pointing at every way during the concluding standoff. The series infuse high-octane action sequences with scenes of -sometimes quiet, sometimes fiery- interplay between the characters where their desires and motivations are revealed to the audience.
The beginning of the second season finds the protagonists of the previous cycle facing tough predicaments as both Leya and her brother-in-law Ravy find their livelihoods threatened, each for different reasons. Leya's precious start-up, TargetCoach, is under scrutiny by the Financial Police for several serious scams and crimes, so her dream of launching her company in the stock market is destroyed and the new reality obliges her to resort to desperate solutions in order to save her life's work. Ravy, on the other hand, is challenged by the emergence of a new, super-ambitious, street gang that defies his dominance and even attempts to kill him in the ending of the first episode. Apart from the aforementioned two main protagonists, the screenwriters, headed by the acclaimed writer of several successful Nordic television shows Oskar Söderlund, also focus on a group of underaged children who become entangled in a drug dealing scheme orchestrated by the new gang feuding over territories that traditionally belonged to prominent members of Stockholm's criminal life. Salim, one of basic characters in the previous season, is absent, of course, and Tim, whose arc has been one of the most intriguing and emotionally touching aspects of the first cycle, is restrained to a secondary role as it seems in the first two episodes.
The show retains its visual quality with alternating shots of posh houses and surroundings from Leya's world contrasted with the realistic portrayal of life as it is for the lower, underprivileged class. This ocular opposition conveys the chasm that divides modern Swedish society into two distinct groups which are meant to stay separated for ever. The creators do not particularly dwell on the Swedish socio-economic status quo in an attempt to explain or justify the characters' conduct. It rather zeroes in the subjective realities as experienced by each of the protagonists whose ever-growing needs always seem to take the better of them and lead them to disastrous decisions. The point is that the agents of the story feel real and three-dimensional to the audience which often takes a leap and empathize with them, especially when they are knee-deep in a swamp of their own making. Evin Ahmad has the necessary charisma to charm the audience with her stark presence and unwavering resolve that is delineated in her facial expressions and body language. Dada Fungula Bozela steals the thunder with his candid portrayal of Ravy, a man who slowly spirals out of control giving in to his repressed feelings of anger while diving deeper and deeper into substance abuse. All the actors do their best and I think that Olle Sarri as Tomas and Ayaan Ahmed as Nala are the ones who stand out from the rest of the crew.
I enjoyed the first two parts of this season, and I can't wait to see what the creators have in store in the remaining episodes. I really cannot understand all the hatred expressed in many online reviews as I firmly believe that the second season of Snabba Cash stands on an equal level with the first one in terms of quality and production values. I will post a full review as soon as I complete watching all six episodes.
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