Fortitude season one is the best

Fortitude (2015–2018) is a three season British horror drama set on a remote Norwegian island in the Arctic. One story arc flows through all three seasons. So if you watch it, you’ll need to start from episode one.

Each season has quite a different feel. The first is an ordinary crime mystery. After a man is brutally murdered the police have to find out who did it and why. I really enjoyed this season because of its realism tinged with science and the possibility of the supernatural. The twists and turns were full of surprises.

Season two is also about the hunt for a killer. I liked this season because it stayed with the islanders. By this point I was quite fond of some of the characters. The supernatural element is more pronounced in this season, with some of the characters still struggling with the aftermath of earlier events.

Season three is a mere four episodes long. By this point the horror is very plainly stated. The story focuses on wrapping things up for the characters. I liked this season the least because it felt as if the tale had much further to go.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated TV viewing experience, you might do well to stop at the end of season one. In my view it is the most finely balanced and blended of the three.

Horror makers often borrow from real world spiritual beliefs but usually do it simply to decorate their stories. They hardly ever write with any understanding of the people who hold those beliefs. The horror drama Midnight Mass was such a rare treat because the show was written by a former Catholic.

Fortitude is heavily “decorated” with superficial references to the shamanism of Arctic reindeer herders. I would be surprised if anyone from those communities recognised anything of their beliefs in the show.

Shamanism is found in great diversity worldwide, including in Korea. If you have Netflix you can watch any number of South Korean dramas that use elements of Korean shamanism and other local beliefs in their storytelling.

I don’t hold with the idea that storytellers should never ever borrow from cultures that aren’t their own. But now that we have access to so much international television, it will be much harder to borrow from other cultures without looking a bit silly.

That’s not to say that I think Fortitude is a silly show. I grew to love the characters because it has a great cast and their relationships seem very real. I also appreciated the dark humour in Richard Dormer’s scenes. Dormer is magnificent.

But I won’t say more as that would be spoilers.

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