If you were worried that Thursday night’s bleak and somewhat enigmatic Fortitude series finale was going to leave your questions forever unanswered, you’ll be pleased to hear that not only is Sky Atlantic’s Arctic-set drama returning for a second run in 2016 but that it will pick up with the same characters – the handful who are left alive, at least – mere weeks after the events we’ve just witnessed.
Simon Donald’s chilling mystery took dark delight in dispensing with many of its heavyweight cast – starting with Christopher Eccleston’s Professor Charlie Stoddart, shockingly hacked to death in the opening episode, and continuing with Michael Gambon and Stanley Tucci – and there had been whispers that, if and when it did return, it might do so with an entirely new cast and story, as is becoming a minor trend (see series like Fargo and True Detective for details).
But Donald says that was never the plan for Fortitude and that series two picks up where it left off, “very directly”, seven weeks after the events of the finale.
“We’ve lost a lot of fairly central characters to the horror that’s been plaguing Fortitude,” the writer tells RadioTimes.com. “Most of the people who are left standing are coming back and will be supplemented by some people from Fortitude that we haven’t met yet, and a couple of in-comers.
“The astonishingly fruitful world that’s available to us as a consequence of what we did in that little town from the first episode is a lot more interesting than going ‘reboot and start again’ – that’s a terrible idea!
“The fall-out from events like that – psychologically, emotionally, in terms of how the community copes, in terms of how people deal with what they had to do and what happened to them and their immediate family – is, dramatically, very, very rich, not something where you want to go ‘Ok, let’s start again with an invasion of killer, laser rabbits’.”
Quite right. The series concluded with Richard Dormer’s police chief Dan Anderssen being forced to shoot Elena, the woman he loves, after parasitic prehistoric wasps turned her into a psychopath (if you’ve stumbled across this article without having seen Fortitude, it’s a long story…) and it’s only right that the fall-out from that will be at the heart of the story when the series returns.
“One of the central themes for me is the obsessive love story, the doomed obsessive love that Dan has for Elena that reaches a moment in the end where, despite all they’ve been through, he shoots her. And he shoots her not trying to wing her – he has to do what cops do, he has to shoot at the centre of the torso and stop her from doing the dreadful thing she’s about to do, which is plunge a pair of scissors into a little girl’s heart. What could be more interesting than the immediate aftermath of that? What’s happened to them?”
Beyond that, those still puzzling over the details of the bizarre and eerie events that unfolded in the isolated Svalbard town may be relieved to hear him say “We haven’t yet understood completely the whole story of what has happened… There is another ingredient we’ve already seen which is going to feature in the second series.”
Answers are coming in series two – and so, it would seem, are more mysteries…