Review: Deadwind (Karppi ), Season 1

Pihla Viitala in Deadwind (Karppi)

Deadwind (Karppi), Nordic noir from Finland, puts a cop named Sofia Karppi at the center of a complex mystery series. Season 2 of this successful series is already in the works.

Fans of Nordic noir will definitely want to watch Deadwind (Karppi). It’s slow and convoluted with numerous subplots, but it’s a fine Finnish offering to the genre.

Sofia Karppi (Pihla Viitala) is a young cop who returned to Helsinki after her husband’s accidental death in Germany. She has a 17 year old step-daughter Henna (Mimosa Willamo) and a son Emil (Noa Tola), who is about 10. Sofia is a grieving widow with a rebellious teen. So, of course, she goes back to work in a demanding job as a homicide detective.

Pihla Viitala and Lauri Tilkanen in Deadwind (Karppi)

Sofia is assigned to work with Sakari Nurmi (Lauri Tilkanen), who transferred into the homicide division from a job where he was pushing numbers all day. She regards him as inexperienced and an inconvenience to her investigative style most of the time.

Their first case is to investigate the murder of a woman named Anna (Pamela Tola). In the 12 episodes it takes them to find out what happened to Anna, they stumble on many other crimes and investigate numerous characters.

Anna worked for Alex Hoikkala (Tommi Korpela) and was having an affair with him. Alex, his sister Julia (Pirjo Lonka), and his brother Roope (Riku Nieminen) ran a company called Tempo. Alex invented a material that was durable enough to work in wind energy development. Their company was waiting for a permit from the Helsinki city counsel that would allow them to build apartments powered by the wind energy advancement.

Anna’s husband Usko (Jani Volanen) was, of course, a suspect. Other suspects appeared as the case grew more complicated, including characters from Anna’s old life as a champion swimmer. She suffered under a coach who liked young girls. There was an eco-activist, a stalker, and business owners. Plenty of suspects.

A German company wanted to buy Tempo, and Alex’s sister Julia wanted to sell. The relationship between all the characters and what the German company actually wanted Tempo for was hard to unravel.

Flashbacks were used to fill in details, as the two investigators uncovered new clues and answers. It was an effective way to tell the story. You didn’t see how the crimes happened in a linear way, you saw them as the investigation uncovered them. It keeps the audience guessing as to what really happened along with the cops.

Humor? In Nordic Noir?

In this Finnish noir drama, nobody smiled and nobody seemed happy. The cast were curt and stoic Finns. But there was some humor.

Koskimäki (Raimo Grönberg) was Sofia and Sakari’s boss in the police. It was very funny how he was always trying to take her off the case, send her home to rest. He was ridiculously sexist. Or perhaps he thought she needed more time to grieve the loss of her husband. The only thing that was really clear was he didn’t like her working on the case.

Part of the reason it was funny to me was because she was clearly a superior investigator. Smart, relentless, intuitive – she could out investigate Sakari in her sleep. However, by the end of the season, the two of them had bonded into a great team.

Sofia would supposedly be off work and “resting” as ordered by her boss, but she was running around alone getting into dangerous situations as she investigated further and further into Anna’s death. She’d call Sakari to join her after the facts were uncovered.

In one subplot, Sofia and Sakari took off and went to Germany to dive in caves, where they found important evidence. They didn’t tell Koskimäki where they were or what they were doing until Sofia had to call Koskimäki for help because Sakari had been snatched by some bad guys.

Another thing I found funny was Sofia’s son Emil, who had a long, tangled mop of hair just like his mother, telling his mom that she’d never get another man in her life if she didn’t comb her hair. I have to report, she didn’t comb her hair.

Finally, Sakari’s car was a running joke. Doors wouldn’t open. The seat belts didn’t work. Once it just quit in the middle of nowhere.

General Thoughts

I like the Finnish title Karppi, better than Deadwind because the series is clearly about Sofia Karppi. Yet Netflix decided Deadwind had more familiar appeal for Americans. Her personal struggles as a mom and grieving widow were interesting. Her style as a cop was built for drama.

The visual setting – in Helsinki, inside various homes and apartments, in snowy open spaces, in forests, and by the ice-filled ocean – it was all stunningly photographed. Every episode was directed by Rike Jokela. He also co-wrote the series with Kirsi Porkka and Jari Olavi Rantala.

Deadwind (Karppi) is mostly in Finnish, with some German and English.  You can watch it on Netflix.

Have you seen this series? How did you like Sofia Karppi? Are you ready for a second season with this police woman?

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