Jana: Marked for Life – new Swedish crime drama on BBC Four

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Jana: Marked for Life Swedish crime show

Child assassins, human trafficking and buried memories are just a handful of the themes that come to the fore in Jana: Marked for Life, the new Swedish crime series that arrives on BBC Four in the UK starting Saturday 8 June, 2024. Lovers of Nordic noir will have the chance to settle in to another dark Scandinavian mystery with those beloved subtitles!

The show, which aired earlier this year in Sweden, is based on the novel Marked for Life by Emelie Schepp, which we reviewed when it arrived in English back in 2016. Jana Berzelius – played by Madeleine Martin – is a young lawyer who joins the prosecutor’s office in Norrköping, but her adoptive father, Karl (Johan Ulveson) is sceptical about the move. At a party marking Karl’s retirement, Hans Juhlén of the migration board tells Jana that he’s concerned about a child migrant called Victoria.

Later, Hans turns up dead and soon after that the body of his murderer is found as well – a child with a scar on his neck which represents the Greek character Thanatos, the personification of death. It reminds Jana of a scar on the back of her neck; a K to represent Ker, a female death spirit from Greek mythology. But her memories of how it got there have been repressed.

Wondering about her past, Jana joins the investigation into the two murders, working alongside lead prosecutor Peer Bruckner (August Wittgenstein) and the police officers Mia (Moa Gammel) and Henrik (Fredrik Hallgren). It turns out that Hans was looking for shipping containers possibly used in people smuggling and Jana continues that search. Meanwhile, the migrant Victoria is still in danger and more child assassins crop up, even brazenly attacking the police.

Jana: Marked for Life Swedish crime show

Jana is sure the gang is somehow linked to her own past, but Karl doesn’t want her delving into her childhood trauma. It’s too late, though. Jana won’t stop, and with further killings panic begins to spread and the investigators discover that they are up against a powerful force in the criminal underworld, with dark rituals and mythology coming into play. At a personal level, she’s dealing with a sister mixed up in drugs, a mother showing early signs of dementia and a suspiciously edgy father. As things heat up, soon one thing becomes clear – do not mess with her. If you liked Lisbeth Salander in the Millennium series, put Jana Berzelius on your list.

Author Emilie Schepp worked with writer Maria Karlsson, director Felix Herngren plus co-creator and director Henrik Björn to adapt the story for screen, and there is scope for the series to continue across the four Jana Berzelius books. The six 50-minute episodes in season one will run in pairs from 8 June for three weeks, and will be available on iPlayer. It was filmed in Norrköping and Stockholm.

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