Detective Forst is a new Polish crime thriller series on Netflix that is based on a popular novel series about the titular detective, Wiktor Forst, by Remigiusz Mroz. As the name suggests, the series has police detective Wiktor Forst in the middle of a series of sinister murders high up in the Tatra mountains, with the deaths increasingly looking to be connected with a horrific personal and historical past. Although left a bit shorter than it should have been, Detective Forst makes for an average watch, mostly because of the visual landscapes and the shiny production value.
Plot Summary: What is Netflix’s Series about?
Detective Forst begins in an undisclosed location in mountainous Poland, where the camera slowly glides through a shack with some heavy music blaring in the distance. The dimly lit shack, with covers and blinds over windows and doors, does look unnatural from the very get-go, and then some shocking revelations are made. A man is seen to be hostage at the shack, with enough signs of torture on his body, which is, sadly, only the beginning of his worries. Soon, another individual, who is clearly the kidnapper, cuts off a finger from the hostage’s hand, which has a distinct gold ring with the letter “R” engraved on it. The loud cries of the hostage make way for the scene to introduce our protagonist, Wiktor Forst, who is desperately running through the woods far away, looking for someone with a lot of frustration.
The series then takes us back a few days, when Forst is seen getting physically intimate with a young woman named Agata, and the two have been evidently getting involved for quite some time now, even though they are not in an official relationship. There are multiple reasons for it, though, beginning with the age gap between the two and also the fact that Agata suffers from some serious mental health challenges. But the biggest reason for the two not making things official is that Agata is actually the daughter of Edmund Osica, the police chief in Forst’s department. Forst is a detective and officer in the local police force, and therefore, Edmund is his boss. Although the boss does know about his daughter’s involvement, all he can do is request that Forst stay away. The entire subject and tone change, though, when Edmund and Forst drive over to Giewont to check out a crime scene.
A dead body is found stuck on a big metal crucifix structure on one of the hills, suggesting that the body has been left to convey some meaning. The police detectives initially try to pass it off as a suicide, as they do not want the media to create any frenzy, and so Forst also tells the same to a journalist named Olga Szrebska. Since Olga manages to sneak into the crime scene, she and Forst exchange some heated words before ultimately becoming friends. But before the small, snowy town can solve this mysterious death, a second body appears, left in a more ritualistic manner, making it evident that both are the acts of the same perpetrator. As Forst and Olga join hands to investigate the serial killings, more shocking revelations from the past are made.
Who are the victims, and what is the connection between them?
When examining the first dead body on the crucifix structure, Forst found a coin inserted in the man’s mouth, and a similar-looking coin was also found on the body of the second victim, a young woman. The coins are old-looking, with similar engravings and designs on them. When the detective looks into the matter further, it is revealed that the coins were aureus, or Roman gold coins, with Gothic designs from around the 2nd century. While the historical connection of the coins is clear, how they tie in with the murders is revealed only much later in the show. At this time, Forst is mysteriously removed from the case by his boss, Edmund, and the reason for it seems to be that the higher-ups in the police force do not like Forst’s proximity to media personnel. The protagonist is instead moved to a different case, which is to find a young man named Rozwadowski.
Rozwadowski is the son of a local politician, and the young man has a habit of going missing for a few days quite frequently until he is found heavily drugged or drunk or involved in some other scandalous house parties. Therefore, Forst wastes no time or effort in investigating this case, and he instead keeps secretly looking into the murders. However, when the body of a third victim is also found, it seems like Forst could have stuck to his assigned case, for the man is Rozwadowski himself. The young man’s body had been dumped beside a river, and although his head had been decapitated, his identity was confirmed through tattoos and other bodily features. The politician is also sent a severed finger with an iconic ring on it, one that his son used to wear, and this makes it clear that the hostage seen at the very beginning of the show was Rozwadowski.
A major lead is found when the phone movements of the first victim are tracked, and the last location happens to be the headquarters of an organization called Mountain Remembrance. The foundation is a historical society responsible for maintaining archives on the ethnographic group known as the Goral people, and particularly their history in the Tatras mountains and the Polish highlands, or Podhale. When Forst and Olga sneak into the headquarters and look through the place, they eventually find a hidden photograph of a horrific incident from the past. In the photo, a number of men are seen making fun of a couple, whom they have just hanged to their deaths from a tree branch. This photograph becomes extremely important for the case in Detective Forst since it is soon revealed that the three victims killed by the serial killer were all descendants of the men who had participated in the heinous atrocity in the photo.
What is the history behind the photograph?
The photograph was taken during the treacherous times of WWII, which greatly affected Poland historically. Although the Gorals and the others living in the region were mostly against the Nazis, some started working as collaborators for the fascist regime, and they kept harassing and killing the locals. The photograph actually shows one such group, having kidnapped the couple and killed them mercilessly, even making a mockery out of their misery. As the show progresses, it is revealed that the leader of this group, a wealthy man named Leon Lowotarski, is still alive, and so he naturally becomes the next victim of the serial killer, who is surely out on a hunt against the Nazi collaborators from history.
