I have quite a lot of opinions about this show, so there is simply no time to faff about with an introduction. On to the recap.
In the cold abyss of the Arctic lies the small, quiet town of Fortitude. Fortitude is one of the safest places on Earth; a violent crime has never been committed there. Until a professor researching Fortitude's geography is found brutally murdered in his own house.
Fortitude, in my opinion, had many problems, and its biggest problem (well, at least the one that drove me the most insane) was its lack of focus. Simon Donald, the creator of the series, had a lot of big ideas for this program. But a problem arose when he tried to implement these ideas into one succinct storyline. Throughout the first series's twelve episode arc, there were two main plot lines and about five or six smaller plot lines, causing the twelve episodes to feel extremely tedious and bogged down by the excessive amount of plot. When the many threads did eventually come together (I'm using this phrase as loosely as possible), the plot arc was far-fetching and shaky at best and still left many plot holes open. The show could have nicely wrapped up after episode six, but instead, it continued to pile on unnecessary, laborious, and dull plot line after plot line. Even if the plot arc followed just one of the main plots (say for instance the plot of how Pettigrew died, leaving the whole mammoths plot for series 2), it would have made for a more impactful series.
Another issue Fortitude had was its lack of focus with the tone of the series. There were many obvious similarities between Fortitude and Fargo - Fortitude was clearly made to be Fargo but with more polar bears. But what Fortitude failed at, and where Fargo triumphs, is the ability to turn the seriousness of the drama into a clambering mess of awkward realism. Fargo is funny (and slightly charming) because it doesn't take its dramatic elements too serious, which is something Fortitude tried to do but failed miserably. The show clearly established itself as a serious drama, taking itself far too seriously by talking about evolution and graphically cutting everything without a pulse open. Yet, randomly they would throw in these moments of awkward realism trying to make the audience laugh and lighten the tension. These created a lack of tone and atmosphere throughout the series - one minute it's mutilating people, the next it's having a comical shoot out between characters. Personally, I would have preferred the show to embrace the dark humor style of Fargo. It would have made the bad plot a little easier to stomach, at least. But then again maybe this wasn't what they were trying to achieve... Either way, I laughed at it.
One thing I will give Fortitude is it had a fantastic cast. The performances from the entire cast were bold and moving, despite working with a subpar script. In particular, I really enjoyed the performances from Richard Dormer, Jessica Raine, and Michael Gambon. Their performances captivated me throughout the twelve (looonnnnggg) episodes. And a special shout out to Stanley Tucci, who completely reinvented himself in this series. This show and this character is not the typical "Stanley Tucci" role, but his performance as DCI Morton was charming, subtle, and commanding in a way I've never seen from him.
Fortitude is a program that a casual viewer will enjoy - especially if you love snow - but from a critical perspective, it fell to pieces. If you want to watch a show that requires little thought (because if you think too much you see that it just doesn't make any sense) but looks beautiful and is mildly entertaining, this is the show for you.
Click the images below to read each article
Red Carpet Interviews
Toronto International Film Festival 2022
Film East Chats Podcast on BBC Radio Norfolk
This is a small section of episodes from the Film East podcast. Click here to listen to all episodes.