Hi! We're back to see what Nicola Walker does next as DI Annika Strandhed on Annika, it's a hilarious show with nicely encapsulated mysteries and literary allusions all mucked together. Rolling into my recap of Annika S1:E1.2 Valkyrie after the break!
So last time I delved a bit into the history of Annika and got it all wrong. I didn't do my research on the show and was relying on what I'd gleaned on social media BUT there was a reason for that. I've got horribly miserably spoiled by looking up show details before, and coming at it slightly behind I was worried I would find out too much. HOWEVER! I now see that each episode is a standalone mystery, I've gotten so used to one puzzle being stretched out over several installments that it never occurred to me there would be new ones each week!
REGARDLESS, the lovely people at a Nicola Walker Fansite twitter account set me straight and I've got all the right information now and can stop blathering on about myself.
Anniika started its life as a Sweettalk Productions beautifully directed by Jeremy Osborne and produced by Karen Rose. It is now on our TV and since our esteemed Nicola Walker was the voice in radio, she's picked up where she left off. Nick Walker is responsible for conceiving of and writing the radio and TV series, and it looks as though it was directed by another bloke, Phillip John. It was very well received and morphed its way into a drama through the alibi channel, well known for its quality UK dramas.
We open with DI Annika Strandhed (Nicola Walker!! Follow that link for all the other fabulous shows I've recapped of hers, maybe a little Last Tango in Halifax, Unforgotten or perhaps River? Anyone? She's amazing) explaining the myth of Valkyries to us as she and DS Michael McAndrews (Jamie Sives) pull up on a seemingly empty boat of the same name.
In the myth, Annika tells us, Valkyries wove absolutely terrible clothing out of dead men in a giant loom and anyway: they got to decide who lived and died, just like whomever murdered the poor bloke covered in blood aboard the Valkyrie boat she's now boarded.
McAndrews finds a rock with something etched onto it, what is that?
Annika is right, McAndrews doesn't seem funny at all now that he didn't get promoted into the role she's in.
Annika gets back to land to a call from her daughter's school, Morgan Strandhed (Silvie Furneaux) has been found with a water bottle full of vodka (just like Last Tango!) but it's difficult to focus on even that when the dock is exploding.
Masterful death avoidance and cool retention, McAndrews, slow clap. Annika is directed to have McAndrews do light duties for now, overseeing the dock examination 'suits his skill set' according to Annika's boss DCI Diane Oban (Kate Dickie). She's got loads more management type words she can share with Annika, she only has to ask!
NOW I understand what someone was referring to on the Twitter! This is why I can't read ahead!
Or maybe I should try and keep up, yes?
In case it wasn't clear above (totally wasn't) Annika is just recently promoted out of the ranks to DI and team leader for a brand spanking new unit. She knows McAndrews from before, that's proved to be more of a hindrance than a help, but everyone else is unfamiliar as is her leading people formally. The very first day she forgot the cupcakes and attempted to replace with salted Norwegian licorice that she sourced from the bottom of her pocket. That should tell you where her working knowledge of management buzzwords sits.
We get a briefing with the gang. DC Blair Ferguson (Katie Leung) and DC Tyrone Clark (Ukweli Roach) tell us what we've learned thus far about dead Ronnie Kidd who was much cuter alive. Perhaps I am profiling the manscaping, but he doesn't LOOK like an art teacher. Huh.
The crime scene is probably going to be the best source of information, it's just a bit scattered.
Okay that was me. I'm going to use Nicola Walker's cheeky face whenever I think I've got a good one off.
Annika asks Blair how to get a teen off alcohol, but Morgan's not impressed scrolling through a website about liver damage. When Annika asks who's been selling her vodka, Morgan swirls to a drinks cabinet full of booze and storms off.
Remember when you could get away with absolutely anything and people just shrugged it off as teenager/hormones? Yeah, me either.
The best parts of Annika are when she gets philosophical and breaks the fourth wall, as she does musing about her own childhood at sea. She sailed early and was only thirteen the first time she saw a dead body. She even pulled it to shore, but today that could have been her so all the water bottle vodka is for her.
The team, save McAndrews, is off to the Isle of Bute where the Valkyrie has a mooring spot. Annika's brought Morgan of course, as she's been suspended from school. She points Blair at her, hmm, babysitting the boss's pissed-off kiddo is going to be FUN.
Actually, it kind of is! Blair leads by telling Morgan the heroic tale of a drunk baker on the Titanic, she's got that right out in the beginning! Good job.
