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Fortitude, Ep. 1.08 & 1.09: “Episode Eight” and “Episode Nine” sees the town’s paranoia grow

Fortitude, Ep. 1.08 & 1.09: “Episode Eight” and “Episode Nine” sees the town’s paranoia grow
Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips,  Verónica Echegui

Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Verónica Echegui

Fortitude, Season One, “Episode Eight”
Written by Ben Richards
Directed by Hettie Macdonald

Fortitude, Season One, “Episode Nine”
Written by Stephen Brady
Directed by Nick Hurran
Airs Thursdays at 10 pm (ET) on Pivot

With the mystery of Professor Stoddart’s death reaching some conclusion, the town of Fortitude seemed out of the shadows when Shirley proceeded to brutally attack her own mother. The last two episodes have examined the aftermath of both Shirley’s attack coming to light, and Frank’s attempts to come to terms with his son’s apparent criminal activity, among other things. This has resulted in the pressure cooker environment of Fortitude threatening to bubble over as the town finds itself forcefully isolated from the mainland, and has led the show down some intriguing paths.

The paranoia gripping the town in the wake of Shirley’s attack on her mother has been fascinating to watch. The small size of Fortitude has affected a number of events over the course of the season, but there has been an emphasis on how the population helps keep each other safe, whether it’s by simply providing comfort one way or another, or ensuring people are protected when they go out. The deaths of Pettigrew and Stoddart did not affect this aspect of the town, so how people deal with this will be worth keeping an eye on. The attack on the Russian individual is seen only by Julia, and Frank’s attack on Markus is only witnessed by Jules, but it’s only a matter of time before similar attacks occur, and become public knowledge. It will be intriguing to see the reactions of three individuals specifically; Governor Odegard, Sheriff Anderssen, and DCI Morton. With Hilda already disheartened by the mainland’s response to her call for emergency help, and the Glacier Hotel construction apparently on hiatus, the bubbling conflicts in the town may be enough to remove the last shred of hope she might have about Fortitude. This has the potential to spell doom for the town, for as the town meeting demonstrates, she’s still able to maintain order in a way that nobody else can, a fact that Dan points out indirectly.

Speaking of Dan, he has already demonstrated an inability to keep his emotions in check, and is already hanging by a thread due to how he treated Frank. Morton’s suspicions about what happened to Pettigrew are undoubtedly already weighing on his mind, and the combination of these factors makes him particularly susceptible to the town’s paranoia. Morton, on the other hand, has proven himself resilient to obstacles thrown his way. He is, however, clearly not welcomed in the town, as various individuals have expressed, and could find himself on the receiving end of increased hostility now that the town is fracturing. It’s unlikely that anyone will stand up for Morton in anything more than a professional capacity, which might mean that his biggest challenge in Fortitude is yet to come.

Michael Gambon

Michael Gambon

Natalie and Vincent’s discovery of the source of the cannibalism also promises to be an intriguing storyline. While the symptoms weren’t particularly evident in Liam, viewers have been able to see firsthand how the disease manifests via Shirley. With the scientists in Fortitude now cluing in to the fact that there’s something biologically wrong in the city, how the situation is handled will say a lot about the town and the people in it. The key thing to look out for will be how law enforcement decides to handle this news. Knowing what is causing individuals to attack others won’t put Dan or Hilda any closer to discovering how to track the disease, or how to detect it in others, which may force them to tell the townspeople of the infection. With the paranoia already growing, the townspeople are unlikely to react to this in a calm manner. In addition, Hilda has already had the door for emergency help shut in her face once, but it will be intriguing to see if the changing circumstances make a difference in that aspect. The presence of a disease that causes cannibalism and death is certain to invoke a different reaction than two homicides, but whether the Governor takes that to the mainland or not depends on whether she trusts them to respond appropriately. Fortitude already being written off may mean extreme measure to eradicate the issue, and if Hilda anticipates this, it might mean she’ll try to keep it contained. However, keeping a lid on this situation is a markedly more difficult issue with DCI Morton around, who has already shown a resilience in digging for the truth. Having the disease finally become a known entity thus has the possibility to send the characters down myriad paths, and it will be fascinating to observe the results of their decisions.

Overall, the show continues to be excellent, with the increased plot development over the last few episodes providing a nice contrast to the relatively slower pace at the beginning of the season. However, this is not to say that the episodes are better, as the impact of the actions and decisions of these past few episodes would not have been felt without the benefit of the characterisation that went into the earlier episodes. Frank’s torture of Markus is particularly difficult to see. While the audience is aware that the latter is being punished for the wrong crime, as Morton points out, Markus’ insistence on reshaping Shirley to fit his physical ideal was certainly taking a toll on her health, albeit in a manner that wasn’t strictly illegal. However, the torture Frank inflicts on Markus far outweighs a justifiable level of retribution for Shirley’s condition, even if that was Frank’s objective, which it wasn’t. Ronnie Morgan also continues to be compelling to watch, and hopefully the fact that he’s still alive in the supply closet of his house bodes well for his continued existence, particularly as it opens a new narrative thread about who lured him in and attacked him. The scenery itself continues to be breathtaking, with Henry’s time standing on the cliff and yelling being the best showcase. Henry’s assertion that Fortitude has become sick with something doesn’t seem far off the mark, and how the sickness manifests itself through the rest of the season promises to make for a compelling watch.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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