Reviews of Scandinavian Films and TV Series

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Those Who Kill and Katrine’s Emotional Responses

I’ve been watching Those Who Kill (Den Som Draeber). It’s clear that the protagonist Katrine at certain parts of the movie feels shame. The actress does an excellent job of displaying it in her facial expressions. She sort of hesitates and almost winces in a particular way when the character is becoming intimate with a man. I was able to see it before but I didn’t know what I was noticing. She looks like she’s feeling shame, “Like do I really deserve to be with a good partner? Do I really deserve to get a good man ? I’m not the kind of person that deserves to have good in this way. Do I really get to have good in this way ?”

Katrine is an interesting and complex character. She is the detective who fights the “bad guys.” But the bad guys are always attacking her and going straight for her as if drawn to her. Katrine is again and again “revictimized.” She is and isn’t a victim though. She’s not a helpless victim and she is a helpless victim. One one occasion she is kidnapped by a serial killer that she is hunting (who she triggered) and he attempts to break her down, violate her and kill her. She fights him off and get the gun out of his hands and cornered in a room alone with him she is ready to shoot him in self defence. Her colleagues arrive to rescue her just as she is about to pull the trigger and so they end up rescuing the serial killer. She is and she isn’t a victim. At another time in the series unknowingly she is dating the very serial killer that she is hunting for. She realizes that he is the serial killer she is hunting just as he attempts to kill her and fights him off. The police she works with arrive just in time to stop her from punching him to death. She always fights off the predators both personally as a woman and also professionally as a detective and police officer.

Another area that the series focuses on is Katrine’s anger and the sequelae of her abuse at the hands of her stepfather as a child. You could call this Katrine’s “PTSD” which is partly what drives her to catch the serial killers and make the world a safer place. Katrine is readily told to get her emotions under control and manage her anger but in the end you can see that this is what makes her such an effective detective and police officer. It motivates her to do the right thing and make the world a better place. She is not over what happened to her in a good way, she has allowed it to change her into the kind of person that changes the world and protects other would be victims. The series shows us what pathological rage looks like and then contrasts this with Katrine’s emotions. Katrine is an extremely well developed character over the course of the series and her development as a character is interwoven skillfully with the plot. I highly recommend this sometimes deep, dark and always deeply uplifting series.


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DAG: Season 3

I finished watching Season 3 of DAG. Here are a couple of the highlights:

Dag finally musters up the courage to try and find his son and connect with him. He goes over to the “mother’s” house and finds out that he doesn’t really have a child, the woman he was sleeping with who told him he had a child was mentally ill. She had just borrowed a baby from someone and was pretending.

Dag’s girlfriend Eva asks to take a break from him after he proposes to her.

I’ll discuss the second highlight in detail since this was the part of the second season that struck me the most.

The episode where Dag proposes and his girlfriend asks to take a break from each other is interesting. It’s interesting how it is framed. He and his girlfriend are having a double dinner date with his sister and her short Trinidadian boyfriend. Dag impulsively proposes and then Eva rushes from the table crying, to the bathroom where she locks herself in and won’t respond to him. It’s clear that Dag’s marriage proposal hasn’t gone well.


Dag comes back to the dinner table and his sister has now gone to another room. His sister’s boyfriend proceeds to very unempathetically tell him in lurid detail about the sex that he and Dag’s sister are having. I won’t go into the detail on here but essentially twisting a knife in Dag’s wound, he describes their sexual relationship as if he has completely violated Dag’s sister. (This is in much the same vein of , “Hey do you know what I did to your mother). He describes conquering his sister sexually. He tells Dag he has permanently physically changed his sister, and she will never relate to life or another man the same way again. You can see the expression on Dag’s face and it’s clear that he feels himself violated and very upset listening. Later he walks in on his sister and her boyfriend having sex in his dining room. What I found especially interesting about this scene is the way that it is presented as just the icing on the cake, the last straw and the salt in the wound of Eva rejecting Dag. This is the last thing he needs to hear on this night.

What is also extremely interesting is the fact Dag feels violated in exactly the same way by Eva. He feels that she has made her way in and almost physically changed him and made a hole in him that will now be there forever. He never connected with anyone on this deep an emotional level before, and he opened up to her and connected with her and now he is different, there is that longing for connection in him. Dag feels essentially deflowered and then abandoned. It’s fascinating because the idea of being sexually and emotionally violated via a romantic and sexual relationship is something we normally only apply to women. No one talks about men’s feelings of violation, and their feeling permanently changed by a relationship, and permanently physically changed them and like a woman has now carved a hole in their heart. There is only a conception of a women having these feelings of being sexually violated. To talk about a man being violated is taboo. Men are not allowed to voice these feelings. This TV series depends on a description of Eva being violated to voice Dag’s own feelings of violation because presumably if he were to try to explain them himself, the audience wouldn’t as easily understand and feel them. I can’t help but think that this is a feeling many men must experience and society’s unwillingness to acknowledge these men’s feelings of violation and allow men this sadness, must lead to a lot of men struggling with their feelings.

Eventually Dag does get back together with Eva in Season 3 and then later she proposes marriage to him and he says yes. There we have our happy ending.