It begins, as Nordic dramas are wont to do, with the discovery of a body. This time, though, it’s not murder most foul – at least not directly. Mads Justesen (Thomas Bo Larsen), the detective assigned to investigate the death, determines that the death was an accident, driven by the working practices of an offshore windfarm company, part of the Danish energy conglomerate Energreen. But everything is not as it seems at Energreen and as the company accelerates towards its impending stock market listing, a complex web of deception will entangle more than just the company’s executives and employees.
“Follow The Money” is a slick, well-made corporate thriller; a tale of greed, innocence corrupted and calculated commercial malfeasance. The financial chicanery, though, lacks the visceral hook of homicide and the series isn’t quite as successful at making the complex shell company shell game as clear and understandable as, say, “The Big Short” was and you’ll often have to rely on the characters’ word when it comes to why what Energreen is doing is wrong and how they’re doing it. The pacing is also a little bit off thanks to a need to spin the yarn out to the required ten episode series length. It ends up too convoluted for its own good and there are side plots which – while not uninteresting – really add nothing to the core story and a leaner six episode series could really have ramped up the tension by dispensing with distractions such as mechanics, gangland feuds and that rustiest of clichés: the troubled personal life of the detective.
Thankfully, the cast breathe life into the story, preventing the slow burn from sputtering out. Claudia, the young and ambitious new CFO of Energreen makes for a compelling protagonist – or potential antagonist, as one thing the series does very well is make your moral compass spin. Played with a winning combination of steely cool and vulnerability by Natalie Madueño, she’s by far the most interesting character in the story even if too much of the story happens around her or without her present. Despite her reputation for brilliance she’s almost wilfully and frustratingly blind to the conspiracies around her until her son forces her to see her employers in a different light. There are also fine performances from Esben Smed Jensen and Lucas Hansen as Nicky and Bimse, a couple of young mechanics who find themselves in way over their heads as a result of an opportunistic theft and Claes Ljungmark almost steals the show as P, a stoic and ruthless enforcer for the Energreen masterminds.
Not quite able to make the most of its cast and potential, “Follow The Money” is still good television and well worth watching – the gorgeous opening titles are worth the price of admission alone. It will be interesting to see where this series goes if it is recommissioned for a second season as the most interesting characters were tied directly to the Energreen story and while Mads isn’t the worst TV detective to have graced the screen, he and his fraud squad pals aren’t really enough of a draw to bring you back for another go round.