Having re-watched the first episode of Fortitude, there are some marked differences between that and this second episode. It helps that they’ve stopped trying to cram bear imagery and references into every other shot. But, there’s also a difference in pace, tone and, seemingly, budget. While the first episode awed us with dramatic visuals of snow and ice, the second kept things much smaller, more internal.
Similarly, the first episode was described by some as too sprawling, with it’s large ensemble cast and multi-stranded narrative. Episode two though focuses much more tightly on the investigation of the murder of Chris Eccleston's Charlie Stoddard. DCI Morton, in a solid turn for Stanley Tucci
, continues to try and peel away the layers of lies surrounding the events, while continually being stymied by the secretive Sheriff.
Other than the murder, we are reminded frequently in this slightly exposition-heavy episode that ‘you cannot die here’. Those who are dying, like Michael Gambon’s Henry Tyson, are legally obliged to return to the mainland. The reason is that the permafrost preserves everything perfectly, no rot or decay. We are told, somewhat unsubtly, that there are bodies in the cemetery that still have The Plague in them; it’s a forensic treasure house. This, mostly, is the only nod this time back to the disease emanating from the thawing mammoth.
There was solid use of silences were needed, and it was largely devoid of sudden shocks and revelations, just one layer after another. So, while the second episode of Fortitude may have been slower, the progress is solid. I think there’ll be some revelations thawing from the permafrost in short order.