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Series / The Method

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The Method (Russian: Метод) is a 2015 Russian Detective Drama directed by Yuri Bykov, produced by Konstantin Ernst and Alkesandr Tsekalo (who also appears in a bit part) and starring Konstantin Khabensky and Paulina Andreeva.

Rodion Meglin is an eccentric police investigator, renowned for three things: his hands-on, borderline brutal, approach to investigation, specialization in Serial Killer cases and solving the unsolvable. When he apprehends a killer of her fellow law school graduate, Yesenya Steklova decides that an internship with Meglin is her best bet to learning the skills she needs to solve the case of her mother's murder which she was a witness to a long time ago.

Surprising everyone, the Cowboy Cop agrees. They fight crime as Meglin gradually turns the idealistic Yesenya into a copy of himself by dragging her along into brutal cases, up to and including using her as bait for the Villain of the Week.

The creators have waved off any allegations of ripping off Dexter, if anything, it's closer to MPD Psycho in tone and treatment of Gorn.

Having won several American awards as Best Foreign Criminal Drama, it, along with several other series from the same producers, may be coming to Netflix in 2017, which was interesting considering that the Russian Duma was debating legislation in 2016 that threatened to make watching Netflix IN Russia impossible. Up until March 2022, Netflix was available in Russia with the company axtively targeting expansion in Russia. However, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine in that year changed things again and Netflix officially became unavailable following Western sanctions and Putin's clampdown on the media. (Unofficially, however, all things remain possible). So the idea of Russian TV series becoming available to Western channels is not immediately feasible.

A second season premiered on Russia's Channel One on November 8th, 2020.

This series contains examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Rodion is a moderately common name in modern Russia. Yesenya is a rarely-used diminutive form of Yesenia, an already rare name.
    • The series finale discusses the fact in-universe.
  • And the Adventure Continues: When the Framing Device wraps up, Yesenya takes over Meglin's 'department', files and 'graduates' as The Mastermind, aka You Can't Catch Me resurfaces.
  • Alleged Car: Meglin owns diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz W123. May count as Cool Car.
  • Always Murder: Subverted. In the Dachnik case nobody even dies!
  • The Atoner: Meglin buys a cactus for every person he's had to kill, in the line of duty or otherwise. His apartment is overflowing with them.
    • In a meta sense, the very reason he ended up as an investigator.
    • Several killers have their own little rituals they do after each death, seemingly showing belated remorse for what they've done.
  • The Apprentice: Yesenya to Meglin. She and her father are the only ones who call her apprenticeship an 'internship', in fact.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Used to introduce the key players in one of the cases.
  • Back for the Dead: As of Season 2, Sasha.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Meglin doesn't always flash his badge when talking to witnesses or suspects, and invents occasionally outrageous introductions for himself and Yesenya. She eventually learns to do that too.
    Meglin: "And this is my lovely wife. Beautiful, isn't she? Too bad she always laments about the size of her breasts, maybe you can help me convince her?"
  • Bedlam House: Played for drama. The psych clinic Meglin reports to for his checkups and which also houses several of unrecoverable "graduates", is run-down and messy, but for lack of funding, not a lack of intent to help from the staff. Spending two days there in wait for a suspects leaves Yesenya sympathetic with his refusal to check himself in to get stable help.
  • Better than Sex: Yesenya describes the feeling of mutilating one of the killers this way, indicating her becoming no different from Meglin.
  • Betty and Veronica: Zig-zagged. The two guys Yesenya has the closest to 'boyfriend' status trade places as her character is warped by Meglin's influence.
    • Zhenya starts out as the Veronica, he's a 'bad boy' womanizer with a drug habit and he's the one who gets her on the thought train of apprenticeship to Meglin in the first place. Later on, he becomes the Betty as the only one she can even talk to outside of work.
    • Sasha starts out as the Betty, being a By-the-Book Cop wannabe and as opposed to Yesenya's apprenticeship like her father is. Becomes the Veronica as she distances herself from the life she had as a student and the relationship he thought they had.
  • Boxed Crook: It's unclear what his exact thought process was, but the guy that recruited Meglin into the police seemed to have been rearing him into a pet assassin at first. It's a miracle he turned out to be as compassionate as he is when he meets Yesenya.
