Hmmmm. It’s not Wallander or The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.
What I learned from thinking about Katla:
It’s not hard to come up with a simple premise with rich possibilities: Sustained eruptions of Katla, a real volcano, lead to the evacuation of almost all the inhabitants of Vik, a real village on the south coast of Iceland. The remaining scientists and essential workers live in a gray and brown hellscape of dead and dying animals, relationships, infrastructure, and businesses over which broods the dark lightning-wreathed plume of the angry volcano. Then things that shouldn’t be around start to show up.
A writer can keep dropping hints to drag things out without paying anything off: The series is a slow reveal of past sins and current difficulties, psychological and otherwise, forced into the light as the people of Vik react to what walks out of the mists and clouds that surround the volcano. Unfortunately, to me, the writers kept up the Nordic stoicism far past the point of believability. The characters’ reactions to the incredible things that were happening simply seemed more in service to perpetuating the atmosphere than like realistic human reactions to world and worldview-altering events.
Formula can’t carry you where you need to go: Unfortunately, I think the writers simply relied on a “Supernatural Nordic Noir” formula without a deep dive into any of the possibilities of the premise. The characters’ final realizations and changes, while dramatic, were all easy and predictable. A lot of plot but not much story.
But it does create a mood, like a depressing beach read.
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