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Editor’s note: As we gear up for the US premiere of ‘Johan Falk Season 2′, we gave writer Allison Lowe Huff the enviable task of binge watching every Johan Falk movie ever, starting with the three original films that make up the aptly-titled ‘Johan Falk Trilogy’. Viewers familiar with Falk may learn a thing or two from these recaps, and new viewers (you’re in for a treat!) should watch the original ‘Johan Falk Trilogy’ first before digging into Allison’s unique take on this insanely entertaining and supremely suspenseful Swedish series!

At a Glance: The Johan Falk Trilogy

I don’t know why Johan Falk, beloved Swedish policeman in the long-running series of the same name, must always just happen onto his biggest cases – he’s already a cop! – but that’s how they seem to come to him. He can’t even step out of his apartment without getting involved in a major crime and putting himself, his loved ones and, one time, even Santa Claus, in mortal danger with his unblinking quest for justice. This is Falk in a nutshell, and while it may be enough information for the casual viewer to dip in at any point of the series and be up to speed, real crime show lovers will want to start with the three original films that make up the Johan Falk Trilogy in order to pick up the subtle but essential background of this baby-faced supercop. For example:

Zero Tolerance
When Johan arrives in Gothenburg to join the local police squad (it’s so cool to watch a Swedish show set here), his reputation as a lone wolf has preceded him. Formerly of the National Swedish Task Force, he seems ready to be part of a team, even enjoying the occasional dip-in-pot and dip-in-bed with his colleague, Anja. It’s after one of these encounters, however, that a late-night Christmas Eve Burger King run turns deadly when Johan witnesses a robbery in progress and ends up killing one perpetrator and becoming the mortal enemy of another, one Leo Gaut.

Johan Falk Trilogy - "Zero Tolerance"

It’s Falk’s first taste of the first wave of the organized crime that, as his wonderful boss Sellberg later explains, has been oozing across Europe, and though his new target is a small-timer, Gaut is more than capable of getting Falk into hot water. With the help of a little mole on the inside, Gaut gets the deets on the witnesses who saw him shoot up a street and goes straight from the police station to their homes to threaten them! It’s quick and effective work and leaves Falk in a bind when each witness, including the lovely Helén with whom Falk has an immediate spark, recants their testimonies. His furious follow-up to Gaut allows the villain to accuse Falk of threatening his life. Of course it’s a lie but Falk, whose smirky demeanor belies a real hothead, manages to implicate himself well enough that now he must go on the run from his own team. Ah, but here is where we see his unique set of skills come into play. He maintains pressure on Gaut and repeatedly saves the lives of Helén and her daughter Nina, winning their hearts as he wins his freedom. That’s a wrap on Gaut (or is it?), but have the deeper mysteries of Johan Falk the man been as neatly tied up? Not by a long shot!

Executive Protection
Relegated by the brass to tracking down stolen bicycles after his dramatic debut with his new team, Falk seems to at least be settling down to a regular life in Gothenburg with Helén and Nina. How any of them could function as normal human beings after surviving several murder attempts by professional hitmen, including being terrorized in their own homes, I don’t know. The Swedes are strong people.

Johan Falk Trilogy - "Executive Protection"

While attending the funeral of a family friend in his hometown, Johan realizes an old pal has had his business taken over by mobsters in the guise of a security service. Naturally, this cannot stand. Since the place is so remote that they don’t have a regular police force, Johan steps in and quickly finds himself over his head in an ugly showdown with German criminals who will stop at nothing to get what they want (neck bombs are involved). Calling in another security service to back him up, Johan must face his worst fears. No, not the cutting-edge German weapons – it’s his own feelings he has to stare down when his friend’s wife, the sister of Johan’s first love who died at nine-months pregnant in a hit-and-run accident, confronts him for never acknowledging his grief. Honestly, he still doesn’t really acknowledge it, but he does save everyone’s life – this time with the help of Helén — and their businesses. He does it with integrity, of course, unlike literally everyone else on either side of the equation. It’s rough, but at least Johan leaves with the firm conviction that he won’t be spending his time looking for lost bicycles anymore. So, he’s unemployed now. What could possibly go wrong?

The Third Wave
There’s always a third wave! Falk, in a sort of semi-retirement, is traveling with Helen and Nina for Helén’s work. I can’t think of anything more than Johan Falk hanging around the house all day with nothing to do, and nor can Helén. When they see Falk’s old boss, Sellberg, speaking on TV about his new role as leader of an organized crime task force for Europol, Helén suggests swinging by The Hague on their way back to Sweden to see him. Imagine your life if you could just “swing by The Hague.” Anyway, they do, and Falk has no sooner turned down a new job with Sellberg before – guess who? – a bunch of guys bust in, murder Sellberg, and try to take out Rebecca, an English-Swedish lady who knows too much about the gangsters they protect. Falk saves her and the game is afoot. Has the guy ever just… taken an assignment and worked the case? Not that I’ve seen! Does he realize he stays in business by creating his own crimes?

Johan Falk Trilogy - "The Third Wave"

Anyway, once again Helén and Nina are caught in the crossfire of Falk’s drama, and end up being instrumental to his success. Against the backdrop of violent protests in Munich, Falk must race against time and hitmen of every nationality to save Rebecca and, presumably, the world economy. One of them celebrates a beat too early having shot both Falk and Helén and realizing only when he is shot himself by the still-alive Falk that his own gun contained rubber bullets. It’s a dramatic ending, but there’s one twist left! At Sellberg’s funeral, Falk does accept a job, and heads back to the force! We can only assume he’ll be tripping over bodies in supermarkets and churches and busting up syndicates when he goes out to check the mail in Johan Falk Season 1!


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About the author:
Allison Lowe Huff is a freelance writer and editor with an overly concentrated interest in mystery stories from anywhere and everywhere. Follow her on Twitter @lowehuff.