  • Break the Cutie: Yesenya goes from an idealist pursuing justice into as much of a Knight in Sour Armor as her chosen mentor is.
    • The Deaf Man aids Meglin because he helped him avenge his family in the past. He's not a "graduate", but not quite a vigilante either.
  • Byronic Hero: Meglin. Zhenya, the drug-using classmate of Yesenya's, is implied to be on the path to becoming one.
  • Catchphrase: Meglin's "What do you see?"
    • He inherited it from the doctor that helped him to learn to blend in.
    • The Mastermind's "You Can't Catch Me", which Yesenya and Sasha end up using as his nickname.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The black pencil Yesenya always uses to tie her hair up and takes crime scene notes with, throwing her hair loose whenever she pulls it out? It's used as a Once an Episode for half the series before she starts stabbing people with it, once as an Improvised Weapon and then as a habit.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Nikolai, the pyromaniac "graduate", introduced as part of an introduction to the graduates for a few sad one-off jokes about alcoholism and coping with wanting to be a serial killer. He falls off the wagon towards the end of the series, though it is mitigated somewhat in that he only kills other graduates.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Season 2 gives us the deranged and brain-damaged Meglin Back from the Dead.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Meglin berates other cops for negligence in ridiculously over-the-top ways, which many take offense to before seeing that he applies the same judgement to himself. Most of the time.
    Meglin: "What is this? Is this one of yours?"
    Local cop (proudly): "Well, yeah, he's posing as a bum, train stations have bums, right?"
    Meglin: "Then why doesn't he smell? You know how they smell, yes?"
    Local cop: "What, you're saying I should roll him around in shit or something?"
    Meglin: "I'm saying he shouldn't smell like deodorant, at least. Shit would help a lot."
  • Companion Cube: The pencil Yesenya uses to hold up her hair in a knot. Meglin has his hip flask and cigarette case.
    • Gets a step up when we learn that Meglin's flask and case become Yesenya's Tragic Keepsake and when we see Meglin sharpening her pencil for her after she's used it as a weapon.
  • Corner of Woe: One scene in the Framing Device has Yesenya sit in the corner of the interrogation room huddled up as much as possible.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death interspersed with Cool and Unusual Punishment: Every instance of Ironic Death and one terrifying case of Torches and Pitchforks.
  • Death by Irony: The Saturday Killer (Subbotnik) kills his victims in a way he considers ironic - waterboarding a drug dealer with acetone, drilling the eardrums of a man that drove his neighbours up the walls with his apartment renovation, exploding a firecracker in a dominatrix's intimates, etc.
    • Some of the deaths the Mastermind orchestrates rely on this, such as mimicking the MO of a Serial Killer to kill him to get Meglin's attention.
  • Death by Origin Story: Meglin's parents, Yesenya's mother.
  • Death of a Child: Several cases have children as victims.
  • Defective Detective: Meglin is a borderline alcoholic, and Yesenya is quickly catching up. On top of that Meglin has an unspecified brain problem which causes migraines and hallucinations, leading him to black out from the pain at plot-appropriate moments.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Yesenya wasn't all roses even before she met Meglin, but together they form a monstrous combination of maladjustment.
  • Does Not Like Guns: For a cop, Meglin is pretty strict about this. It takes a while for him to impart the idea to Yesenya.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Meglin's first appearance demonstrates his cold attitude towards other cops, his capacity for empathizing with both the victim and the killer, and his preference for talking the killer down if the option is available. The second episode demonstrates he's equally willing to brutally and efficiently slaughter them if talking is off the table.
  • Eye Scream: Some victims end up this way. One case ends with Yesenya putting out the eyes of her attacker when she's used as bait and he bites too soon.
    • A crazed yet brilliant clothing designer sewed his eyes up when the 'crazy' part overpowered the 'brilliant'. It had a profound impact on the sanity of his family.
  • Fan Disservice: Some of the victims are shown in inappropriate detail before, after and during they're drenched in blood and gore. Or burned alive.
  • Fanservice: There's a fair bit of full-frontal female nudity that is blood-free, though.
  • Fed to Pigs: One killer uses his Rottweilers for Disposing of a Body.