Sergeant Tam Glenn (Tam Dean Burn) is happy to hand the case off, he's only got two weeks left, save getting blown up. That was a bit on the nose, Tam, shame. When Annika asks if he has a vehicle she can use...
That was for us Last Tango-ers!!!!! Woooooooo
Tam lays out the geographics of the case; but there's no CCTV on the mooring, to Blair and Annika's dismay. That's the thing about the UK, I hear it's loaded with cameras, must be easy to get accustomed to being able to view everything through a grainy blur.
I know a lot of information was exchanged through the team meeting with Tam, and everyone leaves with something to do and somewhere to go but I've stayed behind hugging myself at how lovely they are all together. Annika asking Tam to not give her a cigarette no matter how much she pulls rank, Blair teasing Annika about a schist rock joke, like the one we heard one minute thirty into the episode.
Lovely. I feel like beaming at strangers.
That's what this show does, it makes you want to offer lollipops to adults you don't know. Not children, that's got a bad rap these days, THANKS.
Morgan takes a break from lacquering on eyeliner to grab a bottle of vodka and head out on her own in the bustling town of Bothesay.
So I wanted to make up for my laxity last episode and looked up the Isle of Bute to find the correct spelling of the town they're in, turns out they're big stinking liars anyway. There's just Rothesay, completely different than our fictional Bothesay.
McAndrews meets with Oban back in Glasgow. I was wondering if it was safe for Annika to leave this particular snake in the hen house. (I'm super bad at metaphors). They DO talk about his getting passed over for promotion, he says his family was ecstatic and Oban promises he'll get his shot. Just not now. I can't see that being okay for our Michael McAndrews whatever he says.
Hm. Our dead art teacher's boss seems kind of stroppy for someone who just lost someone they knew well. I've seen schist rocks with more emotion than Karina Williams (Marnie Baxter). Weird.
Speaking of those rocks, Blair finds a load of them in the quarry where Ronnie's brother works, she's examining one as she's almost crushed to death by a planned explosion. She's pushed to safety by the brother, Grant Kidd (Gerry Lynch) "a big slab of a man" who clearly thinks she's daft.
Okay! So, Ronnie's house was broken into on Friday night, which is also the night they think he went missing and who was the culprit? None other than his brother Grant. Is it breaking in if it's family? I dunno. Ah I guess they just drink a lot and fight.
A teenage girl spies Morgan pouring vodka into a glass in a restaurant and exchanges a sip for her Scandinavian scarf. Aww, she's making friends! All these positive things from underage drinking.
Grant calls the carved rock from his dead brother's crime scene a burial stone but Annika thinks it's more likely a love token. But from whom?
(You have no idea how impossible it is to not call Nicola Walker Gillian or Cassie. No. IDEA)
Ah jaysus, Ronnie was, well, you can't call it dating, but he was seeing that same 15 year old girl Morgan gave booze to earlier this day. He may have been in love.
She's definitely climbing a difficult mountain with her dad while intoxicated. Oh shit! She cuts the line and falls while Morgan watches from below. The girl left one of those carved stones before she started climbing.
I'm missing all the important stuff about Vikings, sorry, they're plot points, like Sr. Albatross last time. 15 year old Vikings were considered adults a hundred years ago, they're not even close are they?
The girl is Sigi Gunderson:
(Imogen Mackie Walker while I was trying to suss out why there are so many people with the surname Walker I came across her credit on the show Karen Pirie. IS THAT LIKE VAL MCDERMID'S KAREN PIRIE?? I love her books, although if I'm honest I skip over a lot of the GROSS (I missed half of The Mermaid's Singing - hella gross) but I didn't realise there was another show!! Did you know she was involved with Traces? I recapped that too!)
And she survived the fall, even as Morgan takes responsibility for it in that typical solipsistic teenage fashion. 'I met her so she DIED.'
Annika takes a gentle run at Sigi's dad Per Gunderson (Christopher Dane) in the hospital, so far everyone we've met is 'sick' about Sigi and Ronnie together. I'm guessing we're looking for 'rage-filled.'
Per rustles up some anger. He wishes someone would gut that bastard Ronnie Kidd, which is when Annika steps in with the information that someone has done almost exactly that. That's either a genuine emotion or a brilliant double fake; he wouldn't lean into anger openly if it gave him motive, so he must be innocent! Or just that mad...
I've already written him off, it's too late. It's probably Tam. He walks away, saying "I am broken" in Norwegian.
So...Per says he didn't know, but obviously Sigi knew because she tried to commit suicide so why didn't he know? And how did Sigi find out Ronnie was dead? Did she put in the burial stone? Was Ronnie grooming some other teenage girl?
