The Legacy / Arvingerne II – Episode I&II Recap

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The Legacy Season II has debuted on Saturday evenings on the SkyArts channel, and we will be covering the entirety of the season! Our Danish writer Frederik has watched and written about each episode. Read his overview below!

Episode 1

I’m not entirely sure it even makes sense to make a second season of The Legacy. It’s not particularly easy to make a long-running family-based television show, without it turning completely into soap opera. Thinking about it, there are fewer good tv-dramas about family than one should think, and most of them have something beside family to generate conflict. The Sopranos had the mafia, Six Feet Under had the undertaker shop and peoples relationship with death. Amongst new shows, Transparent is driven by the parents transition from man to woman, and the things it makes the children confront. Truth is, familial relations aren’t really the best generator of tales and conflicts on tv, because in the real world, there’s no end to them. Making a depiction of a real dysfunctional family would quickly be a repetitive and depressing wallow through the same conflicts over and over. Something new has to come from the outside. The Legacy had a brilliant plot generator in its first season in everything with the question of the inheritance after the death of the matriarch, and the old wounds and stories that process brought to light. And when that story was ended in episode 7, and the season still had 3 episodes to go, all of a sudden everything became much less grounded. Emil got betrayed by his business partner, whom we had just met, and ended in jail. Gro started selling fake art-works to unknowing Russians. And John, Signes dad, became an alcoholic for a couple of episodes, until he became back on track.

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These types of stories aren’t the strength of the show. Especially Emil’s story of Thai corruption and abuse doesn’t work for me. The central question of the show is the same in its second season as in season one: What is the legacy, that has been passed on from the old generation to the new? What has Veronika, and the way she lived her life – and broader speaking the way the generation from 68 lived their lives – meant for offspring? It was always subtext in the first season, as the relationships of both Signe and her parents tore apart as they all became embroiled in the dysfunctional relations on Grønnegården. But it wouldn’t hurt a bit if show runner Maya Ilsøe became more explicit about this theme in season 2. And the story of Isa in this first episode might be a sign, that this is the ambition going forward.

The parentage of Melody was portrayed as a secret in the first part of the episode, which perhaps didn’t work all that well. As soon as we learned that Isa was still living in the house, it became much more likely that she, rather than central characters such as Signe or Gro, had gone through such a big change as motherhood. The problem is, that the series is defined by its big differences between its characters, but in order to create mystery, the entire family has to act as a harmonious whole, and be in complete agreement that Melody should obviously go through a naming rituala which honestly seems more like Thomas than Veronika, who in fact is the shared parent between them – the only one who is actually Melody’s sister is Gro aka ‘Pølse’ or ‘Sausage’. I’m especially ever so slightly doubtful of how much sense it makes that Frederik put his kids in a cradle made by Thomas and passed through the family, wasn’t he very mad at Veronica at the start of the show? Caused by the death of his dad, which happened when he was very young, right around when Signe was given away (which Thomas says was in 1989, when discussing the new fake art that Gro has made). There are some questions as to when and how much the two eldest kids distanced themselves from the chaos on Grønnegården, that isn’t completely clear to me.

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But back to Isa. The Melody-mystery might not have worked all that well, but the short glimpse of Thomas taking Lone’s hand was a perfect surprise: A short glimpse, which said everything about Thomas’ behaviour, and his reaction to the responsibility and seriousness that comes with pregnancy and fatherhood. Of course he left Lone because she became too serious, in favor of a younger woman, and of course he went back to Lone when the younger woman became pregnant. Perfect. And now, Isa is clearly suffering from postpartum depression, somethin allegedly happening to every tenth new mother, but apart from Signe, nobody says or does anything. Gro especially is very unlikable in this episode, more focused on her own connection to the baby, and extremely cold towards the young woman, who in some way might be said to be her new stepmom. But nobody else can see Isa’s problems, and/or has the will to confront those problems. It’s silenced, even after the baby is thrown into the lake and almost drowns. But as soon as John and Lise turns up – funnily enough seconds apart, in what has clearly been coordinated – Isa reacts positively. The care and empathy is clear on especially Lise’s face, and it shows exactly what it is that the rest of the family lacks. It’s not that they don’t love or care. It’s that they don’t see.

