Beatricia: Polar bears seemingly resort to cannibalism more often than they used to. Global warming? Perfluorinated compounds bio-accumulating in their ursine brains? Or are bears susceptible to dietary trends, just like suburban moms? No one has the answer yet, but the issue concerns the residents of “Fortitude,” because aggressive polar bears surround the (fictional) northernmost town on Earth. 3,000 bears compete with the 713 humans living in this environmentally conscious, multi-Nordic community where it is legally mandatory for wanderers to carry anti-bear weapons. (So… to bear bear rifles!) Of course, everyone knows the most dangerous game is man.
Like a chillier “Twin Peaks,” “Fortitude” hides plenty of secrets behind its progressive, eco-friendly facade. As the show opens, children unearth what appear to be the frosty remains of a mammoth, and elderly Henry Tyson (Michael Gambon) kills a man in a failed attempt to save him from a bear attack. Professor Stoddart (Christopher Eccleston) is found disemboweled with a potato peeler. Sheriff Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer) somehow manages to arrive at the scene of both murders before anyone raises the alarm. Governor Hildur Obegard (Sofie Grabol) will let nothing interfere with the opening of the glacier hotel that will put Fortitude on top of the world map. Afghanistan-War vet Frank Sutter (Nicholas Pinnock) is hiding an affair with the sexy Spanish hotel waitress, Elena (Veronica Echegui.) Also, Sutter may have carried a strain of polio from the desert into the community, and a quarantine crisis seems imminent. See, Hanky, this is what happens when men cheat: they fill the North Pole with polio.
Hank: Can’t the poor man catch a break?!? He served his country in Afghanistan!!! He probably has PTSD!!! And Seasonal Affective Disorder because it’s cold in this “Fortitude” place!!! When will he be forgiven?!?
Grandpa Felicius: In my days, we all had polio with a side of meningitis, and we had to like it! If it was good enough for the President of the United States, it was good enough for us! As for “Fortitude,” sounds like a terrible idea. These folks could profit from the advice I gave Shackleton: “If your balls have shriveled to the point that they are in contact with your kidneys, it is time to head back south.”
Trent: So Dumbledore Two, Doctor Who, and Beric Dondarrion are getting frostbite in the Arctic. Which raises the question: who would win between a fight between a Norwegian Ridgeback, a Dalek, a Direwolf, and a Polar Bear? Trick question! Polar bears became extinct in 1992. Now we just give grizzly bears a coat of white paint and ship them up north to fool the eco-tourists.
Tracey: The setting alone would be enough to distinguish this show. The landscape is miraculously beautiful, and also merciless, impervious to the humans that would desecrate it. The town’s mysteries (what is up with that squealing pig in the experimental facility?) are slowly thawed by Deputy Chief Inspector Morton (Stanley Tucci), an American who has been flown in by the London Metropolitan Police to investigate, but even he has plenty to conceal. The coolest thing about this show? The inciting mystery does NOT involve yet another pretty young female corpse!
Cousin Franz: From “Peyton Place” through “Twin Peaks” to “Wayward Pines,” the town with secrets has been one of the most fruitful soap opera settings. What “Fortitude” lays bare is the essential, stark, frozen loneliness at the core of the human heart.
Blurbarella: “Aggressive polar bears– surround– Afghanistan–for the President of the United States. — Dumbledore–impervious to– pretty young female.”