Not since Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy has there been a foreign-language series as addictive as Hooked. From the very first scene between drug detective Oskari Autio and his returning former lover Krista, the viewer senses an unbreakable - albeit unusual - bond.
It is a complex relationship, to say the least. Krista, a former junkie, is now clean and so is her criminal record. When Oskari turns her away, she goes to the only other friend she has: Jonttu, a pot-growing, small-time dealer. Unfortunately, Jonttu's supplier shows up while Krista is at his apartment and she finds herself strong-armed into helping Jonttu with a cocaine deal.
Much has changed in the 16 years Krista was away. She is determined to create a new life free from criminality and drugs. Meanwhile, Oskari is the single-father of a brilliant but troubled teenage son. And, he's trying to make a go of it with his new girlfriend Juulia. Yet as divergent as their circumstances are, Krista's unintentional connection to a cocaine ring leaves the pair with only one option: Krista must accept the dangerous assignment of working as an informant for Oskari.
If the idea of subtitles makes you reluctant to try Hooked, your worries are unfounded. Within minutes you are drawn into the plot. Language differences instantly disappear, and acclimation to subtitles is remarkably quick. The transition between reading the dialogue and absorbing the unusually fine acting becomes quite natural.
Unlike British productions where many actors are recognizable by American audiences, Hooked introduces an entirely unknown (at least to this reviewer) and stellar cast. Their ability to so vividly convey fear, love, hate and anger proves that talent is a universal language, requiring no translation at all.
Matleena Juusniemi, who plays Krista, is brilliant in her portrayal of a near-40-year-old woman who, as she so heart-breakingly admits to Oskari - and perhaps herself - has run out of second chances.
Tommi Eronen, in the role of Oskari Autio, perfectly depicts a man trying to convince himself he feels emotions he does not - while denying those he can't erase.
Young Santeri Helinheimo (Oskari's son Niko) and Anna-Maija Tuokko (Juulia) deliver strong performances that tap into the audience's sympathy. Both characters search in vain for the one fulfilling bond they know is missing from their lives.
At the end of each episode you'll ask yourself, "How does Krista (or Oskari, or drug dealers Kode and Julius) get out of this one....?" And with each subsequent episode, you'll delight in the twists you never see coming.
By the end of the ten-episode series, you don't know if "hooked" refers to the drugs, or the addictive relationships at the heart of the story.
Prose 'n Cons strongly recommends Hooked to current or new fans of Scandinavian noir crime series.