Otherwise, this is a typically good episode of a really good series. It’s strength is always the situations and the acting. What happens, and how, instead of what is being said. The name-giving ritual is a typical bravura-piece for the show, a brilliant piece of production design, clothing, set to a choral arrangement of the theme to the show. Only The Legacy would stage this scene in exactly this way, and while Danish drama is filled with verbal outbursts such as Isa’s towards Thomas, it’s typical of The Legacy that Thomas receives it with his trousers at his knees and a knitted cap on his head. A good start, that launches a lot of questions. The next few weeks will show if the show can find answers to them.

Further observations:

  • The episode was written by Maja Jul Larsen a episode writer and Maya Ilsøe as head writer. It was directed by Jesper Christensen himself! All involved also worked on the show in season 1.
  • Jens Jørn Spottag, Anette Katzman and Kenneth M. Christensen are no longer credited during the main titles. But Kirsten Lehfeldt as Lone is. Not Josephine Park as Isa, though.
  • I don’t care about Emil’s story at all…
  • Neither am I that fascinated by Gro’s art-faking, but the notion that she actually has a significant artistic talent herself was quite interesting. There’s a good story there, on how she chose to work with curating and communication, rather than making her own art, a story where Veronica probably doesn’t play the most sympathetic role.
  • Frederik is building a new house or other. Why that matters is a mystery, but ok. He’s still in therapy, and it’s straining the family further. And the oldest daughter smokes pot. Dam-dam-daaaaammmm.
  • Over/under on when Signe and the hot farmer gets together?
  • Minor mystery I personally would want to hear much more about: What is it with Frederik’s taste in music? The giant Rammstein poster that adorned a wall in their old house in season one, that never really fit in with the notion of him as the buttoned up and straight one of the kids. But not necessarily in any bad way.
  • Same kind of question: Where did all those instruments they were jamming on come from? Thomas has a bunch of instruments, but electric guitar and drumming pads? Isn’t that a bit too modern?
  • I’ll applaud that the show is tackling postpartum depression, which is a pretty common problem. And the way the show depicts how blind the characters are towards it, and the taboo in discussing it, seems pretty spot on.
  • Oh, and hello and welcome, and thanks for making it this far! I wrote these recaps back in January when the second season was shown in Denmark – this episode was actually shown on January 1st, and I recapped it with quite the hangover – and have translated and edited them slightly for the to coincide with the season being shown in Britain. This first one is a week late, but the following ones should be out soon after each episode has been shown.”

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Episode 2

When speaking about the plot-lines of episode 1, the prison trials of Emil was the one I was least impressed with. So of course, it’s the main story this week, so prevalent that it swallowed the first half almost whole, and for a while made me think this was the worst episode of the show so far. The episode improved, but I’m not entirely happy. I think it’s time to take a serious look at this plotline, and figure out what on earth it’s there for.

As the show began, Emil was by far the most charming of the three ‘original’ siblings. Because he was the most relaxed. Both Gro and Frederik were way too busy, and defined by how they acted towards their mom, Veronika Grønnegård: Gro strived to be as much a ‘Grønnegård’ as possible, while Frederik strived to be the exact opposite. And Emil didn’t strive for anything. Each one was punished for this. Gro wanted to be like her mom, and was punished for faking her signature – but has now continued faking it, even though she had the talent to make something of her own. Frederik wanted to get away from his mom and siblings, but ended up alienated from his wife and kids instead. And Emil, Emil was unambitious, and just wanted to live on someone else’s money, so it made good sense that he would be punished for being too much in debt. So far, so good. His debt also worked well, because it forced him to side with Frederik, even though he was probably more sympathetic towards Signe, and most of all probably wanted to appear above the whole fight. It might even have made sense that he would be punished in Thailand, from his business partner and the corrupt police, since his problem was always that he was too ‘touristy’, and lacked engagement in his surroundings. So yeah, I’m still on board.