But one question still remains as to why these collaborators were being killed only now, after so many years of the incident. The answer to this is revealed when Forst learns that a woman named Halina is involved in the murders. During the persecution of the Gorals in the past, one particular woman had been able to escape the torture, and she returned to town in a pregnant state a few years after the war ended. Before her death, she gave birth to a girl named Halina, and it was very obvious that Halina was a child of rape. However, she was never made aware of any of this, and Halina learned of her true past only when she was a grown woman and after she did research on her heritage. The woman also found out that it was Lowotarski himself who was her father, and it was then that she devised a vengeful plan in order to punish all of the perpetrators and collaborators of the horrific crimes.
Forst realizes that the woman happens to be the same Halina, who was the director of the orphanage that he had grown up in. As soon as he and Olga return to the Mountain Remembrance building, they find out that it was not Halina who had directly committed any of the murders. The woman wanted to take revenge against the atrocities committed against her mother and the others in the region, and for this reason, she had employed an old acquaintance named Iwo Elijah. The man had grown up in the same orphanage ever since his boyhood days, and this enabled Halina to manipulate Elijah into committing the murders for her. However, there is an immense twist in the tale, as Elijah has his own motives behind the killings, and he was not simply following the orders of Halina.
Who was the Beast of Giewont?
The title Beast of Giewont had been assigned to the serial killer both by the media and some of the police authorities. Among the latter, the police prosecutor, Dominika Wadrys Hansen, repeatedly uses the term to refer to the killer while speaking with the press, and naturally, the name sticks. Although it becomes very obvious that the Beast of Giewont was actually Iwo Elijah, the exact reason for his murders is not really clear. Although Halina believed that she was making Elijah commit the murders, the man was actually acting completely out of his own accord. Firstly, Elijah seems to have been committed to the act of punishing the Nazi collaborators and all their existing descendants, and therefore, he even kills Halina since she is the daughter of Lowotarski.
However, Elijah’s main target was not to carry out fatal punishment, but to attract the attention of the protagonist, Wiktor Forst. Both Halina and Elijah knew Forst, since the latter had grown up in the same orphanage. This was the reason that Halina had paid Edmund to get Forst off the serial killings case, as she did not want his involvement in the matter. On the other hand, Forst and Elijah had been best friends during their childhood until a particular incident in their early teenage years. While Halina was away from her room, the two boys sneaked into her room and attempted to steal a locket that the woman always wore. In fact, this locket was an aureus coin, which Halina had possibly gotten from her mother. It seems like the coins were reminders of the torture that the Gorals had to face, and therefore, similar coins were left behind on the dead bodies.
Neither Forst nor Elijah had any specific reason to steal the locket, as they did it only out of curiosity, but Halina obviously took the mischief very seriously. As they were about to get caught, Elijah covered for Forst, taking all the blame upon himself, and helped his best friend escape punishment. The two boys had even sworn to be brothers for life by then, and Elijah was extremely committed to this promise. He suffered through the entire beating, but was shocked to see his best friend get adopted by a family soon after. The family originally had plans of adopting Elijah also, but his marred record, due to the locket theft, discouraged them, and the boy’s course of life completely changed.
While the protagonist was adopted by the Forst family and grew up to be a detective, Iwo Elijah grew up with a strong vengeance inside him to find the brother he had once made and punish him for this betrayal. But Elijah also has a different identity in the show’s context, for he is actually Gjord, the husband of prosecutor Dominika. When Forst gets a modern sketch of his friend made and sends it over to Dominika’s office, the woman tries all her best to protect her husband and instead pins the blame on Wiktor Forst, who becomes the prime suspect in the case for some time.
What happens to Forst and Iwo Elijah?
Detective Forst‘s ending reveals that Elijah has taken Agata hostage and threatens to kill her in order to bait out the detective. This is exactly what happens, as Forst desperately looks for the shack where the perpetrator had been torturing and killing his victims. However, the detective is too late to be able to save Agata, and the young woman is already dead. Eventually, a great fight breaks out between Forst and Elijah, as a result of which both men fall out of the window and gravely injure themselves. When the police finally arrive at the place, only Forst is found in an injured state, along with the bodies of Agata and another young police officer.
The detective fears that the killer must have gone over to Nina’s house, his most trusted colleague, with whom he had also left Olga at the time. By now, Forst and Olga had become lovers, and so the man rushed to the place, only to find it empty. Nina’s dead body is found, with a coin left beside her, suggesting that Elijah had killed her. But there is no sign of the killer or of Olga, and a teasing scene at the end reveals Elijah lying inside a van in a semi-conscious state, with Olga driving the vehicle. This can suggest multiple things, starting with the possibility that Elijah had managed to kill Nina but then got outsmarted by Olga, who took him captive. However, it is also very possible that Olga has always been on Elijah’s side, and she now reveals her true colors and gets together with him, perhaps driving him to a safe place. Either way, what exactly Olga does now and what her plan is will only be revealed in Detective Forst season 2, if any such iteration is made.