If our eyes had started to adjust to the Swedish light, the foreign landscape beginning to look a little less exotic, Wallander’s writers were ready for us with The Dogs Of Riga.
Kurt Wallander set his sights on Riga in this series' second episode
This week saw them packing Kurt’s suitcase and sending him off to Latvia’s capital, making the formerly bleak landscape of his home seem positively green and pastoral in comparison - led there by the appearance of two bodies in a raft (this series seems to like its at-sea openings) that washed up not far from home.
Before long, he was clinking glasses with Latvian Police Colonel Maj Karlis Liepa – not actually Latvian, obviously, because he was quite clearly the furrowed-brow TV news editor from Borgen, whose casting was surely a big tick of approval for this foreign version of a home-grown Nordic favourite.
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Liepa soon matched Wallander for existential angst, even parking himself photogenically on the dock with a bottle of whisky. You know you’re depressed when even Wallander’s telling you, “You can’t start thinking like that.”
It turned out Wallander’s power of positive thinking was a little premature. Within ten minutes he was paying his respects at the enigmatic Colonel’s funeral in Riga, and brushing hands with his recently bereaved wife Baiba (Ingeborga Dapkunaite).
“Widows are very beautiful,” one dour Latvian policeman observed sagely, and so it proved.
Baiba Liepa was the classic vulnerable, beautiful widow - how could Wallander resist?
It all got a bit frantic in the last half an hour - lots of running in high heels, jumping on buses and avoiding men in sunglasses… and, sadly, a bit obvious. The good blokes turned out to be bad, while the seedy ones he’d been running away from… well, we’ve all seen Scooby Doo.
In the middle of all this, we found Wallander in a situation that was surprising but hopeful - some ruffled sheets and a long meaningful stare proved that the beautiful widow had indeed worked her charms. If this felt rather soon after her beloved husband’s death, at least Wallander was getting a little warmth.
Because… one of the big unspokens of this episode was – where was Vanja, Wallander’s on-off flame, last seen happily unpacking boxes in their rural idyll? It seemed their counselling session in the last episode basically undid their domestic bliss, at least for the moment.
The other big question was if Wallander would ever be able to deal with the plight of his colleague Anne-Britt. Although the opening found him sitting forlornly at her hospital bedside, he later diverted all discussion of her back to the case he was working on.
It seems that a) Wallander really does likes his women best contained firmly in the context of a case, and b) some things are still too much for him to discuss, so his rage has to find other outlets - during, in this episode, the wonderful sight of him shouting into his alarm clock. Yes, it was bugged, but I have a feeling he would have done it anyway.
Wallander continues next Sunday evening - 9pm, BBC1