Nordicana 2015 – The Legacy, Season 2 Episode 1 – Review ***

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The Legacy returns with more feuding, deceit and secrets from a Bohemian Danish family.

Twelve months on from the battle over Grønnegard, Signe (Marie Bach Hansen) hosts the family as they gather for the baptism of Thomas’ (Jesper Christensen) lovechild with fragile paramour Isa (Josephine Park.) Meanwhile Emil’s (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) Thai nightmare, awaiting trial for drug possession, may be nearing an end with a sympathetic judge to hear his case. Back in Denmark the news delights elder sister Gro (Trine Dyrholm) who may finally be able to cease forging her mother Veronika’s artworks, an undertaking to fund Emil’s increasingly expensive and protracted defence.

For returning viewers the initial time jump is hugely disorientating. Whilst it has been an admirable trait of Danish drama not to simply rehash the previous series, here the unwelcome sensation is one of starting over. Signe was our eyes and ears in season one. But with her parentage uncovered and legal case settled, she seems almost like a guest in her own series, just as the character appears a guest in her own home. Elsewhere Emil’s travails in foreign climes remain monotonous. Like him we yearn to leave Thailand behind, but we would be forgiven for wanting to leave him there too.

Other characters fare better from a year’s growth. It is a delight to see repressed and emotionally constipated Frederik (Carsten Bjørnlund) mellow after time on the therapist’s couch. His greater self-awareness and improved familial communication lead to moments of great warmth and humour, yet his pettiness and avarice suggest plenty more conflict to come. Gro’s ever more daring forgeries open up intriguing ethical and personal issues. No longer eclipsed by her domineering mother, she can flex her own creative muscles, albeit using Veronika’s name. But to save Veronika’s flesh-and-blood legacy in Emil, Gro compromises her mother’s artistic legacy, and possibly the finances of the whole family. It will be fascinating to see the consequences of her well-meaning fraud.

Thomas Konrad (Jesper Christensen). Foto: Martin Lehmann / DR

But no discussion of The Legacy would be complete without its star player, Jesper Christensen’s weed addled music genius Thomas. Often both comic relief and holy fool, here we glimpse the steel and vulnerability beneath his larger than life façade. A strange dictatorial streak belies his freewheeling demeanour, provoking a withering personal attack. Seeing him hunched semi naked on the edge of the bed in its aftermath is unexpectedly moving. Christensen combines dual roles of actor and director admirably, pushing the show’s handheld aesthetic further whilst allowing the actors to do what they do best.

As a season opener, The Legacy 2 is a slow burn, but nearly earns an extra star for the gasp-inducing transformation of a family celebration into a potential tragedy. This indicates that despite first appearances things will be far from happy families at Grønnegaard over the next seven weeks.

The Legacy: Season 2 airs on Sky Arts HD every Friday at 9pm. Season 1 is available on Blu Ray and DVD now To read our interview with stars Trine Dyrholm, Marie Bach Hansen and Jesper Christensen abou the new series click here

 

David is a filmmaker, artist and failed astronaut from Birmingham, UK. His short films have been shown on BBC TV, at the BFI and at BAFTA. Only bats and small dogs are likely to have seen them. He has written for the stage and has exhibited artwork in Birmingham's municipal art gallery. Few can correctly guess his age, to his occasional annoyance.