  • Fingore: One killer's wife, upon learning what her husband did, and where he got her all this jewelry, does not hesitate to try and cut off her finger when one of the rings gets stuck on it when she tried to remove it.
  • Follow the Leader: The series has been accused of borrowing from Dexter, even though the only remotely comparable between the two is the notion of a Detective Drama with lots of Gorn.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Framing Device implies Yesenya will survive whatever threats she faces with (or in) Meglin with at least all her limbs intact. Sanity, not so much.
  • Freudian Excuse: A high percentage of the killers in the series.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Neither lead shows much hesitation in hurting the Villain of the Week most of the time, Pay Evil unto Evil and all that.
  • Gorn: The show milks its 18+ rating for all its worth, in a first for previously puritanical Russian Channel One, which produced the series.
  • Hallucinations: Meglin gets these sometimes, either showing him his vision of the killer's logic or where he sees the face of My Greatest Failure before him.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The titular method is pretty simple: Meglin gets in the headspace of the next mentally unhinged person doing nasty things to people in order to either track them to their lair or predict the pattern and prevent the next attack. The catch is that his brain damage makes him hallucinate the killer's Freudian Excuse most of the time.
    • It's made painfully clear that Meglin considers himself no different from those he pursues. It is why he is so torn up about what happened to Olya and so proud-yet-harsh on his "graduates" - he knows they don't kill, but he also knows how easy it is to slip off the wagon.
    • Yesenya's Break the Cutie is also taking her down this road, although she appears more remorseful about it. It's implied that once, so was Meglin.
  • How We Got Here: The Framing Device is a debriefing of Yesenya by two Men in Black after her internship is over. The exact nature of the inquiry is deliberately kept vague until the final episode: they suspect, but cannot prove, that Meglin didn't commit suicide, but rather was a Mercy Kill by Yesenya.
  • I Am Who?/Tomato in the Mirror: The series finale reveals that Olga Berestova was the real name of Yesenya's mother, and she was kept out of jail by her husband's connections while another took the fall, protected by having already been committed to a mental institution. Hence, Yesenya inherited her Insane Equals Violent qualities and that and the fact that Meglin was her mother's killer was why he took her on as an apprentice.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: One killer is remorseful about the fact that his victims were killed by accident, he even plants trees over their otherwise unmarked graves. Sadly, the plural in there is what attracts Meglin to the case in the first place.
  • Idiot Ball: You have the wounded serial killer you are chasing who has already killed the one that shot them cornered and pleasing for help. Why would you ever holster your gun and try to look at their wound without waiting for your backup if you can't see their hands?
    • The Season 2 premiere seems to be built on handing these out to many of the cast members to remind us that they can't catch anyone without Meglin.
  • Improvised Weapon: One killer's item of preference is a screwdriver. Another favors random everyday objects to facilitate Death by Irony. A third uses a knitting needle.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: A variation - the progress of Meglin's deteriorating health is shown by the migraines and hallucinations he experiences, and they intensify in strength and frequency as the story goes on.
  • Intimate Healing: Played for drama. At first, Yesenya tries to use her encounters with Zhenya as this, but he eventually calls her out on using him for sex only, and she turns to drinking instead.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Played with. Some killers are straight examples, some kill by accident, unaware of what they were doing. As someone on the receiving end of this, Meglin also discusses it with Yesenya on several occasions.
  • In-Series Nickname: Meglin's "graduates", as he calls them. It's implied they're people he's managed to prevent from becoming Serial Killers, some of them don't even know he's a cop! Sadly, some of them fall off the wagon from time to time.
    Yesenya: "Were you her student?"
    Meglin: "We've all learned from each other at one point or another."
    Yesenya: "But you weren't in her yearbook photos, were you her graduate or what?"
    Meglin: "As a matter of fact, she was one of mine."
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Both the Saturday killer and his copycat. Arguing Social Darwinist theories online and coming to morally questionable conclusions is one thing. Going on killing sprees to prove your theories is Dostoyevsky-grade wrong.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Meglin is apparently type two, a born cynic. Yesenya evolves into type one as Break the Cutie sets in.
    • That said, they both have shades of light. Meglin is excessively gentle and kind with most surviving victims (creating a crazy Mood Whiplash when he first touchingly promises a survivor of one killer's attack to bring her assailant to justice — and then brings him in, blinded and delirious from the pain of it) and a Friend to All Children whenever he's not in Comedic Sociopathy mode. Yesenya stops him from killing a Villain of the Week once (then begs him to let her kill another).
