Warning, heavy spoilers after the next photo!
At the end of the last week, the nature of the plague befalling Fortitude was alluded to. Episode 11, as it was in the UK, marks then the finale of a perplexing reimagining of the nordic noir detective drama, crossed with aspects of science thriller and person versus nature horror. The twists and turns put some viewers off, and Sky Atlantic lost about a million viewers from the premiere to the finale, but viewership follows a different model these days. It’s not just hard numbers, but the loyalty, the ‘stickiness’ of the viewers. Clearly Sky was satisfied with all of the numbers, as Fortitude has been renewed for a second season.
At the end of the penultimate episode, Vincent was trapped in a room filled with bugs that had hatched from the body of Doctor Allerdyce; dooming him, and if they were released dooming all of Fortitude. Vincent recognised this a committed himself to a path of noble sacrifice: Fill the room with gas and he’d ignite it, burning all of the bugs and him alongside. A venture more successful than he hoped, for not only was the room cleared, but against all odds he survived. Stung, and badly burnt, but alive and uninfected.
At last then, Nathalie had her answers: Not pollutants, or a disease or demonic possession, but parasitic wasp larvae, spreading by compelling their hosts. To me, this only answered part of it though. Why, after all, was young Liam Sutter murderous as if compelled, but never showed any sign of larval infection? Could Markus be right, that it was not wasps that should make us doubt the absence of a benevolent god, but the evils that lurked within mankind?
On the glacier, the Russian managed to drill down to the mammoths, but before he could investigate he was set upon by Erik desperate to retrieve the drill for his estranged wife. In what seemed like an overextended, slapstick cock-punching fist fight, the two laid into each other, until finally the Russian fell down the drilled hole to the mammoth cave, abuzz with wasps.
Elsewhere, Ronnie continued his path of pointlessness. He lived, he sought to profit from the mammoths but messed it up, tried to escape Fortitude but messed it up, and in his final moments managed to infect Elena off-screen. A tragic figure, ever-failing, never-redeemed. And so Elena, after engaging a little in this show’s handcuff fetishism, ended up assaulting Ronnie’s daughter Carrie.
Dan, upon witnessing Elena about to try and carve open Carrie’s abdomen to infect her, has a horrible dilemma: Saving the girl would mean shooting the woman he loves, is obsessed by, idolises. Dan’s anguish is palpable, but he barely hesitates: Despite everything, despite who he is, what he’s done and what he wants, the life of the child is more important. He shoots Elena.
She too survives this final episode though, even if hospitalised. In fact, considering the cull of cast in previous episodes, there were no new deaths in Fortitude this time around. The known wasp nests are purged with fire, the known infected rounded up and everyone lives. Sort of.
As the governor managed to get a communication out to the mainland about the infestation, there’s a good chance that season 2 will begin with an enforced quarantine. Vincent, Elena and Carrie are in hospital, Liam is still seemingly infected, and there’s now a nicely drilled hole to the Russian’s mammoth wasp nest. This isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination.
Overall, I enjoyed Fortitude, though it was sometimes harder work than I think it should have been. Part of this was because it seemed designed to obfuscate what kind of show it was, a problem I don’t think will continue with season 2. In fact, I think the second season has the potential to be stronger than this scene-setting series: An infected town, locked in by outsiders amidst the threat of a devastating plague of mind-controlling, zombie-generating parasitic wasps. A concept that stands on its own without being overburdened by crime drama, spiritual totems and Markus the creepy feeder.