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Series / Midnight Sun (2016)

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Midnight Sun (Midnattssol / Jour Polaire) is a French-Swedish coproduced Nordic Noir series in 8 episodes, playing in Kiruna, Sweden. It was first aired in 2016 on Sveriges Television. In 2017, it aired as Midnight Sun on SBS.

A French citizen is found murdered brutally in the countryside outside Kiruna in Lapland, Sweden. The French police send specialist Kahina Zadi (Leïla Bekhti) to investigate the case together with the local police. In a place where the sun does not set, the ground shakes from mining explosions, and the entire city is scheduled to be moved because of the instability the mine has caused, the soon to be several bodies seem to be the least insane thing...

This series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Kahina is quite adept with a gun or her hands, overpowering a larger man quite easily at one point (she's a trained police detective), though things don't always go her way.
  • The Alcoholic: Sparan is the town drunk, as a means of coping with his son's death.
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent:
    • It's never said who Nadji's father was, nor what became of him. He was probably a teenager like his mother though.
    • Sparen's loss of his son is core to his character. What happened with the boy's mother is uncertain, as she's never even mentioned.
  • Beneath Notice: The killer does menial cleaning work in many places, which both permits access and being overlooked.
  • Bilingual Backfire: Anders is insulted in Sami by some young people, and then reveals with annoyance that he knows the language (being half Sami himself).
  • Boom, Headshot!: Evalina was murdered with a bullet to the back of the head.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: The first murder victim pissed himself prior to death.
  • Chained to a Railway: In episode 4, some miners receive a video of a young man chained to a railway as a train approaches.
  • Chained to a Rock: The first helicopter pilot is chained nude to rocks in a gully, where he is mauled by wolves.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Anders is half Sami, half Swede. He has mostly lived as a Swede, though he's sympathetic to the Sami. This puts him at odds toward both sometimes, as the Sami are suspicious about Swedes, who often mistreat them. Conversely, some Swedes dislike Sami and thus him too.
  • Closet Gay: Anders and Thor keep the fact the pair are a couple secret. However, Anders' daughter it turns out is fully aware of this, and supports her dad.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Kimmo, whom Kahina previously scratched when he was attacking her, later just happens to be near her in the hospital while visiting his wife when she talks about how long a DNA test from the skin under her finger nails will take. Later she recognizes him by his voice in the town supermarket. This is justifiable, as it's small.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The killer rigs up very cruel methods to use, such as tying the first man on top of a helicopter's blade as it starts up, which rips him apart.
  • Culture Clash: Algerian-born Frenchwoman Kahina is more impulsive, hot-tempered and intent on quick action, feeling frustrated by working with the staid, slow-paced Swedes at times.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Kahina is put in danger multiple times, yet always manages to escape without great difficulty, needing no rescue and often overpowering her (male) attackers as well.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Peter Stormare's character Rutger dies in the first episode after being given a lot time to establish his character and personality effectively setting him up as the third most important character after Kahina and Anders.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Anders' father left his mother after he was conceived, going off to Australia for work. It appears they've never met.
    • Evalina's father, an alcoholic, died early on. She later viewed Forsberg as a father figure, and this then became more, as she'd gotten pregnant by him by the time of her death.
  • Endless Daytime: As the title suggests, the series takes place in Kiruna, Sweden during the midnight sun, where it won't ever become dark outside until autumn which is several months away. Kahina, a Frenchwoman, has a very hard time adapting.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Nadji, Kahina's estranged son, was raised by her mother as Kahina's younger brother.
  • Forced to Watch: Sparan was tied up and made to watch as his son was drowned in front of him.
  • Hellish Copter: One is used for an execution, no less. The first victim is tied onto a helicopter's blade and killed when it starts up.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kahina is a driven, dedicated person who has earned many awards for her work as a detective as a result. However, it also means she has a temper which erupts in moments of stress.
  • I Have Your Wife: The killer kidnaps Kahina and Anders' children to blackmail them into not stopping his final plot, putting them in harm's way as extortion.
  • Illegal Religion: Anders relates that the Sami religion was suppressed in the past, with their sacred drums being burned and shamans prosecuted as witches. Because of this, shamans mostly live in hiding to this day.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Jenny-Ann, who's nearly full term, is put in harm's way multiple times. First she's knocked against a table on her belly when a fight breaks out near her (but thankfully the baby's fine). Later she's targeted for death with her child by the killer, but is rescued by the Sami.
