Before you find out who was the killer in Signs on Netflix, you can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words, and check out our in-depth recaps of every single episode by clicking these ones.
Netflix’s latest broody European crime drama, Signs (or Znaki as it was known when it debuted on AXN two years ago), debuted today. And it was… fine, I guess, if a couple of episodes too long, glacially paced, and attempting to juggle far too many competing subplots. In all that chaos, the real crux of the series, who killed the three women which connected the small-town setting’s dark secrets and hidden truths, got a bit lost. Luckily, having watched the whole thing, we’re in a position to tell you what’s what.
First, setup. Our protagonist is the new Police Commissioner Michal Trela (Andrzej Konopka), a morose alcoholic single father with a bright daughter, Nina (Magdalena Zak), who is fresh from Krakow after some unspecified trauma and is living with his deputy Ada (Helen Sujecka) and her husband Blazej (Michal Czernecki). It’s a complicated living situation, but try not to think about it too much. Before long, Ada’s best friend Patrycja (Alicja Pietruszka) is found dead from a neat double-tap to the heart, which is just how another young woman named Laura died a decade prior. Is the same killer stalking the nice-looking Polish landscape again? Or is there a copycat?
Part of the problem with Signs is that all of this is quite complicated, and not for any good reason. Patrycja, for instance, was having an affair with Blazej, who quickly becomes a suspect, but she was also employed by the contracting company that is helping the town’s dodgy mayor Antoni Paszke (Miroslaw Kropielnicki) to excavate a mine that contains, among other things, the bones of concentration camp prisoners and the plans for a secret Nazi anti-gravity machine. Antoni’s nutcase daughter Agata (Helena Englert) has secret MMA fights, a secret brother, and uses money stolen from the contracting company to take petty revenge on her boyfriend for sleeping with a rival – Nina falls in love with her nonetheless. Then there’s Jonasz (Andrzej Mastalerz), a local charlatan who sells tap water spiked with ecstasy as holy water, runs a compound of devotees, and is the sole carer of Dorota (Paulina Galazka), a girl with the mental age of a child. Roman Smigielski (Rafal Cieszynski) is the new priest in town after the old one died of a suspicious heart attack, and Trela’s predecessor, Jan Dzikowski (Zbigniew Stryj), is still investigating the apparent suicide of his son.
So, who is the killer in Signs? Well, there are two, and it was necessary for me to lay all that out so you have some kind of context for both. The first is Dzikowski. He murdered Laura all those years ago for the accidental death of his son, who didn’t commit suicide but was tricked into being hit by a train as part of a “trust game” involving Laura and Antoni’s son Robert (Dobromir Dymecki). Dzikowski went to see Robert in prison to get the lowdown, and the younger man was so scared that he fingered Laura as the culprit when it was really him. When Trela lays all this out to Dzikowski after being kidnapped by him in the finale, Dzikowski commits suicide.
That leaves another killer, and it’s the reveal of this one that allows Signs to linger longer in the memory than it otherwise would’ve, even if the culprit is very suspicious from very early on in the season. Nevertheless, that culprit is Krzysztof Sobczyk (Piotr Trojan), one of the local cops and a die-hard religious nut who believes he’s doing the Lord’s work by punishing “unclean” women for their sins. Patrycja was sleeping with Blazej, so she qualifies. And the third victim, Martyna (Karolina Owczarz), had sex with Agata’s boyfriend Radek in a revenge play that I assume counts as sinning. At the end of the first season, Krzysztof has kidnapped Nina for one assumes trying it on with Agata, since it was very strongly hinted that he’s a little bit in love with her – plus you know how religious nutters feel about homosexuality.
Yes, it’s a classic motive, but it’s given a bit of extra spice in Signs by the fact that Krzysztof is using the challenged Dorota as an accomplice – an unwitting one or otherwise, though one suspects that she’s into it. This is the kind of deeply twisted revelation that helps to give an otherwise mediocre season some long-term legs, and since there’s already a second season out there, inevitably due for the Netflix treatment at some point, it’ll be what pulls viewers back for more – if anything can do that, anyway.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.