Signs (Znaki) – Netflix Season 1 Review

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2/5

 

Overlong, bloated and lethargically written, Signs (Znaki) is a miserable murder mystery in desperate need of some excitement. It’s a show that ticks all the archetypal tropes for this genre but does so in such a lackadaisical way that it forgets to engage its audience along the way.

What we’re left with is a show that stretches out a five-episode concept to a bloated ten episode run…and then leaves things hanging with a cliffhanger ending during the finale.

The main story here begins in typical murder mystery fashion and introduces our first victim, Laura. After a phone call to her Mum, she turns around and receives two bullets to the chest for her trouble. We then skip forward 10 years to find another murder has taken place, with suspicious identical bullet wounds to Laura.

From here it seems likely that the two cases are linked together and the killer (or copycat killer) is on the prowl again. This sets up the basic premise to work with and on paper, there’s certainly some promise.

Between the cultists living with shady Jonasz and a shady company looking to push through construction work at the local Quarry, there’s plenty of motive and suspects to point fingers at. Aiming to quell any doubts over who the killer is, no-nonsense detective Trela arrives to oversee the case. Alongside the overly emotional Ada, the duo try to work together and solve the crime.

With no clues to go on and little in the way of leads for much of the run-time, Signs stumbles and mumbles through its 8 episodes trying to find some signs (no pun intended) to lead toward who the killer is. This poses a whole set of problems in and of itself given us – the viewers – have little to work with and little reason to become emotionally engaged. Even worse, the show throws in an utterly bizarre, left-field subplot around the Nazis and it feels completely off-kilter to the tone running through the rest of the series.

Along the way, there’s plenty of drama to pad out the run-time. Expect lots of teen melodrama (which eventually becomes entangled with the main narrative) and even a few last-minute twists to drag out the idea of a second season. I won’t spoil anything here but while the finale does reveal who the killer is, it only gives fragments to the whole story and it’s still unknown how everything slots together.

In a way, Signs (like Cursed earlier this month) is a textbook example of how not to write a story. The archetypal characters have little depth and Trela is a bland and forgettable protagonist with little charisma. By contrast Ada is overly emotional to a fault; her emotions cloud her judgment and consequently blind her detective work. This is made even worse when a new face arrives at the station in episode 9 and immediately finds clues that the others have missed for the previous 6+ hours.

With a cliffhanger ending and lots of questions still to be answered, by the end of this one you’ll be wondering what the point of the journey was. There’s little here that really stands out from the pack and the few glimmers of brilliance are drowned out by a wave of mediocrity and disappointment. Compared to other murder mysteries that have released this year, Signs is unfortunately a forgettable entry and not one to remember.


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  • 4/10
    Verdict - 4/10
4/10

17 thoughts on “Signs (Znaki) – Netflix Season 1 Review”

  1. If I could sum this series up in one word it would be FRUSTRATING!! While they had all the makings of a brilliant storyline it just simply didn’t deliver .. I watched willing it to get better rather than glued to the edge of my seat

  2. There is this bit on some episode of South Park where the kids want to pitch something to Netflix “because Netflix was accepting anything and everything”…

    Keeping in mind that SouthPark is always dead-on in its assessments…on to Signs…I agree with all that has been written about it – loose ends; zany, unnecessary subplots; seemingly kludgy detectives, maybe not endearing enough also; slow pace…lazy writing…

    But…

    I think credit must also be given where due. In random order.

    Michal Trela seems just incompetent as a detective, not systematic or inuititive enough [I wanted him to be at least like Columbo…]….but heck, maybe he is just as real as they come. Same with Ada. Having seen too many police detective dramas with female and male leads on Netflix – Capitani, Bitter Daisies, Bom Dia Veronica etc – one can see some real life frustrations creep in the line of actual police work…now it might have helped Trela if he had used the Netflix police technique of the “Wall of suspects and connecting the dots” – maybe Trela needs to watch more Netflix dramas…but I liked him as unsmiling, spare, coffee-swilling – and bumbling…

    How about vixenish-kickass-Agata? Her flashes of wickedness, manipulativeness, and yet soft corner for Nina was very well brought out…never did she seem to let her guard down…and boy was she smart as hell!

