Iwo Elijah In ‘Detective Forst,’ Explained: How Did Halina Turn Elijah Into A Serial Killer?


The snow-covered Tatra Mountains and continuous snowfall make a perfect canvas for Netflix’s serial killer thriller, Detective Forst. And the well-crafted shots with an eerie background score set the mood just right. While visually, the Polish series had certainly been refreshing, narratively, it didn’t offer anything that we hadn’t seen before. Maybe Polish author Remigiusz Mroz can debut as the country’s Harlan Coben, the writer popularly known for his unpredictable twists and turns, and Netflix has always been a fan of such narratives. The series revolves around a killer committing a series of religious killings in the heart of Podhale. He mercilessly tortures and amputates his victims before hanging their naked bodies on a cross. In a way, he wanted to crucify them for their sins, and he left behind a biblical coin in their mouths to send a message to the investigators. And as the bodies piled up and caught media attention, the serial killer was branded as the Beast of Giewont due to the nature of his crimes.

Spoiler Alert

The police department, on the other hand, brought in their most skilled detective, Wiktor Forst, the man who himself was suffering from the horrors of his traumatic mind. The sight of the Aureus coins reminded Wiktor of a blurry childhood that haunted him throughout the narrative. As the series progressed further, it was revealed that the serial killer was connected to Wiktor’s troubled past. It was his childhood friend, Iwo Elijah, who had come back to take revenge on the person whom he once considered a brother.

Why did Elijah hate Wiktor so much?

Throughout the series, Wiktor has been an unreliable narrator of past events. We didn’t know anything about his or Elijah’s childhood except through the blurry flashbacks that Wiktor got throughout Season 1. In one of the flashes, we saw that a fat man was ruthlessly beating Elijah with a belt, and even though Wiktor was a witness to such a traumatizing event, he didn’t do anything to help his friend. Instead, he left the orphanage with his new foster parents. We don’t know when and where this incident took place or who Elijah’s abuser was, but what Elijah remembered was the fact that his only friend, Wiktor, abandoned him when he needed him the most.

Elijah had been a religious fanatic since childhood. He even took a blood oath from Wiktor to remain “brothers forever” and protect each other through thick and thin. But Wiktor betrayed Elijah’s trust and left him to his fate, never to return again. A young Wiktor had broken the very foundation of their oath, which Elijah could neither forget nor forgive. Perhaps the day Wiktor walked out of his life, Elijah swore to take revenge on him. 

And last but not least, Wiktor had stolen from Elijah what was rightfully his. According to an incident from the past, the two friends-cum-brothers were fascinated by Halina Krol’s coin necklace and therefore planned to steal it from her office drawer. Halina caught the young boys red-handed, but in order to protect Wiktor, Elijah took the entire blame, after which the Forsts refused to adopt Elijah and took Wiktor instead. Perhaps the young Elijah thought that Wiktor would protect him too, like he had protected Wiktor in front of Halina, but Wiktor was too scared to tell the truth. He never revealed the truth to his foster family, who, till the very end, believed Elijah was a common thief. Throughout his life, Elijah blamed Wiktor for a ruined childhood, which he couldn’t get back. Halina, on the other hand, exploited Elijah’s hatred for her own means.

How Did Halina Turn Elijah Into a Psychotic Serial Killer?

It is said that parenting can either make or break a child’s future. I believe Elijah was just a traumatized kid who needed psychological treatment for the things he was going through. But instead of getting the right medical attention, he got an evil lady who turned him into a monster so that she could seek her own vengeance. Halina’s mother belonged to a family of Nazi sympathizers who were executed after Hitler’s fall. It was at this moment that a former Nazi named Leon Lowotarski traced down the daughters of these executed families and took them to their secret brothel in order to turn them into sex workers. None of these women ever returned from Leon’s den, except for Halina’s mother, Miroslawa, who showed up in Zakopane with a nine-month-old child in her belly. The woman died a few years later, leaving behind her only daughter, Halina Sznajderman, who later became Halina Krol, and swore to take revenge on her father, Leon Lowotarski, who had probably raped her mother, Miroslawa.

Elijah, however, knew a different story. Halina had told him that they were targeting Nazi collaborators, while throughout this time, Halina had been using Elijah as a means to quench her own thirst for revenge. It was Leon who revealed the truth to Elijah when he informed him about his daughter, which is why Elijah didn’t think twice before putting a bullet in Halina’s head. 

Halina’s son always told his mother that she had brought up a monster and that there would come a time when she wouldn’t be able to tame him. It was what finally happened. Halina had set loose a murderous beast into the world who would never stop killing people because that’s the only thing that made him feel alive. Perhaps Halina believed that he would stop killing people once the Nazi mission was done, but she was very wrong. In future, Elijah will start killing each and every person who will either betray him or commit a sin in general. There is a very blurry line between right and wrong, and from the looks of it, Elijah doesn’t know the difference between the two. No matter how much he lied to his wife, Dominika Wadrys, Elijah would never be able to stop killing people, and it was just the beginning of it. Until now, Halina had given him a playground to run around in, but now the monster had the entire world at his disposal.

Why did Elijah kill Agata Osica and Staszek Kowalik?

Most serial killers follow a pattern and a motive, but Elijah lost track after Halina’s true identity came to light. Organically, such a transformation shouldn’t have been so sudden, but let’s just call it bad writing. After killing Halina, Elijah stopped targeting Nazi collaborators and started killing innocent individuals so that he could frame his worst nemesis, Wiktor Forst, for the murders. If we try to make sense of it, then it could be theorized that Halina’s betrayal triggered Elijah’s childhood trauma, and therefore he began a killing spree to fulfill his revenge. He even manipulated his wife, Dominika, to forge fake evidence against Wiktor so that he would rot in hell for the rest of his life. It’s just a bit odd that Dominika, being a public prosecutor for such a long time, bought a serial killer’s words against her own sensibilities. Even a layman could tell that Elijah was stuck in a vicious cycle and wouldn’t stop killing people ever, yet for some reason, Dominika believed that if she put Wiktor behind bars, her husband would return to the family and her life would be complete once again. Nevertheless, Elijah killed Agata to frame Wiktor, while he killed Staszek because the man knew too much.

Will Olga replace Halina in Elijah’s life?

From time to time, Detective Forst Season 1 labeled Iwo Elijah as a monster or a beast, and as we are aware, such creatures indeed need a master to tame them. Perhaps Olga Szrebska, the most mysterious character of Season 1, had been pulling Elijah’s strings from the very beginning. She could be the real mastermind. Elijah, on the other hand, was just a weapon, always ready to explode. If that’s true, then, in a very Frankensteinian way, Olga saved Elijah from getting arrested and succumbing to his injuries. It wouldn’t be wrong to speculate that this evil duo will return for Season 2, where Olga will use Elijah’s monstrosity to accomplish her own motives, the same way Halina did. But it will change Elijah’s character entirely. In such a case, he won’t be a cunning serial killer but a delusional butcher instead, ready to shed blood for his master. Perhaps Elijah just needs a reason to kill, and with Halina and Wiktor gone, he is left with none. It is where Olga will step in and use Elijah against her enemies. Or maybe she has already been doing the same; we are just not aware of her grand plans.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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