Belgium is best known for its world-class paedophiles, Christian “The Beast” Benteke and Jean Claude Van Damme. That’s all about to change. Soon for be known for moderately entertaining crime shows like Salamander. We begin with a group of bad men dressed as workmen running a sophisticated heist on the vaults of the Jonkhere Private Bank. Joachim Klaus (Koen De Bouw) is the George Clooney mastermind. Riches beyond measure lie in those personal boxes but it’s not money or jewels they are after. Like Brad Pitt in Se7en, Noel Edmonds or Dave Lee Travis with his hands inside a teenager’s knickers we’re asking “what’s in the box?”
Like Brad Pitt in Se7en, Noel Edmonds or Dave Lee Travis with his hands inside a teenager’s knickers we’re asking “what’s in the box?”
66 safes ultraviolet marked containing compromising photos, audio tapes, transcripts – incrimination is what they are after. Each of the boxes contains a depth charge underneath the careers of the most powerful men in Belgium. “Fuck!” says Mister Robijns the manager (handily translated as “Fuck!” by the subtitles) when he sees the carnage. He calls in bank owner Raymond Jonkhere (Mike Verdrengh), a grotesque slug who opts not to call in the police. As if you could trust a corruption riddled nest of vipers like the Belgian please with the sensitive case like this. “There’s a traitor in our midst” he tells Robijns “a spy” he continues in case he didn’t get the general gist.
“There’s a traitor in our midst” he tells Robijns “a spy” he continues in case he didn’t get the general gist.
So it’s time to make those awkward phone calls to the 66 safe owners. One by one they are contacted – politicians, judges, CEOs, military brass are informed of the calamity and told to keep the fuck quiet. A dignified looking general chooses permanent silence and shoots himself like his name was Budd Dwyer. I’d HATE to see what was in his box.
That’s exactly kind of thing that Inspector Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters) lives for. As luck would have it his snout Andre Strubbe has something on a bank robbery. Andre’s not got the best reputation as an informant so Paul is inclined to flipping the bird. Nonetheless he has a name: Urbain Scholiers – an alarm system specialist who had been working on something big.
Paul figures eff it and visits the family home where he chats with Mrs Scholiers as they await his return. Paul smiles as the affable Scholiers cycles towards them. Unfortunately you’ll never get to meet him as that very moment he gets crushed in a pincer movement by two cars driven by scrotes. Urban is turded brutally and the Inspector smells a conspiracy.
His boss Commissaris Martin Coll (Warre Borgmans) ain’t trying to hear it but tells him to write a report anyway. Behind the closed door of his office he rings Procureur-generaal Armand Persigal (Jo De Meyere) who tells the shut Paul the fuck down. Just what is everyone hiding? Maybe we could ask Andre the snout? His information seems to be good. That could be a bit tricky but with him having his windpipe severed by unknown assailants. Dangerous place this “Belgium”.
It’s early days but it’s clear that Salamander is not The Killing and it is not The Bridge. It’s in that watchable enough Inspector Montalbano vein – diverting, undemanding and no real harm to anyone. Not every signing is going to be a Benteke. This will do until a real show comes along.
The verdict: More of a Luc Nillis tbf.
Marks out of 10: 7
Read the Salamander episode 2 review here.