    And Marek, that shady pastor who sold holy water laced with speed? How chillingly cool and composed was he…I think that was a character and subplot quite well fleshed out tho’ not entirely…the shades-of-grey character…taking care of the “shipwrecked” but also leading a seedy existence…professional, gritty, endlessly resourceful…yet compassionate towards his wards, he seemed to be the whole town’s rotten conscience…

    Sobczyk was every bit the psycho he turned out to be…purse-lipped, passive-aggressive, chilling to the bone…

    Nina Trela, her of angelic complexion – she managed her emotions quite well and added a freshness to the story each time she appeared, dreamy, wistful, tentative…the near-kissing scene with Agata was classic.

    When you live with a story, a setting, a locale, and a cast of characters for some 15-20 episodes, forking your meals as you hungrily watch episode after episode, you go along for the ride, take in the bad with the ugly and the good…

    I knew nothing of Polish cinema/culture – I had no idea Poland had a film industry! – and now I know about The Mire and The Signs. Gory Sowie, here I come. I never knew the Polish countryside was so beautiful. Last I read up on Poland was about the heroic Lech Walesa and the coal-miners’ strike…

  3. What is the relationship between Trela and Ada other than police? I notice they lived in the same house but was never told of a relationship.

  4. I watched both seasons, mainly because I couldn’t believe that the end of Season1 was the finish! Don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. Plots within plots; ‘important’ plots in season1 mean nothing in season2; events out of the blue that aren’t explained until 2 or3 episodes later; a cast of characters, mostly shady, who all have bizarre and/or violent backgrounds and a final episode that still doesn’t seem like it’s the last. Phew, it was exhausting trying to keep up,but I’ll bet there’s more to come!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Which is the name of the song at the end of season 1? It’s awesome and I want to download it.
    Thanks!

  6. Very good serie, nice documentary on the polish life, nice actors. Alas, not enough money for a decent ending.

  7. I liked this mystery. It kept me interested. I guess a lot is lost in the translation. I noticed a mismatch in what was being said & the subtitles. And if you don’t know Polish history you wouldn’t understand the side plot. Oh well…”to each his own”.
    Thanks Martina for the song title: “Kowadło”

  8. I too was disappointed with the ending of episode 8. Leaving everyone hanging until 2021, after the misleading limited series tag. I might watch to see how the writers solved the crime. Depends on the pandemic and my desperation.

  9. Too many loose ends! But although most comments are negative, my husband and I watched this eagerly and really enjoyed it expecting an explainable outcome as to why all these events took place. I liked Tesla and Ada but things are never fully explained as to who, why and what were the reasons everything took place. We know who the killer was but WHY? We think Dorota was used as an accomplice. It felt as if there was a final episode that’s been lost somewhere. Shame really because we’ve watched loads of programs from Netflix and the Walter Presents series and have thoroughly enjoyed them example Professor T ( from Belgium ). Falke ( a German police series, unfortunately only 1) Rebeka Martinsson The Arctic Murder series. There’s a host of them to be found on the All4 channel look for the world drama section and select the Walter Presents series. Not all are great but the majority are.

  10. Hi Julie, the song’s name is Kowadlo, Znaki na wodzie. Artist is Slawomir Grzymek i Lekko Pijani.

  11. This may well be the absolute worst Netflix crime series ever. The characters are all unbelievably dull in mind, body and acting skill. If this is typical of Polish TV I feel sorry for the people having to endure such horrible entertainment. It deserves a negative star at best. Watch the Belgium produced Salamander to enjoy tremendous writing, acting and plot.

  12. Thanks for commenting Stuart, really glad you enjoyed the series!

    In terms of murder mysteries or crime dramas, I’d personally go for:

    -The Fall
    -Broadchurch
    -Mindhunter
    -The Sinner (Only seen season 1 though so can’t comment on the later seasons!)

    Also heard a lot of good things about Ozark and it’s on the backlog watch-list but haven’t got around to it just yet.

    Thanks again for commenting though, really appreciate you taking the time to read the review!

    -Greg W

  13. Hmmm , well I liked it a lot, thought Trela was very likable…. no idea what happened tho…….didn’t even realise that that was Nina in the final scene till I was looking for explainers.
    So what Would you recommend after such a negative review ?

  14. Hey Julie, thanks for commenting!

    I’m assuming this is in relation to the track playing during the credits? If so, then it’s “Revenge Song” by Louise Dowd, Timothy Fleet & Wayne Anthony Murray.

    Hope that helps!

    – Greg W

  15. Greg, Do you happen to know the name/artist of the song at the end of episode 8.
    Thanks, Julie

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