But God dammit. This episode is wallowing in corruption and abuse, in a way that is completely over the top. Of course Emil has to sit in the dirt, and of course the camera cuts to a glimpse of shadowy thai prisoners as Emil gets a blanket and penicillin from the embassy. Scars and bloody nose. It’s irrelevant. Just as it’s irrelevant when Emil’s friend in the cell gets a fever, and as it’s completely unlikable that Emil will spend two seasons in a prison cell, everything regarding sale/corruption/the king’s birthday is irrelevant as well. None of it relates to the family, which is what we care for. In the second half of the episode, some of it becomes relevant, as Frederik has to choose to engage himself or not in the case, and Emil’s password leads to Frederik discovering clandestine communication between Emil and Solveig, which is definitely a promising cliffhanger. And it gave us Emil’s monologue at the end, one of the perhaps too few monologues in the show. That was touching, and thought us a lot of the relationship between Emil and Frederik, especially in the time after their father’s death. But it might also mirror the tale of Melody, as it also tells of how Veronika wasn’t there for them, and Frederik warns Emil that he might have to go to a foster home.

That might also be a danger for Melody? Henrik, her grandfather, was definitely not impressed with how things were at Grønnegården. The question is: Isn’t he kinda right? He might be overreacting to the joint, which clearly shows a pretty conservative side, but still. The family continues to be pretty disinterested in Isa, his daughter, and Henrik doesn’t even know half of what is going on. In the scene with the big confrontation we see Signe, Thomas and especially Gro stand together in the fight against Henrik, but on the other hand the series is mainly about the family members stabbing each other in the back. Is it really the best for Melody to grow up as another Grønnegård? And furthering that, was it really the best for Signe, that she took her place as the forth sibling? That might be the question I want this season to answer the most.

We got a sketch of this discussion in the best scenes of the episode. When The Legacy is at it’s best, it shows us who the characters are without words, through showing us the way they are together, and solve problems. The scene where Signe and Thomas builds a sprinkling system was a perfect example of it’s kind. And that Signe is creative, like Veronika, like Gro, was underlined when they called it ‘art’. And as Signe turns the contraption on out on the field, her smile says everything about the pride, the energy, that was released as she realized who she was. But as she lifts Melody out of the baby carriage, we’re immediately reminded of the future family, that was inevitably lost as she learned that Andreas as starting a family with another woman. A strong scene.

All in all, this episode wasn’t as good as the first one. And, minor spoiler since I’ve seen the whole season, it’s far from the best the season has to offer.

Further rambling:

  • The writer of the episode was Lars K. Andersen, and the episode was once again directed by Jesper Christensen.
  • In episode 10 of season 1, Jan (‘Jan, hempman’ as the end titles title him) that he will pay 1,50 kr for every kilo, and that the area can bring in 35 tons. That gives 52.500 kr each harvest, as far as I can tell. I have to agree with Signe’s bank: That does not seem like enough money to run a manor and farm and feed one self and buy expensive works of art. How many times can one harvest hemp in a year?
  • I’m not sure if Signe needed to be in a love triange. I don’t like Martin, and actor Rasmus Botoft is ten years older than Marie Bach Hansen. You can do better, girl.
  • ‘There’s a front pocket and a back pocket, though Thomas has taught us to never leave joints in the back pocket’. The whole scene with the shirt was really good.
  • I think my favorite line was Gro’s from the same scene: ‘I’ll do all the lawyers say, I promise. I won’t fire anyone!’ Remember, she fired Lone in anger back in season 1. Perhaps, if she didn’t break the law that much, she wouldn’t lose that many lawsuits…
  • My favorite detail has to be the blanket that Thomas keeps around his knees as he flees from Henrik. Jesper Christensen doesn’t say no to doing embarrassing things, not when he directs himself either.”
Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.

  1. Elisabete Silva says:

    hello. my name is elisabeth and in Portugal , on tv, I’ve following The Legacy.
    And i am been looking un on net to know how many episodes The legacy really have. Because seson 2 ends , and we do not undestand what’s going on after with thomas, and all dthe caracters …
    And do not even fin any information more, ir seems that ends without “ending”, like being left in a hurry for nothing. Does any one know more?

  2. Dona Samson Zappone says:

    I love the show here in Australia. I am an ardent fan of Danish shows on our TV.
    I get my hubby to tape it when I am not home so I can watch it later.
    Being a writer myself I love the plots and scenes

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