Netflix’s The Chestnut Man season 1 premiere recap

The Chestnut Man Episode 1 - Courtesy of Netflix
The Chestnut Man Episode 1 - Courtesy of Netflix /

The season premiere of Netflix series The Chestnut Man begins with a man named Marius Larsen (Jens Jørn Spottag) visiting Ørum’s farm on the island of Møn in Denmark in 1987 regarding a small matter of loose cows.

The dog barking outside may be normal, but things become ominous when he notices a dead pig, which is like a harbinger of what’s to come. Investigating the scene inside the family’s home, Marius finds Ørum’s wife (Pia Hvilsted Sperling) dead at the table. Two other corpses are found, including one in a bathtub, killed with an ax and with blood all over the place.

A boy is found alive, presumably Ørum’s son (Silas Cornelius Van). Then Marius follows some gear sounds from the basement, where he discovers some strange, human-like figurines made out of chestnuts. There is another living victim found down there, named Astrid (Silje Enevig Holst). However, it seems she won’t be alive for long, as Marius is violently attacked and presumably killed.

The Chestnut Man: Murder, mystery, and backstory

We then get to Copenhagen in the present day, where we are awkwardly introduced to Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic), who is getting it on with a man named Sebastian (Kasper Leisner). It doesn’t seem Naia wants to take the next step with Sebastian and might be willing to call their relationship (such as it is) off. Later we also meet Naia’s daughter, Le (Liva Forsberg), who is working on a family tree project for her elementary school class. However, Naia is a little bit preoccupied with her police work.

On that note, Naia has a brief meeting with Nylander (Lars Ranthe), who had successfully worked on the “Hartung case,” though is herself applying for a new position in the cybercrime division of her department.

However, that gets held up as she is assigned to work with Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and Simon Genz (David Dencik) on a murder case. We also learn that the Hartung case involved politician Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner), whose daughter, Kristine (Celine Mortensen) was apparently killed by a man named Linus Bekker. We also meet someone on Rosa’s staff named Liv Christiansen (Marie-Lydie Melono Nokouda).

Rosa and her husband, Steen (Esben Dalgaard Andersen), are attempting to piece life back together after their daughter’s murder. They do have a son named Gustav (Louis Næss-Schmidt), who Rosa is supposed to pick up from school after her press conference. It isn’t much of a press conference, as she just gives a brief general statement. Then again, who can blame the character for not wishing to take many questions on such a troubling matter?

The new murder(s)

Naia learns a murder victim is Laura Kjær (Marianne Søndergaard), who was a dental nurse in Copenhagen. Her son, Magnus (Sofus Søndergaard Mikkelsen), woke up to an empty house. Laura’s last partner, Hans Henrik Hauge (Nicolai Dahl Hamilton), at least has a tentative alibi: He was attending an IT conference in the city of Roskilde. (Most murder investigations look at spouses, lovers, and family connections first, to thin down the list of suspects). There was no apparent theft motivation to the crime.

Genz and Hess join Naia to investigate the crime scene, in a park area. It’s quite ghastly, as Laura’s left hand was amputated. Hess asks if it could have been a dog that took the severed hand. Fittingly, for a show called The Chestnut Man, they find a chestnut man figurine. This is surely an intentional signature for the crime, as opposed to some accidental evidence. The question is, what is the message the killer wishes to convey, and why isn’t it clearer?

Seeking answers

Naia interviews Hans Henrik about Laura. He says he’s known her for about a year. When Naia mentions her knowledge that Laura had changed the locks to her home, Hans seems to get nervous. This adds an initial incentive to acquire a mouth swab and prints from Hans, as well as any dating site and online research information. It’s separately determined that Laura’s hand was cut off with a saw.

Naia soon gets a call from Genz, who gives her some shocking news: The fingerprint on the chestnut man left near Laura’s body is identical to Kristine Hartung’s! Unsurprisingly, Naia wants to speak to Rosa about it ASAP. Naia is soon greeted by Steen Hartung at the door, and she asks him how Kristine’s fingerprints could have gotten onto the chestnut man. Naia then asks if Kristine knew Laura Kjær, which leads to some potential leads.

The Chestnut Man fingerprint

Naia is told that Kristine had actually sold handmade chestnut man figurines with some of her friends. Obviously, this could be a huge lead, but to where? Unfortunately, Naia still doesn’t like working with Hess, who seems disinterested in the actual case. Elsewhere, Rosa Hartung is told by Liv about a threatening e-mail involving her daughter. An e-mail features pictures of Rosa’s daughter from Instagram, and the twisted e-mailer says “I hope this hurts, you deserve to die.”

Wisely or unwisely, Rosa declines bodyguards. Meanwhile, we meet a caretaker of Hess’s apartment named Nehru (Ali Kazim). Hess reads a newspaper article about Kristine Hartung’s murder, suggesting he’s at least somewhat interested in the case. Still, Naia seems much more involved, and like it could put a strain on her personally, whereas Hess is better at compartmentalizing different aspects of his life.

The case gets personal?

The Chestnut Man gets a little more personal than Naia expects after Le shows off the chestnut men project she’s working on. Revealing how they’re constructed, Le says “You just snap the tip off so they have no hands,” which reminds Naia of the missing hand from her recent case. Naia soon joins Hess to talk to Magnus at night about his mother’s untimely demise. Unfortunately, Magnus is more preoccupied with a video game called “Accursed.”

Still, Hess shows Magnus non-gory crime scene photos and, as if playing a game, asks whether something doesn’t belong to a photo. Magnus points to the chestnut man in the park photo. It’s still unclear where exactly the case is headed, but we do know involves chestnut man figurines. Also, Hans Henrik Hauge still has no 100% solid alibi — though that doesn’t mean he did any crimes.

What are your thoughts on The Chestnut Man? Let us know in the comments!

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