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THE UNLIKELY MURDERER (2021, SWE) – 7.5 / 10

Who killed Prime Minister Olof Palme in front of a cinema in Stockholm on the night of February 28, 1986 is a question to which Sweden and the rest of the world have yet to answer. In these 35 years, various theories have emerged, and it was not until June 2020 that the Swedish State Attorney’s Office announced that the killer was most likely Stig Engström, also known as the Scandinavian Man. As the very name of this true-crime Swedish feature suggests, Stig is that “unlikely” killer, and the series is based on the 2018 novel of the same name written by investigative journalist Thomas Pettersson. This journalist was also the screenwriter of a series that in a typical true crime style observationally and comprehensively tries to investigate and bring the whole case closer, and the series is for the most part narrated from the perspective of an unlikely killer.

Engström was embodied by the almost unrecognizable Robert Gustafsson, a Swedish comedian and actor whom we perhaps best remember as investigator Peter Wendel from the nordic-noir series “The Truth Will Out”. Engström, then 52, was a graphic designer at insurance company Skandija who initially had the status of a witness to the assassination of the prime minister. But since the beginning of the series, Stig has been portrayed as the prime suspect in the murder, and as time goes on we realize who he really was and what could have prompted him to make such a crazy move. We are, of course, following an investigation that started quite sloppily from the beginning and was conducted quite badly all the time, and there were a number of theories in which it was assumed that Palme’s murder was an assassination.

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Palme was a social democrat who was equally critical of the Soviet Union and American imperialism, a progressive who was sharp against all authoritarian regimes, and advocated decolonization. He was extremely liberal and was therefore extremely hated even among Swedish conservatives so there were indeed many who would like to get rid of him. It is therefore not surprising that the theory that Palme would be killed by a mad loner was initially rejected, but in a series whose plot is nonlinear and we follow the investigation in various time periods, we will see how and why it was concluded that the killer could be Stig Engström .

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Just as “The Unlikely Murderer” was a true crime investigative series, so is the psychological, character study of the man who apparently shot the prime minister in the street in front of his wife and son out of pure peace. We will see who Stig Engström really was and what could have led him to the murder, but also what his life looked like in the months and years after the murder. In this part, this series is also the best because we will understand that Stig may not have been that typical sociopath and psychopath, but a deeply complex type with a built-in feeling of inferiority that he obviously tried to prove in this way.

We will see how he tried with all his might throughout his life to flatter himself into high society, among the rich conservative snobs who looked at him with obvious contempt and ridicule, and his complexes only grew stronger with age. We will also see how he was a man eager for attention and how miserable and miserable he was when as a witness he became uninteresting to the media and journalists. This series was a typical example of well-researched true-crime content in the footsteps of Truman Capote, a fine observation about how one deeply injured guy who was also an alcohol addict could actually do something like that.

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