Police Inspector Robert Anders (Walter Sittler) moves from Germany to Visby, a Swedish town on the island of Gotland. His wife, Line (Paprika Steen), who works as a midwife, is Swedish, so their move makes sense, except for one factor: Anders has a phobia about the sea. Forty years ago, he and his younger sister were swimming when she drowned. Although he wasn’t responsible, Robert grew up believing his father blamed him for the accident. Memories continue to haunt him and to strain the relationship with his father.
Anders is devoted to Line and their two children, son, Niklas (Sven Gielnik), and daughter, Ida (Charlotte Lüder). He’s also devoted to his job. And for a small island, murder seems to visit frequently keeping Anders very busy, along with his two deputies, Karin Jacobson (Sólveig Arnarsdóttir), and Andy Gatjen (Thomas Wittberg).
Based on the bestselling crime novels by Swedish author Mari Jungstedt, The Inspector and the Sea (Der Kommissar und das Meer) is in German with subtitles. Two seasons, each with six 90-minute episodes, can be streamed on MHz Choice.
Sittler was born on December 5, 1952 in Chicago and moved with his family to Germany in 1958. He’s an imposing presence, not only because he’s six feet four inches tall, but also because his chiseled features and ice blue eyes convey serious intelligence and a take-no-prisoners attitude. As Anders, he uses those to his advantage when the detective is questioning witnesses and suspects. Yet with his family, those blue eyes sparkle and he’s affectionate, even playful.
Sólveig Anarsdóttir and Walter Sittler
The series begins with a serial killer loose on the island, two women brutally and fatally attacked with an axe. When the pathologist, Ewa (Inger Nilsson), shows up at the scene of the first murder, she says, “We’ve never had anything like this here.” Maybe not, but as the series progresses, additional murders are just as gruesome, although the close ups are kept to a minimum. Suspects abound, many harboring secrets. Alibis can be faked. Identities can change. And even the most innocent people are capable of lying. While murder is always involved, the plots are never straightforward. The culprit could be a longtime resident of Visby or a new arrival.
At its core, The Inspector and the Sea is a police procedural, where Anders and his team take nothing for granted, slowly sifting through the evidence to carefully build a case. There’s a skill conducting an interrogation and Anders is a pro. He manages to ask the right questions, follow up, but never reveal his hand. The less said, the better.
Character development is not overlooked. Because of his childhood, Anders battles demons. When Line suggest they invite his father to visit, he objects, finally relenting when his children express a desire to meet their grandfather. The reunion begins on shaky ground, but a final confrontation between the two men results in healing.
Robert and Line have a good marriage, but cracks begin to show. With two teenagers and two house guests – Anders’ mother arrives for a long stay and Emma, a single mother with a baby needs a place to live – the house feels crowded. Line feels overwhelmed, so when an old school friend who lives on a boat shows up in town, she’s intrigued by his independence. They share long lunches and an overnight boat ride, sparking Anders’ jealousy. When Line takes a trip to think over her future, Anders is left to steer both Niklas and Ida through unexpected bumps. He surprisingly exhibits a sensitive touch with both young people, not treating them like suspects, but as his children who need love and guidance.
The title emphasizes that besides Anders, the sea is a major character. Many of the murders happen in or near the water. Frequent boat rides, as well as having to dive in to save a victim, test Anders’ fears. Adding to the dark mood is the haunting music, creating an atmosphere that is sometimes sinister, at other moments, mysterious, and, on several occasions, romantic.
Photos courtesy of MHz Choice