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The Biggest Unanswered Questions In The Chestnut Man Season 1

A good Nordic Noir show is exactly what a perfect autumn needs, and Netflix has been happy to scratch that particular itch with "The Chestnut Man." Based on a novel by Søren Sveistrup (The creator of esteemed Nordic Noir show "The Killing"), this six-part crime drama focuses on the hunt of a brutal serial killer that seems to focus on mothers, and leaves creepy chestnut figurines in his wake. What's more, the case is seemingly related to one Kristine Hartung (Celine Mortensen), the missing daughter of high-ranking politician Rosa Hartung (Iben Dorner). 

As is the law of this genre, two suitably weary detectives with a heaping helping of personal issues are on the case. Mark Hess (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) is a reluctant Europol liaison with a haunted past, while Naia Thulin (Danica Curcic) is trying to escape her tendency to become too absorbed in her investigations. Over six episodes, the two struggle to uncover the identity of the Chestnut Man, and stop the killer's deadly crime spree ... but even their crack investigative team isn't able to answer these big unanswered questions in "The Chestnut Man" season 1. Spoilers ahead

How did the killer manage to become the guy who discovered his victim's fingerprints?

The Big Bad of "The Chestnut Man" turns out to be none other than Simon Genz (David Dencik), the forensic expert who has been hovering on the background of the investigation all along. Simon's real name is Toke Bering, and his past tragedies and bad experiences in the foster system have turned him into a ruthless serial killer who targets neglectful parents. His vendetta against Rosa Hartung comes from their childhood, as Rosa was a fellow foster child who got Simon and his sister moved into a new, nightmarish foster home by telling lies about him. Simon is a cruel, cunning, and intelligent man, but one part of his character arc is a little bit hard to swallow: How did the Chestnut Man, of all the people in the world, manage to become the very person who found Kristine Hartung's fingerprints in the chestnut man figure? 

As Showtime's "Dexter" is happy to tell you, working with law enforcement is a tried and tested career path for a fictional serial killer who wants to scout potential victims and keep tabs on potential investigations about his crimes. However, it's one thing to work with the police, and something entirely different to maneuver yourself in a position in which you're the very guy who uncovers a crucial piece of evidence about your own plans. It takes some serious suspension of disbelief to buy that Simon somehow manages to create the exact career path that allows him to get his mitts on the chestnut man figurine, and provide the investigators with the fingerprints of the girl he personally kidnapped.

How will the Hartung family move on?

Scandinavian crime dramas are rarely joyful affairs, but rarely does a show break its characters like "The Chestnut Man" season 1 does. The Hartung family gets it particularly bad, and though the ending of the show is somewhat happy for them, it's clear that everyone involved is going to struggle with the aftermath for quite some time. 

Apart from having to cope with the abduction and supposed murder of her daughter for a whole year, Rosa now has to deal with the fact that even though Simon was a very disturbed individual, the motive for his Chestnut Man murders — as well as Kristine's kidnapping — came from Rosa's own actions as a child. This is some pretty heavy baggage for a politician who has dedicated his life to ruthlessly fight child abuse, and "The Chestnut Man" shows what heavy toll the events of the show take on her life and career.  Rosa's children, Kristine and Gustav (Louis Næss-Schmidt), aren't much better off, as both are abducted to avenge the various of their mother — by different culprits, no less. Kristine has it particularly bad, as she spends a long time living in a hidden shack, with just Astrid Bering (Signe Egholm) standing between her and the deranged Simon.   

There would no doubt be multiple seasons of enticing TV in the story of how the Hartung family will deal with their many traumas going forward. Unfortunately, "The Chestnut Man" season 1 pretty much wrapped up their narrative arc, so unless a potential second season plans to revisit these characters, the viewers will remain in the dark about their ultimate fate.  

Will Thulin stay with the cyber crime unit?

Naia Thulin is an excellent field investigator who nevertheless starts the show with a mission to acquire a cozy desk job at the cyber crime unit. Of course, there's a very good reason behind this counterintuitive career pivot. Thulin has come to realize that her tendency to go all in with her cases is severely hurting her personal life. 

The end of "The Chestnut Man" season 1 reveals that the Chestnut Man case was indeed Thulin's last rodeo, and she's now adjusting to her new life as a desk jockey. There's just one problem: She just played an instrumental part in solving what must have been one of the worst crimes in her country's history, and while the Chestnut Man case was traumatic to her in many ways, the show makes it very clear that she's a born field worker. With her mindset and drive, is there any chance that she'll be happy on her new career path? What's more, her superiors are very well aware of her skills. Is there any chance her current squad won't loan her to the homicide unit the moment the next grisly, seemingly unsolvable murder takes place? Is there any chance she'd say no to such a chance?

Will Thulin and Hess become a couple?

On paper, the relationship between Naia Thulin and Mark Hess is almost like a cliché. They're new partners with radically different temperaments and backgrounds, and they find it difficult to get along. However, over the course of the investigation, they discover that they work extremely well together, and eventually start to get along.  

In practice, of course, "The Chestnut Man" paints the characters rather differently than you'd assume, and the relationship between the two is allowed to grow organically. Even the inevitable undercurrent of romance between Thulin and Hess is mostly treated as something that may or may not become a larger factor in their lives later down the line. After all, they're both professionals, and right now, there are murders to solve. 

While this is a realistic and nuanced take on the subject of crime drama romance, it also leaves this particular storyline without a clear payoff. While the show heavily hints that Thulin and Hess may very well see where their mutual attraction takes them, season 1 ends before this can really happen — and since their professional partnership appears to be over, as well, viewers can only wonder whether they will indeed become a couple or drift apart. 

Could there be more Chestnut Men?

Season 1 of "The Chestnut Man" is a pretty self-contained story, and it wraps most of the characters' storylines well enough that very few plot threads are left hanging. As for the titular serial killer himself, Simon Getz decidedly doesn't survive the events of the season, and it's very difficult to see him bouncing back from his extremely graphic demise. 

That being said, "The Chestnut Man" does leave you with the intriguing — and horrifying — possibility that other people might be inspired by Simon's twisted mission to punish the women he deems bad mothers. While the show doesn't explicitly state that there might be a Chestnut Man copycat on the way, it does show that Linus Bekker (Elliott Crosset Hove) appears to know the killer, and even happily covers for him. Is Linus the only one with such knowledge, or are there more Chestnut Man sympathizers out there? While the high-profile case is now seemingly over, could it be that someone out there is already making new chestnut figurines and hatching their own evil plans? Perhaps one day, we'll get the answer — preferably in the shape of "The Chestnut Man" season 2