The mini-series does not take place in Dortmund, but only a few kilometers away in Duisburg. Inspector Alexandra Enders (Tezel), called by everyone just Alex, is a policewoman who would probably have liked the old warrior Horst Schimanski: tough, direct, without airs and always looking for the truth. At the beginning of the series, however, she is on her way to maternity leave, as she is expecting her first child soon.
The fact that she does not feel psychologically quite ready to become a mother will play an important role in the further course of the plot. In any case, the flippant remark escapes her at the station that she would never have liked to become pregnant. A remark she regrets bitterly after being overpowered, drugged and kidnapped by two masked men in her car. Because when she woke up a week later, covered in blood, in a wood, her baby bump was gone.
The re is no trace of the baby that was obviously born, and Alex cannot remember anything.
“Unbroken” begins with a blatant shock effect – the blood-covered young woman who appears at night in front of the window front of a single-family house in which a little girl is celebrating her birthday – and then first shows the events before the kidnapping in a flashback. When Alex is back, we learn that her colleagues, under the guidance of her partner and superior Paul Nowak (Özgür Karadeniz), searched in vain for her for a week and found no clues. Another leap in time: three months later, Alex has apparently recovered somewhat from the events and is back on duty. In her investigation into the case of a murdered young Romanian woman who was illegally placed as a surrogate mother, she sees parallels with her own abduction. Nowak denies this. Alex soon investigates on his own and eventually even suspects her partner of being in league with the human traffickers. But is that really true or isn’t the psychologically unstable commissioner just getting into something to get an answer to her agonizing questions?
An unresolved trauma, plus feelings of guilt because she didn’t really want the baby, but also an indomitable will to find it again, against all odds: no doubt, this Alex Enders has all the hallmarks of a modern series character. It is by no means as unbroken as the title suggests. About halfway through the six episodes, doubts creep in as to whether she hasn’t long since lost her mind, maybe there hasn’t been a kidnapping at all.
The authors Marc O. Seng (“Lerchenberg”, “Club of the Red Ribbons”) and Andreas Linke cleverly lay new tracks, which mostly lead in completely wrong directions. Unfortunately, after the strong opening sequence, they initially drift too much into conventional waters, episodes 2 and 3 look largely like a normal crime series that could also run in the evening program of the “big” ZDF.
That changes, however, in the last few episodes, in which Alex increasingly loses control of himself and (almost) exceeds all limits of acceptable action. A Whodunnit turns into a psychological thriller with a strong atmosphere (director: Andreas Senn).
The focus on psychology is emphasized by two other figures: On the one hand, Alex reluctantly has to seek treatment from the police psychologist Kathrin Brenner (Leslie Malton), on the other hand, her father Richard (André Jung), who used to be a commissioner and partner of Nowak, suffers had severe dementia. And of course, the father’s past is somehow linked to recent events.
Aylin Tezel, who was unfortunately never really able to show her acting skills as Jörg Hartmann’s assistant in “Tatort”, is largely convincing in the lead role, even if she is sometimes a little too thick in the very emotional moments.
The supporting roles are also consistently well cast. Incidentally, it is remarkable that the ZDF has cast two Turkish-born actors as German detectives who have no migration background at all.
Since the plot turns out a bit too conventional in between, the question must be allowed whether the story would not have been even more convincing as a more compact two-parter. But of course mini-series are more in vogue and sometimes stories are stretched that are not so good at that. In this case you shouldn’t be put off by it and get through the drought in the middle. In particular, the two final sequences then achieve a tension and intensity that are worth it. And so much can be revealed: the authors manage to bring all the threads together to a thoroughly convincing resolution. By then at the latest, the audience’s attention should also be unbroken.
This text is based on the viewing of the complete miniseries “Unbroken”.
My rating: 3,5 / 5
ZDFneo will show the miniseries “Unbroken” on Tuesday, February 23rd and Wednesday, February 24th, from 9.45pm, each with three episodes. All six episodes are already available in the ZDFmediathek.
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