Salamander is the new 12 part Belgian political conspiracy thriller taking the Saturday night BBC4 spot of crime fighting and justice. With the recent popularity of the Scandinavian dramas The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen, it is no surprise that BBC4 are widening their import horizons. Clearly the Belgian view on life and their government is not much more optimistic than the Scandinavians we’ve grown so used to. What is refreshing is the amount of daylight we get to see, not really something that has featured much on BBC4 recently.
66 high sensitivity safety deposit boxes. That’s all it takes to bring half the officials in the country to their knees. After a break in during which documents of a private and sensitive nature are taken, the entire crime is hushed up, but Chief Inspector Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters) senses that there is more to the rumour from an unreliable informant than his boss chooses to believe. After a life is lost, which Gerardi suspects is connected to the robber, he feels like he has no choice but to investigate, regardless of who is trying to cover it up.
Reminiscent of political thrillers of the 80s and 90s the show has something gripping and intellectually stimulating to offer. The acting was superb, from the bumbling and seemingly clueless deputy manager of the bank to Gerardi’ s fierce wife. It’s fast pace makes it difficult not to get caught up in the growing tension. With the excellent lighting, cinematography and use of music, the show manages to retain the suspense throughout the first two installments.
Perhaps a little clichéd, with Gerardi being an all too familiar image of a maverick cop who’s only interested in the truth, Salamander is still an emotive and suspenseful fight of one man against ‘the system’. It’s a story of human secrecy; everyone has their weak point.