Fortitude: Season 2 created by Simon Donald (Fifty Fathoms Products, Sky Atlantic, Tiger Aspect Productions)

Starring Richard Dormer, Björn Haraldsson, Sofie Gråbøl, Sienna Guillory, Mia Jexen, Luke Treadaway, Alexandra Moen, Darren Boyd, Ramon Tikaram, Ken Stott, Edvin Endre, Michelle Fairley, Dennis Quaid, Robert Sheehan, and Parminder Nagra.

Best Let the Mystery Be

The Christmas present, gloriously wrapped and glistening, takes on the weight of anticipation for Christmas morning. A rectangle, decorated in shiny green and maroon hues, holds a gesture of love. Someone in your family thought about you, considered your needs, remembered a passing reference to an item desired. With painstaking detail and multiple attempts at wrapping the thing, the gift transcends an object; it means relationship, love, and hope for a good future. The gift representing the fulcrum of a better year to come.

The mind plays a variety of tricks on the unsuspecting when a mystery sits at the bottom of the tree. The garden of forking paths influences the unsuspecting to dream of the multiple possibilities. A new-car-key-within-a-box-within-a-box? An iPhone? A gift card? This way. That way. Joy abounds.

Until Christmas morning. The palpable deflation of dreams-to-be crashing down, a box of socks. White. Athletic. Mostly, the dream of what can be tends to trump what actually is.

Cracking Under the Weight of Possibility

In the attempt to build from a haunting, solid first season, Season 2 of Fortitude cracks under the weight of possibility its central mystery might be. Much like its first season, the focus on detailed descriptions of the thematic mysteries it introduces limits the series.

For those burdened with spoiler concerns, especially for Season 1 read no further.

The rest of you? Here we go.

Season 2 ruminates on the aftermath of the devastating events in Season 1. A primer: global warming thaws the icepack in the Arctic settlement of Fortitude. Preserved carcasses of pre-historic animals emerge from the ice with a threat, ancient wasps that parasitically tunnel into mammals to lay eggs. As the eggs gestate, infected humans become aggressive and dangerous.

Season 2 explores how a town might recover from such an epidemic. The mayor, Hildur Odegard (Sofie Gråbøl), faces bureaucratic pressure manifested Erling Munk (Ken Stott), an official sent from Oslo. Law enforcement struggles as Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer) remains unaccounted for and Eric Odegard (Björn Haraldsson) struggles to lead effectively.

And completing the triptych, Michael Lennox (Dennis Quaid) seeks to outwit the other fisherman to maximize his catch and thus, earnings. Sitting in the back of his mind: his wife, Freya (Michelle Fairley of GOT fame), terminally ill and in need of expensive treatment for low probability of a cure.

A Red Aurora and Events Preliminarily Unexplained

Fortitude, suffering in the wake of the wasp outbreak, begins to encounter another series of unexplained murders around a rare, russet-hued aurora borealis. Local legend links the red aurora to the summoning of a demon, frightening the population.

Unfortunately, as you may surmise from my framing device, the mystery is far more interesting than the answer. Fortitude does its best to weave an interesting narrative into the crimes committed, but spiritual evil is much more interesting in theory than a scientifically explained answer.

Fortitude entertains, even if its screws are a little loose. It might not be the car keys under the Christmas tree, but at least it isn’t socks.

Verdict: 3 out of 5

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