British investigation dramas are one of a kind. Every single story in this genre is executed in a different manner, which leaves the audience surprised in most cases. Broadchurch, Sherlock, Midsomer Murders, Happy Valley, and Bodyguard are some of the prime examples of how good the shows can get if a lot of time is invested in a good screenplay and casting the right actors. Mostly, it is the BBC that is churning out great television in this genre. Adding to the list is Annika, created by Nick Walker. This limited series is a Scottish police drama about a new branch of the investigation team and their attempts to get grips with new assignments.
The ‘Maritime Homicide Unit’
The show is about DI Annika Stranded, who has been made the lead investigating officer for the ‘Marine Homicide Unit’, and she has three people who report to her about the progress of every case that comes their way. They are fairly new, based in Glasgow, and only take up cases from the coast of the town and the waters surrounding it. The scope of their jurisdiction is very limited, but it allows them to focus on each case with the utmost vigilance. Being the first team in the history of this unit, the bureaucracy and rules around it have been recently developed. This team of five is learning on the job. Annika must take up the responsibility of managing the team and the cases that come their way. It is mentioned several times in the show that she is known to have an eye for cracking difficult cases. It is not mentioned under what circumstances she had to move to this town and lead this team.
The so-called ‘Marine Homicide Unit,’ just like any investigation team, is assigned to find the cause of death, motive, and culprit. Each episode has the team solve a different murder in a runtime of 45 to 47 minutes. Since it is a small town, the entire team works diligently to get to the bottom of every case they are assigned. Each case has its complexities and intricacies, which are dealt with realistically.
Structure Of The Show
In every episode, the makers only show one image of the victim, and the rest of the story about him or her is conveyed through a third person who is generally a suspect or an acquaintance of the deceased. This is a rather unique way to present the narrative of the victim. People tend to sympathize with the dead, but in this show, as the history of the victim unfolds, we get to see that not all of them were good people. Thankfully, the makers do not justify the deaths because of who they were as people.
Each case has a unique story, and it allows us as the audience to understand the kind of people that exist around us. We choose to believe these investigation stories are based on true events that took place. The truth tends to be stranger than fiction in every case. The show also focuses on the lives of the people who are a part of the team and how their personal lives sometimes get intertwined with their professional lives. It is surprising to get a grasp of how these cases are solved without any interference from the higher authorities. There is no appeasement or agenda behind putting someone in jail.
Annika’s Scandinavian Heritage
Annika, the lead of this unit, is the single mother of a teenage girl named Morgan. The young girl is going through typical rebellious phases. Morgan is acting out because of her mother’s sudden move to this town, where she must start rebuilding her life from scratch. The highlight of the show is Annika breaking the third wall and speaking to the camera about her life and the choices she has made so far. She also questions her parenting style by talking to the audience. Breaking away from the Fleabag style of narrative, here we get to watch how Annika tends to take the audience through her mindset and kind of justifies her moves.
Annika, at various points, talks about stories from Scandinavian folklore and connects them to the case that is assigned to them. She is proud of her Norwegian heritage and never stops narrating it to her daughter. Although she refused to move with her parents back to their home country, there is a sense of pride she carries in calling herself someone of Viking heritage. Her anecdotes are fascinating and take the narrative forward. She also has her vices and issues, which she is trying to deal with.
Annika And Her Relationship With Morgan
Annika wants to be the cool mother who approves of her daughter’s choices, but she ends up acting like a typical mother who wants to control Morgan’s life. Annika has been accepting of the fact that Morgan is gay, but somewhere their basic communication as mother and daughter does not exist. It is when Morgan starts heading to therapy that Annika understands the magnitude of the issues she has caused her daughter. Annika is not a harmful person but is a product of another generation who is trying to amend her parenting skills.
Annika ends up having a crush on the therapist, Jake. Morgan is initially embarrassed by her mother’s choices but quickly understands that her mother cannot be single all her life. She requests that Annika change her therapist. The daughter knows Annika is fond of the therapist and encourages her to pursue him. They end up dating eventually, but Jake realizes that Morgan probably wants him around her because she feels he understands her predicament. Annika and he end up taking a break for Morgan’s betterment. The chemistry between them was beautiful. Hopefully, Annika and Jake will come back together as a definite couple in the next season. As they keep solving cases, their personal lives go through the usual ups and downs. Annika slowly comes to terms with the fact that her daughter does not see a friend in her. Morgan becomes close to Blair, Annika’s colleague. Morgan also gets into a relationship with Blair’s younger sister, Erin. Blair, on the other hand, is also trying to strike a balance between mother and daughter.
DS Tyrone Clarke is trying hard to fit into the police force after serving time with the border force. He feels left out in the group, but Annika, being a good team leader, allows him to grow into an efficient investigating officer even when he makes tiny mistakes along the way. Michael and Annika have been contemporaries in the field in which they have served for a long time. He feels a slight resentment when she is assigned to be the leader of the MHU. But slowly, they restore their friendship until a crucial case requires their involvement. It involves Michael’s brother, Adie McAndrews.
How Does Season 1 End?
Adie is the prime suspect in the murder of his ex-partner, Viola McCaskill. Since Adie had a history of being violent with her after their separation, the police had to point a finger at him. Michael is taken off the case because of the conflict of interest that will arise. He will be partial toward his brother, which will render the investigation unfair. Slowly, the case heads in another direction when tattoo artist Leila’s name gets involved, and the case takes another route. As usual, Annika can crack the case, but for the first time, she is worried for her life as the culprit, Lee, kidnaps her. The last episode ends tragically when Lee kills himself with a hand grenade. Thankfully, Annika was saved by her colleagues at the right time. The whole case proves that no one feels safe at this juncture. Their team is hardly a year old, but their line of work puts them in danger. Season one ends with Annika being rescued and her daughter feeling a sense of relief that her mother has achieved something big. In her eyes, Annika is a hero.
Hopefully, season two will follow that same structure and further address the personal lives of the team. Maybe we will see some new investigation officers joining the ‘Maritime Homicide Unit’. The first season ended on a subtle yet satisfying note. The character arc of the protagonist is interesting, and we are curious about where her life will lead from here on. Season two of Annika has begun, and we want to see what the makers have in store for the audience.