This week’s episode is surprisingly gore free, but delivers a terrifying set piece when a stray polar bear enters Fortitude’s primary school and traps a child inside.
The sequence is a chilling call back to the series’ very first scene, in which an intoxicated Henry Tyson accidentally shot Billy Pettigrew instead of the polar bear that was mauling him. It was impossible to watch Michael Lennox, drunk and grieving the loss of the Muriel, aim at the bear without fearing the worst.
It’s not the only scene in which the events of season one are invoked; the citizens of Fortitude are still dealing with the implications of the wasp attack. After her injuries last season, Elena’s unfortunate fate is to be kept like “a rat in a Perspex box” in an induced coma by the sinister Dr. Khatri. New cast member Parminder Nagra is a revelation- within the space of one episode, Dr. Khatri’s relentless pursuit of science makes her one of Fortitude’s scariest residents.
The perpetrator of the fire on the Muriel is revealed to be Lamont, Michael’s right-hand man. By the episode’s close Michael has resolved to sell the Muriel for scrap, but accepting his wife Freya’s declining health will be much harder. Natalie continues to hide her wasp studies from new partner Vincent, but the duo look set to hunt down a live polar bear to establish just what’s happening to Fortitude’s wildlife.
The identity of the headless body is revealed as that of Lazlo Hindemith, whose death reminds the audience that researchers don’t last long in Fortitude. Amidst the piles of prescription drugs and photos of atrocities in the Congo, Ingrid discovers her brother Rune’s belt, another sign that he is somehow involved in Lazlo’s death. Ever the loyal sister, Ingrid does not immediately inform Eric of her brother’s involvement- will she continue to cover for Rune?
Ingrid is one of many characters in Episode 2 that is undergoing a transformation of sorts. Dan’s absence and hospitalisation has forced Eric to become sheriff. After his incompetence prevents the police from reaching Fortitude’s bear besieged school, it’s unclear whether he has the skills the role demands.
Just as Eric is forced into the limelight, his wife Hildur is made to take a backseat when the release of fuel for the sailors has dire consequences. No longer governor of Fortitude, it’s unclear whether or not Hildur will fight for her job, or how she will adapt to being an ordinary citizen.
Episode 2 left the audience with plenty of questions: What caused the bear to enter town? Will Eric survive his altercation with Tavrani the taxidermist? Did Tavrani kill Lazlo, and if so, was he working alone?
Filled with intrigue, Fortitude continues its impressive second season in this stellar episode.
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 2 February 2017 on Sky Atlantic.
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