Potential suspects emerge, but the real truth of the matter remains elusive in a frantic fourth episode.
This recap of The Chestnut Man season 1, episode 4 contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
The case of the Chestnut Man is beginning to weigh on Thulin. There are only so many dead and dismembered women you can see until you can’t stop seeing them, even if you’d like to. Hess is the same. The apartment he’s decorating is full of photos of the crime scenes and victims. He’s still convinced that this is all about Rosa Hartung, and after going back over the evidence surrounding Kristine’s murder, he’s found even more proof of that theory. In the area where she disappeared, there was a chestnut man next to her school bag.
The Chestnut Man season 1, episode 4 recap
The pressure is being felt among the police, too. Ricks is dead, and the entire department is mourning him. One of the officers, Jansen, even attacks Hess, blaming him for Ricks’ death. Meanwhile, Steen’s story is spreading like wildfire around both social and traditional media, putting Rosa’s political agenda into question — something not helped when Thulin and Hess arrive to interview her personally. The fact that Rosa was adopted, which we learn in this conversation, could be relevant. But there doesn’t seem to be anything else specific that would compel someone to target her, to call her a murderer, to kill her child, and use the fingerprints of that child as calling cards in serial murders.
Nevertheless, the forced placement cases made during Rosa’s tenure are the only things the police have to go on. Well, that and footage of Linus Bekker that contradicts his confession. Elsewhere, though, we see that Rosa’s driver, Jacob, is working with a currently unidentified woman, plotting against her, and in her own investigations into the forced placement cases, she and Steen recall a woman, a nurse, who had a child removed from her and made some egregious accusations against the authorities. This seems very much like the same person, seeking revenge for her child having been taken away from her.
In the meantime, Thulin and Hess go to see Linus Bekker, who, clearly, doesn’t remember killing Kristine Hartung. His medication makes him blackout and get confused, and it seems very much like he was coerced into a confession, potentially by the police (one assumes Jansen, who forced his confession, and who earlier assaulted Hess). He’s also well aware of the Chestnut Man. He claims to have realized when the machete was found that he was part of his plans, though how he knows any of this is anyone’s guess. Thulin and Hess figure it might have been from the police files and photos he hacked into, so ask Genz to send those over. In the meantime, though, they’re informed that Rosa and her PA, Liv, called the department to say they might have potentially found the perpetrator, but Jansen, who answered the call, never passed the message along.
When Thulin and Hess arrive, they’re briefed on Benedikte Skans, a 28-year-old nurse whose child was removed by the authorities when she suffered postnatal psychosis. The child died shortly afterward of a lung infection. Recently, Benedikte was released from psychiatric care and was reinstated in her old job as a nurse, and moved in with her boyfriend, Rosa’s driver. Since Benedikte would have had access to Magnus and Anne’s children on the ward, she’s suddenly the prime suspect, though it seems likely to me that these two are responsible for the harassment of Rosa, but not the Chestnut Man murders. Once the police realize who the driver is, though, Rosa is immediately informed, and Steen tells her that the driver has just taken Gustav.
The police are quick to put out an APB on the silver van that Gustav was taken away in, but Rosa and Steen, faced with the prospect of losing another child, are close to breaking down. Speaking of children, Le is not coping well with how much time she has to spend away from her mother, and would rather live with Aksel. She agrees to go over that evening and have more of a chat with her, but given how the case is heating up, it seems unlikely they’ll make it. Given Hess’s actions while meeting with Bekker, Nylander decides to split him and Thulin up, explaining to her that his young daughter died in the fire that killed his wife and that he has since exhibited mental instability.
Hess goes to see Frederik, Rosa’s long-time friend and colleague, and not-so-subtly accuses him of potentially being the murderer. He also checks Jacob’s work schedule, which gives an alibi for the night Jessie was murdered. He’s pulled away by a call from Genz, though, who has tracked down the van. When Hess gets there, he finds dead bodies, but not Gustav’s. Jacob and Benedikte, it turns out, weren’t exactly on the same page; he wanted to use Gustav to make a point, she wanted to cut him to pieces to make Rosa feel what she has felt (hasn’t she already felt that given the loss of Kristine? No matter.) Now they’re both dead. At a glance, it looks like Benedikte lost it, killed Jacob, and then killed herself. But I think we know better.
Meanwhile, Thulin investigates Jacob and Benedikte’s home in the abandoned foundry, where she finds hidden evidence, but also gets the distinct sense that someone is watching her, following her — a suspicion more or less confirmed by glimpsed reflections in pools of water and other such camera trickery. Whatever Thulin turned up, it seems to confirm, at least for Nylander, that these two were the killers. Nylander tells Rosa and Steen that they probably bought the chestnut men to torment her by leaving them at the crime scene, although given Benedikte was only psychologically cleared a year ago and Mathilde confirmed to Steen that she and Kristine didn’t make any chestnut men last year, the story already doesn’t hold up. Hess feels similarly, given Jacob’s alibi and the fact that the pathologist can’t confirm that Benedikte killed herself in the woods. But, thanks to a nosebleed and his generally frantic nature, his insistence is written off as his own instability. Especially since, as we see at the very end of the episode, Jacob and Benedikte had the missing hands and feet in their freezer.