Ignore Amazon's production description about 66 safe deposit boxes being broken into as this is the plot of season one. Season two revolves around a secret film showing an African dictator shooting to people in cold blood. The film if made public could bring down both the Dictator and the Belgian Government plus a number of the dictators European backers who have bankrolled him for a share in his country's diamond mines. Above average thriller with our hero Paul Gerardi once ago fighting almost on his own to bring the truth to light.
Salamander is Belgian. Belgian? I hear you mutter. Flemmy Noir? Never heard of it, you say! Actually, this Flemish crime show was handpicked by the BBC to replace its Scandi Noir offerings like ‘The Killing’ and ‘The Bridge’. One of the nice things about Belgian telly is that it has had very little exposure outside of…err…Belgium. Which is a good thing because, although many of Salamander’s actors are hopelessly over exposed in their own small country, they are virtually unknown to us. Like the Scandi actors before them, I take this to be a big positive.
So, what are we in for here in Series 2? As you may well not have seen the first series, here is a bit of catchup. Our hero, Police Inspector Paul Gerardi (played by Filip Peeters), investigates the theft of documents (they left everything else) from safety deposit boxes in a bank. No-one is co-operating and eventually he discovers the owners are all members of a secret cabal (fascists slash Freemasons) called Salamander – Belgium’s judicial, political and financial elite. Now in Season 2, Chief Inspector Gerardi investigates the murder of a political refugee, Leon Tchite, who is involved somehow in a blood diamonds situation. Inevitably, Salamander is somehow also involved.
So how does ‘Salamander’ compare to the immediate competition from Scandi Noir? The plotting is simpler and there are fewer personal life complications from the lead characters which are often just plain irritating in stuff like ‘The Bridge’. And from a purely tonal point of view this is far less ‘noir’ than the Scandinavian stuff – it happens largely in normal daytime and well-lit places. 10 fifty minute episodes. 4 stars.
A gripping and entertaining series, with interesting Belgian locations, which makes a change, and a broad range of characters, including an evil granny, an ambivilent secret service man called Vic and a, supposedly savvy and experienced high-class tart, whose decision-making would embarrass a child, completed by an appealing, but pig-headed heroe who stumbles around like a bull in a china shop, and his two naive and idotic daughters who are really too stupid to be allowed out on their own. The usual slick, slaarlem ride of improbable twists and co-incidences, ending with a fairy-tale ending. Yeh, as if. I know that a bleak and nihalistic conclusion would have been hard to stomach, but we're all grown ups here and know that evil is seldon, if ever, punished.