  • Lawman Gone Bad: One of the cases has a cop as the killer. Another has a cop's son, who was driven to crime because his father was a Corrupt Cop.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Meglin apparently owns only one coat - when he's wounded, the gash in his sleeve (along with the poorly washed-out bloodstain) remains there for the remainder of the series.
  • The Lost Lenore: Anyuta's death affects three of her classmates into action in different ways. Yesenya goes to become Meglin's apprentice. Sasha decides to find The Man Behind the Man, while Zhenya, after floundering around, becomes a detective on his own, although he tries to aid the other two whenever he isn't pissing them off with his unhealthy habits.
  • Man on Fire: Multiple instances of death by flames are shown. In an interesting turns, one such death is shown only in an On the Next stinger, but not in the actual episode it advertises.
  • Mood Whiplash: Even at his most dramatic, Meglin will not let the viewer forget he's a messed-up person.
    Meglin: "Let me talk to him. You go in there, guns blazing, he has a little girl hostage. Will you take that sin on your soul? Can you?"
    SWAT Officer: "No, I cannot. Stand down, men." (retreats)
    Meglin (smiles): "Well, I can." (goes after the suspect)
  • Must Have Nicotine: Played with. Meglin is a chain smoker and his positively ancient beat-up cigarette case is filled with mismatched cigarettes he obviously filched off people. He picks one at random whenever he needs a smoke, be it a Marlboro or a Vogue. When the cigarette case ends up in Yesenya's possession, she seems to smoke for the memory of Meglin than the actual nicotine.
  • My Greatest Failure: Meglin is genuinely distraught over the fate of a woman he convicted (and who was institutionalized instead) in one of his first cases. Yesenya ends up meeting her when she lands in the same Bedlam House. See also The Scapegoat below.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Apparently intentionally invoked. The episodes premiered in pairs of two, and the On the Next spots intermix scenes from the next week's episodes making them appear to be different from what the real order of events will be, thus averting Trailers Always Spoil.
    • They also sometimes show scenes that aren't actually shown in the episode they advertise, though their consequences are.
  • Noodle Incident: However it is Yesenya's mother died is exceptionally vague and her father is dead set on keeping it that way for some reason.
  • Once an Episode: With variations showcasing the Character Development of the leads.
    • The local cops complain about these Moscow know-it-alls.
    • Meglin's Catchphrase and Sherlock Scan evolves to a point where he's showing off Yesenya's grasp of The Method more than using it himself.
    • Yesenya defending Meglin's actions before The Men in Black or her father.
    • Meglin's hallucinations intervening in the investigation or propelling the story arc of Olya - notably it's always either one or the other, they coincide only once.
    • Yesenya's hair-supporting pencil graduates to When All You Have Is a Hammer… some time after she uses it as an Improvised Weapon.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most killers the protagonists deal with have some sort of media-assigned moniker. A more regular example in Glukhoi (The Deaf Man), Meglin's confidant. In many cases, the killer's real name isn't revealed at all, leaving the viewers with just the moniker as well.
  • Passing the Torch: It takes a while for Yesenya to realize Meglin is training her to be his replacement.
  • Playing Against Type: Pretty much everyone who isn't a one-off background cop character.
    • The rotund jovial Aleksandr Tsekalo as the killer of Yesenya's classmate in the first episode sets the tone for the entire series.
    • Played surprisingly straight with Igor Savochkin's character, abducting girls to Stockholm Syndrome them into becoming his adopted daughters. His character on Night Watch was similarly aloof and disconnected with reality.
  • Pyromaniac: One of Meglin's "graduates" we get to see is a pyromaniac who works at a scrapyard and sublimates his urges into burning dummies. He's also used as an example of what happens when one of the graduates goes rogue.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: School shootings are a relatively recent thing for Russia, 'imported' in a sense due to higher degree of integration into the world news field. Hence, the episode about a school shooting, showong what sort of person would it take to do one.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Multiple instances, from the teacher funneling her hatred for her work into defacing yearbook photos of her students, to the Stalker Shrine one Villain of the Week devotes to Yesenya, to the crochet-doll-filled den of the killer who makes dolls from the clothing of his victims.
