This is the story of an attack where the focus is not of protagonists’ efforts to avert the terrorists’ plans. In fact, it’s not even remotely interested in the identity of the attackers. This is the story about what an attack can explain about us, about those of us who don’t carry weapons, about how the society that terrorists wish to divide through terror is built. Therefore, it’s clear from the outset of this Danish miniseries that there’s going to be an attack. “When the Dust Settles“, recently released on Filmin, and one of the year’s top television dramas thanks to the outstanding quality in all its aspects, but especially in the screenwriting; a puzzle calculated to the millimeter. From the beginning, the spectator is told what is going to happen: hooded men enter a restaurant in Copenhagen and open fire indiscriminately targeting everyone inside. The miniseries is very cleverly structured in two parts: half produced before the attack and the other half produced after the attack.
This decision creates two very useful differentiated parts for the purpose of the two creators of this miniseries, the scriptwriters Ida Maria Rydén and Dorte Warnøe Høgh, who want to talk about the need to reconcile with each other, to know how to live together, to give each other mutual support, to live up to the responsibility that a collective existence implies. To do so, they must put the context first and they do so through the stories of several characters, who even though they are members of the same society and whose lives are connected, they all walk significantly different paths. They intersect constantly and, sometimes, the decisions of one affect the existence of others. These are characters with remarkably different profiles that serve to examine the elements that separate us as a society. As such, racism and socioeconomic differences are two central themes that play an important role for many of these characters. The first part of the miniseries depicts them dealing with these issues and trying to overcome their respective adversities through remaining oblivious to the fragility of their own existence, which is moments away from being shattered by two complete strangers. The miniseries reminds us of this through fragments that abruptly assault the viewer and cut the flow of action to showcase details of the attack related to each of the characters.
By the time we get to the attack, the characters already form part of our lives. We are participants in their dreams, concerns, miseries, sadness, anguishes. The second part of the miniseries explores how what happened affects each character, but above all, it depicts the association between the differences we’ve witnessed in previous episodes as a key factor in explaining violence. The best summary of this is the speech scene featuring the character of the Minister of Justice, who assumes that society is too divided and that the eyes that look upon their neighbor as a stranger are so common that it is impossible not to create first-and second-class citizens in any nation that wants to consider itself civilized, progressive and modern. While our different characters try to assume what they’ve been through, the miniseries clearly points to reconciliation as a necessity in order to achieve a better world in which to live together. Humane, sensible at the right point and crude when it has to be, “When the Dust Settles” is one of the best series to have graced VoD servers this year.