I love writing cliff hangers. I love it when my characters suddenly spin in a circle and then go off in a direction I’d never even thought of. It doesn’t always work. It often results in lots of extra editing and plotting headaches, but it’s one of the things I love the most when writing. That sudden moment when the story goes, What if?
That love for patterns and plot twists drives my love of crime drama and mystery. And if the plot twists are character driven, then so much the better. It’s one of the reasons I have a thing for Scandinavian crime fiction. I find that introspection blends with bleakness in a way that appeals to me.
Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg was probably the one that started it for me, but since then, there’ve been others. More recently, there’s also been TV drama, when I was given the box set for Swedish/Danish collaboration The Bridge for my birthday. It has all the hallmarks of a good crime drama: tension, murder, detectives with issues… actually, not a single character is wasted, especially in the beginning. And there are a few spectacular cliff hangers that really get you guessing.
The way all the characters played off one another’s failings and weaknesses made it feel oddly like a soap at times, but I thought it worked very well as part of a gritty crime drama. The drawback with The Bridge was its extremely rushed ending. As if they’d realised they were running out of budget and needed to wind this up, or as if the script writer had to be elsewhere and just nailed the end together. Which was a real shame in my book. That story deserved better.
Not that it’s turned me off Scandinavian crime drama. Far from it. I’ve given up TV for the most part, but when my husband spotted a trailer for a new Swedish ten-part crime series, I had to take a look.
And what a look it was!
The premise for Jordskott is deceptively simple: detective searching for missing boy returns to the area where her own daughter disappeared seven years earlier. And being a Swedish drama I was looking forward to a good mix of grit and human frailty.
The first episode doesn’t disappoint. Good visuals. Mysterious woods. The requisite bleakness. Potential conflict points all over the place. A raft of loose threads. A couple of obvious hooks that will most likely turn into red herrings… All stuff I like and I was well chuffed I’d decided to watch.
Until the last scene. When my beautiful, promising, character-based crime drama turned into something else in one ten second shot. In its way, it was perfect. An hour was spent to create expectations, which were thwarted in single moment. I have a few ideas where the story is headed next, but it isn’t where I thought it would go when I started watching.
Yes, I will watch the second episode, after which I’ll decide whether to buy the DVD or give up on something that seemed so promising at first. But talk about just desserts or getting your own back! It was as if someone had screamed PLOT TWIST in my ear to make me feel sorry for every single time I’ve done that to anyone. The next time I gleefully head towards a cliffhanger ending or major plot twist I’m sure I’ll remember Jordskott.