  • Running Gag: Multiple, mostly in the banter of the leads.
    • Yesenya snarking at Meglin's Catchphrase of "What do you see?".
    • Yesenya joking about Meglin's cactus collection. Grows increasingly darker when she learns its story... And changes the jokes accordingly, to show her Character Development is not taking her to a nice place.
    • Meglin's Bavarian Fire Drill introductions of Yesenya.
    • Meglin being an asshole to someone in clear violation of safety rules, most often a beat cop, in a bout of Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: Meglin. He's not proud of it, but sometimes it's better than letting them back out into the wild because there's not enough evidence for a conviction.
    Yesenya: "What happened to him? The one you had to let go?"
    Meglin: "He became a cactus, of course."
    • The Mastermind cons one of Meglin's graduates into this in an attempt to get Meglin to kill them too. Grey-and-Grey Morality abounds.
  • The Scapegoat: Olga "Olya" Berestova, for reasons unknown. Double subverted. She's not even guilty of the original crime she was convicted of, nor is she even the real Olga. She IS guilty of a crime, however, which is how she was conned into accepting the blame. See also Tomato in the Mirror.
  • Scar Survey: A non-sexual case, Yesenya studies Meglin's collection of bullet and knife wounds after she patches up yet another one.
  • Scenery Porn: A subdued example - their cases take them around a lot of cities and small towns, having fun with showing off views of Glorious Mother Russia.
    • Scenery Gorn: ...or showing the disrepair of post-Soviet times, or juxtaposing the beauty of nature with yet another freakish crime scene.
  • Sherlock Scan: Deconstructed. It looks like this to outside observers, but Meglin isn't looking for what's instantly going to solve the case, he's focusing on what doesn't fit at the crime scene. Yesenya has to work against her preconceptions to grasp this idea, but ends up proudly showing off in front of common cops. What they don't realize is that Meglin is a Sink or Swim Mentor, he drills her relentlessly into it.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Played for laughs.
    One-Shot Character: "But how DO you land an internship with Meglin? I applied and he turned me down, even though I'm a certified sharpshooter, fit as a fiddle and my track record is great! What does it take?"
    Yesenya: "Do what I did, sleep with him."
    • Ultimately Double Subverted: While she does share his bed once she moves in with him, they do not have sex, so it's a case of Exact Words - they do sleep together, but they do not sleep together. But then they eventually do.
  • The Snark Knight: Both leads, to varying degrees.
  • That One Case: The murder of Yesenya's mother. It is her sole motivation at the start of the series, and Meglin apparently knows more about it than he lets on.
    • Anyuta's murder becomes this for Sasha as he thinks solving it will negate Yesenya's reasons for following Meglin.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The Series.
  • Title Drop: Meglin's "Method" of catching the perpetrators is brought up every time a non-major character talks about him.
    Yesenya: "There is no method, is there? You just get drunk on government payroll and kill maniacs?"
    Meglin: "Strictly speaking, it's also a method, isn't it?"
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Yesenya and her friend Anyuta. Who is brutally murdered in the first episode.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Apparently, Meglin became a Serial-Killer Killer first and police officer second. He was recruited off death row. He first did a stint in the army though, to get combat training.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Future!Yesenya is shown drinking from Meglin's hip flask and smoking cigarettes out of his cigarette case.
  • Tragic Villain: Opera singer Ptakha murders his former patrons, seeking revenge for years of horrific child abuse.
  • The Un Favourite: One twin does well in school. The other doesn't. One stays at home, the other runs away and starts helping a maniac. And all because of the way their mother treated them.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Meglin used to be partners with Yesenya's father, but that didn't quite work out.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: We don't know what Yesenya's pencils are made of, but they should make swords and armour out of that stuff considering what she does with them over the course of the series.
  • Working the Same Case: Occurs when two series of murders in the same area with different M Os turn out to be two aspects of one killer's Freudian Excuse.
    • The series finale also uses this, when Zhenya reveals his part in the taskforce to capture an escaped killer that turns out to be actively hunting Meglin.
  • You Killed My Father: Meglin witnessed his parents' murder as a child. When he grew up, he found and butchered the one that did it.