  • Look Both Ways: One of the suspects whom Kahina's chasing runs out into the street and gets fatally struck by a car.
  • Mail-Order Bride: Sparen marries a Thai woman, Mabée, whom he met online, so she can get citizenship in Sweden.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Kahina and Thor impulsively have sex against his car when she's drunk.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Eddie interacts with his sister Evelina regularly, who's dead, and also obeys her orders. It's left unclear if she's a ghost or hallucination.
  • Missing Mom: Kahina gave up her son at her mother's urging, who raised him as her brother. He only learned the truth years later, and sought her out. He confronts her on this, and she apologizes tearfully for it, promising to build a relationship with him now.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Kahina looks like an older sister to her son Nadji, which is justified as she gave birth to him at 15. This probably helped to have him passed off as indeed being her little brother.
  • Never One Murder: The two protagonists investigate the murder of a French citizen, which turns out to be the first in a series of killings.
  • Never Suicide:
    • Evalina is related to have killed herself by jumping from a waterfall. It later turns out she really was murdered because she'd learned a secret.
    • Tardieu is made to look like he'd killed himself by taking pills. Kahina realizes he was murdered however based on prior information.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Kahina tells Kristoff that she knows what it's like for the Sami, because she's Berber, indigenous people in Algeria, and she's had much the same experience throughout her life of racism, being viewed as “other” etc. Previously too when told about the Sápmi (the Sami regions in Sweden), she then compares it with American Indian reservations. Thor says they probably wouldn't like the comparison, but says it's still pretty similar even so.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Sparen suffered it due to his son's murder. He still can't bear speaking about it in the present at first.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Rutger Burlin is murdered in the pilot, though his influence nonetheless continues over the series, and we learn much more about him.
    • Evelina never actually appears living, as she's dead when the series starts (however she's present as a ghost or hallucination of her brother's). Her life and death turn out to be key in the plot.
  • Revenge: This turns out to be the killer's motive-murdering everyone involved with his sister's murder.
  • Secret Relationship: Anders turns out to be secretly with Thor, whom his family don't know of yet (presumably he fears they might be homophobic).
  • Seers: Some of the Sami, particularly shamans, have abilities to foresee future events and or speak with the dead. In the case of shamans, this is part of their traditional work.
  • Self-Deprecation: Anders makes disparaging remarks about his character or skills whenever he's complimented.
  • Self-Injury: Kahina frequently cuts her legs and arms with a razor to let out pain over giving up her son long ago.
  • Serial Killer: The murderer whom the police are pursuing has been murdering people connected with the mine in different ways over time.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Kahina is traumatized by having given up her son, cutting herself to cope and suffering flashbacks about it.
  • Straight Gay: Anders and Thor turn out to be a couple, acting like average men no different from the rest we see. They may be bisexuals though, since Anders has a daughter from his past marriage, and Thor willingly has impulsive sex with Kahina (though she initiates it). He later propositions her to have sex again though, but she declines.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Burlin is just walking along when he collapses and dies suddenly from what turns out to be slow poisoning that only then came to effect.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Kahina became pregnant when she was just 15, later giving up her son to her mother, who pretended he was her younger brother.
  • Title Drop: Near the end, we learn Evalina before her death had written “Midnight Sun”, a poem about bad things in the area affecting the Sami. The killer uses it for inspiration.
  • Transparent Closet: Anders keeps his relationship with Thor secret, rather than tell his daughter. She knows it already though, and doesn't care at all, sympathizing with him.
  • Trauma Button: Kahina is triggered by reminders of her son whom she gave away, and she cuts herself to cope sometimes.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • A man murdered Sparen's son Johan right in front of him.
    • Kahina chases a suspect who grabs an infant and threatents to kill the child if she goes after him. Though she does anyway, no harm comes to the baby.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Burlin graphically throws up, but claims it's not from the gruesome murder scene, he just gets queasy on helicopter rides. It turns out to be from him being poisoned. Later, Anders tries to discuss his failed marriage with his daughter while she is violently throwing up from alcohol poisoning.

Alternative Title(s): Midnight Sun