Faster Than Fear is a German show on the Topic channel featuring Friederike Becht as Detective Sunny Becker, an intuitive cop who has just returned from several weeks of sick leave for “pneumonia.” In her first week back, charismatic serial killer André Haffner (Felix Klare) escapes from a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, and Sunny earns the right to lead the manhunt. While working the case, it’s revealed that Sunny’s sick leave was really because of a brutal attack she experienced a few weeks earlier. As she goes through therapy, she becomes convinced that her rapist was another cop in her squad. But can she trust her memories?
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An opening scene on a roof with a potential jumper demonstrates Sunny is a fearless, if reckless, cop, who has a good working relationship with her partner Kuba (Oleg Tikhomirov). When Haffner escapes, she is dismayed that the chief gives the case to fellow detective Markus (Christoph Letkowski). But Markus misses a key clue that Sunny picked up, so the chief reluctantly shifts Sunny into the lead. While Sunny is thrilled, her boyfriend Alex (Golo Euler), a forensic tech, is upset. “It’s too soon, and this is the wrong case,” he tells her. Obviously, she stays on the case. Meanwhile, Sunny realizes she needs help to get through this, so she attends therapy sessions. It’s here that she figures out her attacker was a fellow cop-but who? As her paranoia and the pressure of the case worsen, Sunny alienates her squad, and Alex. But she will stop at nothing to catch Haffner.
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André is a handsome, charming man who has used romantic letters to convince many women on the outside to help him when he escapes. Sunny figures this out quickly, but it takes a while to convince the women that André is using them, especially his mother. While in prison, André had a tattoo done that covers his whole back and some of his legs. The tattoo looks like Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell“, but the faces are those of his victims, writhed in agony. Like many TV serial killers, Andre’s ego is huge, and he begins a cat and mouse game with Sunny, taunting her with phone calls.
Our Take on Faster Than Fear
Faster Than Fear is a solid, bingeable series, but it does get a little silly at the end. Also, the trope of the unstoppable female detective and the coy serial killer has been done ad nauseum. However, it’s elevated by something I love about German shows: they take the time to include interesting and unusual side characters or details. Here, the character is Babsy, (Steffen Münster) a trans woman tattoo artist in the asylum, herself an inpatient. She does a Hannibal Lecter “quid pro quo” deal with Sunny, and steals the scene. Also, I like the actress who plays Sunny-she was in Perfume (in our Top 30) and The Same Sky. The idea that a detective has the biggest case of her career AND is suspicious that one of her own squad raped her is completely implausible, but it works if you suspend disbelief. If you are willing to roll with certain things, Faster Than Fear will keep you hitting “next episode”.
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