1864, Episode 5 and 6 – Review ***

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Following the retreat from Dannevirke, the Danish troops move North but a snowstorm slows their path, making them easy targets for the Prussians. Peter and his group are soon taken over by a group of mounted Hussars but Captain Dinesen (Johannes Lassen) manages to save his men and kill their assailants. Meanwhile, Laust nearly dies after trying to retrieve a cannon from a frozen lake; his health quickly deteriorates causing him and his men to fall behind. Luckily, the delay allows them to avoid the manslaughter during the Battle of Sankelmark. Back home, pregnant Inge sets off with friend Sofia with the hope of reaching Laust at the front. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen the realisation of the impending massacre seems to finally hit the deluded Monrad. But not quite, for he takes the decision of removing the General who ordered the retreat from Dannevirke from his position. The command is given to General Gerlach who is in no way capable of taking decisions in matters of war – exactly what Copenhagen wants since if he cannot decide for himself, the government will tell him what to do. As it was expected, the Prussians unleash their full strength in their plan to annihilate the Danes.

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When Inge and Sofia finally reach Dybbøl they are met with the devastation of the war front. Everywhere there is death and destruction, yet, according to Copenhagen, Dybbøl must be defended no matter what. Inge meets a distraught Didrich who lies about the brothers Peter and Laust and tells her that they have both perished. Laust is indeed on his deathbed but Peter still refuses to reconcile with him. Back in the present day, Claudia makes a peculiar discovery concerning her ancestors – we learn that she is the grand grand grand daughter of Peter and Sofia (the gypsy girl who has helped Inge reach Dybbøl). Laust is mysteriously -to say the least- saved by psychic Johan, and later on he is back with his regiment. There follows an attack by Peter’s squad against the Prussian orchestra who has been keeping the troops’ morale up with their music. Finally, we witness the (non) negotiations between the Danes and the Prussians, chaired by British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. After a failed attempt of a peace talk, Palmerston asks the Prussians whether there could be at least a merciless solution, to which the reply is: “was there ever a merciless war?”. The future looks pretty grim for next week’s final two episodes…

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By far these two episodes have turned out to be the most far-fetched we have seen so far. There is no doubt that 1864 has proved itself to be a fresh new voice in the scape of period dramas. Still, some scenes have gone so far over the thin line of what’s believable and what’s not that there were moments when all you could think was ‘is that REALLY happening?’. These moments range from weird supernatural manifestations, i.e. Johan ‘magically’ saving Laust from certain death, or, again, Johan reading the future; to revealing turning points worthy of a cheap telenovela, i.e. Claudia discovering that she is in fact a distant relative of the brothers Peter and Laust. True, you definitely did not expect half the things you saw in these two episodes, but for the most part they were so absurd that they ended up being almost ridicule. We really hope that this was a slightly weird detour (did the writers ate hallucinogenic mushrooms?!) and that the final two episodes will be back on track for the grand finale.

Elisa was born in the small town of Udine, Italy, where she made her first short films. Aged 18 she moved to London where she achieved a degree in Film & Broadcast Production with her film "A Tragedy", based on William Shakespeare's "Macbeth". She recently pursued a Master degree in Screenwriting for TV and Film thus joining the group of struggling writers. Ssst! She's brainstorming.