HomeTVWalter Presents: 'Arctic Circle' preview - the main premise works nicely

Walter Presents: ‘Arctic Circle’ preview – the main premise works nicely

As if the world hadn’t had enough of global pandemics, this new Finnish/German drama from Walter Presents centres around the discovery of a deadly virus that is transmitted via a specific variation of the herpes gene. But before you think this is a Covid cash-in, ‘Arctic Circle’ (‘Ivalo’ in Finnish) actually dates from 2018 – long before words such as lockdown and social distancing came into our regular vocabulary.

If you want to avoid spoilers, stop reading this article now.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Initially, we meet Nina Kautsalo (nicely portrayed by Iina Kuustonen), a Finnish police office located in the snowy landscape of Lapland, not far from the Russian border. She and her partner discover a young woman in the basement of a remote property. She is in a coma and close to death having suffered serious physical abuse. Also in the basement were a selection of women’s clothes of various sizes, suggesting there are other victims. Further searching by a canine unit unearths a second victim – a dead woman buried beneath the ice.

Walter Presents: Arctic Circle
Credit: Walter Presents

Both victims are Russian prostitutes who came to over to Finland on the “whore bus” – a term that Nina dislikes. As a result, the Russian authorities are brought in to work alongside their Finnish counterparts to investigate the crime.

But the real cause for concern comes when tests on the surviving girl reveals a rare and deadly virus in her blood. The Finns and Russians reach out to an eminent German virologist, Thomas Lorenz (Maximillion Brückner), who flies out to Lapland to work alongside the local police force and set about testing all the people who’ve had a sexually transmitted infection and could potentially be carrying the virus – including Nina’s sister, Marita (Pihla Viitala – who you might recognise from the Netflix show, Deadwind). However, the reason for Thomas’ arrival is shrouded in secrecy as the authorities don’t want to start a panic in the local community – not even the local police know the true reason for his appearance, making his working relationship with Nina and her colleagues a difficult one from the start.

The icy tundra of Lapland looks beautiful on screen. Fabulous shots of skidoos whizzing across the white snow, wild reindeer and howling huskies – it’s a landscape that is visually stunning and lends itself perfectly to thrillers like this.

Walter Presents: Arctic Circle
Credit: Walter Presents

The storyline has a few holes and inconsistencies, but the main premise works nicely. And for the worst of reasons, the spread of infectious viral disease is a topic we’ve become very familiar with in recent times.

Because of the range of nationalities involved in this series – Finns, Russians, Germans – much of the dialogue is conducted in English. And strangely, that’s actually quite distracting. Because the actors aren’t speaking in their native tongues, the script sounds stilted and lacking in realism at times. But that’s my only real criticism for what is a pleasant enough opening episode.

Whether or not it will fully develop into something substantial and watchable – or become so ridiculously improbable that we lose interest – only time will tell.

Walter Presents: ‘Arctic Circle’ is available as a full boxset on All 4 now.

Martin Howse
Martin Howse
Martin is a wannabe Viking who enjoys all things Nordic (literature, film, TV, rock music - and cinnamon buns!). Skål!

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