Yikes. Right after I said that, Annika calls it grooming and I have achieved Vulcan Mind Meld with a fictional character on a show filmed months ago in Scotland.
Annika heads back to the school, the head teacher lied when she talked to Annika earlier and that's just not done. You don't lie to the police about scumbags who worked for you, save that for the parents. This time Karina Williams is more forthcoming; she gave Ronnie an ultimatum: stop being a giant scumbag or you're fired and we'll go to the police.
Hey, what's your alibi, Miss Head Teacher? She went to bed with a brandy, that's not an alibi at all!
A very COVID briefing follows; Blair babysitting Morgan so on videochat with McAndrews from Glasgow. Tyrone stumps for Grant as the murderer, he likes to blow things (and perhaps people) up and has the means, motive and opportunity. Annika's not opposed, she just wants to see where Per fits in.
Where was Tam? He looks like a man who knows his way around a motorized dingy.
Blair and Morgan chat. Morgan's convinced she causes terrible things to happen to people; not in a What Can I Do To Take Personal Responsibility, more like Let's Talk Some More About How I'm the Angel Of Death. Blair offers to burn her at the stake then carefully asks about the vodka.
Morgan gives the most unlikely answer ever: she had a friend with a peanut allergy and was using the vodka to sanitize her mouth? Then liked how it made her feel.
In return for listening to this preposterous answer, Blair asks Morgan to please let Annika mother her. Because she's mothering Blair in her stead and it's totally weird.
It's true! I mother absolutely anything that stands still. I'm working on it.
Annika tells us that were Per Gunderson in a Nordic saga (Nordic sagas are the theme this week, sorry if that wasn't clear above. Sometimes I get them mixed up with Vikings but I think Nordic are more blonde?) he would be honour bound to kill all of Ronnie's family so we're watching over Grant now, right?
Per's lawyer Liz Dunbar (Shauna MacDonald) interrupts our cozy chat with Annika, so Annika hustles her down the hall to the interview room.
I'd call Liz a firecracker but that's probably gendered and condescending and man I wish I hadn't used stroppy above because she is 100% Strop.py. A great lawyer, basically! Lots of rude interrupting and ruder questions and not letting anyone answer anything, I totally want her for my lawyer when I finally snap.
Oooh Liz is Per's alibi, interesting. I know lawyers like to fight but I didn't know they went bare knuckles. Per is sprung almost immediately, both Annika and Tyrone want to hire Liz too!
Annika and Tyrone head to the pub where Sigi checked in Friday night; can a 15 year old just hang about in a pub in the Isle of Bute like it's Gossip Girl?
Poor Annika keeps trying to speak Norwegian to everyone, nobody understands what she's saying and speaks English back at her.
Turns out our Grant was there and saw Ronnie and Sigi together, lost his temper and his footing on the wagon. He got pissed, his alibi is someone who knew he had two weeks dry and was waiting for him.
It's not just Grant at the neighbourhood pub. Turns out Miss Williams, the head teacher, was kicking aboot as well. Has she not lied even once when talking to the police? That's a 100% Perverting the Course of Justice charge!
I bet she had her eye on Ronnie.
Just because of her answers.
Miss Williams has a wife, not a husband so likely did not have her eye on Ronnie BUT her wife is one Liz Dunbar. Now that lady was a screaming Valkyrie I could absolutely see murdering Ronnie Kidd. Done and dusted.
I still want her as my legal counsel when I snap. When she gets out of jail.
Liz drives up, sees Annika and Tyrone, and speeds off. She's been calling travel agencies, this here Valkyrie is about to fly.
Annika and Tyrone show up at the airfield as Liz is about to take off; Annika makes a go of talking her out of leaving. She's leaving her wife open to prosecution for obstruction, there is that...
"It's weird not putting the cuffs on" mopes Tyrone but Annika is thinking Casablanca: this is the start of a beautiful friendship.
Liz! Call me!
Liz is picked up somewhere else, McAndrews tells Oban, who tricks him into saying he missed Annika. I...don't know what to think about that.
Morgan and Annika sit in the hospital where Sigi lays, they have a nice moment where Annika offers professional help for listening. She holds her breath until Morgan agrees, aww. She even gets a "Well done on the case, you're a good mom" before the "she escaped on a plane" and more taking the piss.
That's it! We're out! Cheers, everyone, did you like the music as much as I did? It was almost its own character, the waves of singing mirroring the ocean and grief.
Until next time!