The Case Begins
Much like The Woods before it, Polish crime drama Signs is a methodically paced murder mystery that certainly takes its time getting to the good stuff. For the most part, this first episode is taken up by heavy exposition and slow-paced character work as we start to get accustomed to the main players we’ll be following across the season.
A quiet mountain village, a tight-knit community and a woman shot twice in the chest. These are the scenes that greet us during the show’s opening prologue.
Welcome to episode 1 of Netflix’s latest murder mystery Signs (Znaki). As we later find out, this young girl is called Laura and the last thing she heard before dying, is her Mother revealing that she hates her.
We then skip forward in time as Chief Trela arrives at the police station to oversee the case. He immediately puts his associate Sobczyk to work and questions him over the old lady Zofia he’s been talking to at the station. He also asks about the strange healer, Jonasz.
Their conversation is cut short though when fellow officer Ada arrives and turns the conversation to Trela’s daughter Nina. The happy reunions will have to wait though, as a teary-eyed officer bursts in the room and reveals that Father Wincenty has passed away. They suspect a heart attack but the autopsy will, of course, reveal all.
Up at the crime scene, Trela becomes distracted and races off with Ada. Down at a make-shift church, he grabs Jonasz and questions him over his “abilities” and scamming old people with his water bottles.
Despite being kept in police custody, Trela remains quiet over his reasoning for doing so with his colleagues. Given his steely focus, he forgets to pick up Nina from school. Thankfully though she winds up getting a lift from Agata, one of her classmates who clearly doesn’t play by the rules.
After a run-in with Zofia at her house, Trela heads back to the station and starts questioning Jonasz. He’s reserved and continues to lean heavily on his religious ties to block every question. Only, Trela sees through this and calls him out for his facade, especially given his real name has been hidden from everyone.
Jonasz smiles wryly, telling the police chief that they’re “just white lies”. Trela has his number though and when he mentions the water being laced with ecstasy, that smile quickly disappears. This also explains why his followers claim it has magical powers.
Feeding back the news to Ada, she receives multiple calls regarding her best friend Patrycja,who’s gone missing. While Ada rushes over, Trela heads out into the woods to try and find some clues. There, he finds Pawel, the young girl’s Father, passed out on the ground. When he awakens though, he can’t remember anything.
After Agata’s graffiti stunt at school, she takes Nina out with her into the woods where they start drinking. When Patrycja doesn’t show later that day, Trela suspects something amiss and starts a search. Under the blanket of darkness, the flashlights and police dogs find a body hidden in the woods, which is where the episode ends.
The Review Write-Up
With a slow, glacial opener, Signs certainly takes its sweet time to get into the story. The visual setting of Poland is great though and much like The Woods, a lot of the establishing shots make great use of the natural beauty in the European country.
Trela is unfortunately incredibly archetypal for this role and there isn’t a lot for him to work with. There really isn’t that much here to suggest this show is any different from the myriad of other murder mysteries out there either, which doesn’t help.
Hopefully going forward the show can improve but right now, Signs gets off to a pretty average start.