🇷🇺 THE METHOD 🇷🇺
The Method (2015-) is a Russian crime drama, thriller on Netflix. 16 x 47-54 min episodes in S1. Available with English subtites. 18 Cert UK.
“The main character is an extraordinary and mysterious person, at the same time, he (Rodion Meglin) is an outstanding inspector. Rodion is used to work alone in order to keep the secrecy of his unusual method. Young graduate Esenya Steklova is eager to get the internship with the glorious investigator but she could hardly expect the challenges she would face while working with Rodion. Together they investigate the cruelest crimes that took place in the history of Russian criminality.” IMDb
Konstantin Khabenskiy as Rodion Meglin
Paulina Andreeva as Esenya
Kirill Polukin as Sedoy
Vitaliy Kishchenkovas as Andrei Sergeyevich Steklov
Alexander Petrov as Zhenya
Yuriy Bykov as Chedoy
Makar Zaporozhskiy as Sasha
Sergey Sosnovskiy as Vadim Mikhailovich Bergich
Dmitriy Dyomin as Sledovatel
Oleg Vasilikov as Glukhoi
Director: Yuriy Bykov
Writers: Dmitry Ivanov, Milana Kasakina, Oleg Malovichko
Composer: Ryan Otter
Every episode, or “Film” as they are called in this series begins with a profound quotation read by Konstantin Khabenskiy. These quotes relate to the particular episode in question and are very thought provoking. Read them, think about them, they are there for a reason. I have included some throughout this review.
The crimes and criminals that Rodion Meglin and Yesenya investigate are based on real events and criminals. The crew worked with the police in order to gain access to the criminal records of the murderers portrayed in the series.
⚠️ This review contains mild spoilers ⚠️
I finished watching The Method a couple of weeks ago and whereas I usually write reviews a day or so after watching a movie or show this one… well… this one was different. I have, in truth, spent the intervening time decompressing and letting my thoughts and feelings (so many feelings) percolate and organise themselves, a bit. So, without further ado, this is my attempt at trying to put these into coherent words.
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with the first episode which establishes the main personnel, the context and the potential “big bad”. We meet Esenya the gifted, spoilt wild-child daughter of Andrei Steklov who wishes to be mentored by Rodion Meglin, a detective with a legendary degree of success and his own “method” (hence the show’s title). Meglin however has never shown the slightest inclination to mentor anyone, nor to share his method. Many have tried and failed to study under him but, astonishingly he accepts Esenya when she uses the unusual technique of just asking him.
You say, “For as long as I’ve been conscious.” But this is not true. Rather, you should say, “For as long as I have been unconscious.”
In episode 1 there is a necklace that is gifted with tragic results and a perpetrator who is caught (and more!) so far so relatively normal but, in truth, this episode while it sets the scene does NOT set the tone for the rest of the series. One might be forgiven for thinking this might be a Russian version of The Blacklist or Dexter however although it does have some similarities it is actually neither of the above. The Method is an episodic procedural, but it is delivered in a very unusual way. Do not judge this show by the first episode, it is so much more than you might expect! This is true Russian noir.
Rodion Meglin is a man who, it becomes increasingly clear, has very serious mental health issues. These issues affect him both mentally and physically and they are directly related to his work as a detective. He takes his medication washed down with swigs of alcohol from his ever-present hip flask. Rodion is covered in physical scars, mostly ones we never get to see the origin of, but these are only the visible ones. He smokes to excess with an endearing practice of collecting cigarettes (any kind) from literally anyone to put in his ever-present cigarette case. I am not sure I have ever watched a TV show where someone smokes quite so much. Meglin uses a key descriptor about himself, Esenya, the murderers they encounter and others “Our Kind” and it is upon this “trait” that his “method” centres.
“If I lose the battle with the demons before I die, help us all.”
When Meglin “solves” a case (and I use the word “solves” advisedly) he celebrates by buying himself a prickly cactus to add to his collection which decorates his apartment and which he meticulously cares for. These cacti are so symbolic it hurts as much as if you touched one, for these are much like Meglin himself and the outer world.
Esenya is equally interesting as a character, with her hedonistic lifestyle, casual and meaningless sex, her lack of deep connection to anyone (even her father) but a driven desire to excel in her chosen career. At one point she is more in contact with the “normal” life than that of Meglin through her friends but even then she is not “normal” herself. Her quirk is to use a pencil to hold back her hair. A key drive to her character and career choice is the unsolved murder of her mother many years before.
“If you are following a killer, you’re already behind.”
Leaving aside the two main characters for a moment it is worth considering the murderers and their victims themselves. As noted these are based on real people and crimes and are brilliantly reconstructed and acted. Many are truly horrifying, some are tragically sad and the majority involve children in one way or another. The whys are just as important as the wherefores. Unlike many shows there is no sentimentality about how these crimes are investigated, but that is not to say that they are not deeply affecting both for the viewers and the characters.
One of the other clever devices used in The Method is the CCTV footage and other scenes of the interrogation of Esenya which in the timeline is actually after everything else has happened. These are in every episode and here we see her with all the personal foibles of Meglin himself, the drinking, the smoking etc. We ask ourselves as viewers what has happened and what is it that these men want.
“Revenge makes the nights longer, but knives make them shorter.”
Another great decision was to always have a lead into the next episode at the end of the episode before. This is not done in the usual way as a “Next Week” but more organically, with a scene of what will lead straight into the next case. This dragged me kicking and screaming (not really) straight into watching the next episode.
“Killing is like giving birth to a child. I am the father and the mother. I open the door to another world.”
Something I have but mentioned yet is the humour in this show but believe you me it is often hilarious. One example is the wildly imaginative and often totally inappropriate introductions that Meglin invents to introduce Esenya (undercover or not) which are laugh aloud funny (she picks up on these herself as the show progresses).
The cinematography is fantastic in this show! Using time-lapse photography at certain points is perfect. I found myself getting excited whenever I saw Meglin’s car on the road to somewhere. I also loved the way that the different types of music are used, from the metal rock band to the classical and everything in between. The locations are a combination of uninspired Soviet architecture and houses that look as if they have survived, just, from the last war, with so much decrepitude, desolation, grimness and distress both exteriors and interiors.
“First, rule breakers are called criminals. Then psychos. And, finally, prophets.”’
No review of The Method should leave out the issue of mental health. This show bravely and unflinchingly delves into not only the effects of the mental health of the individual but also how those with mental health issues in Russia are institutionalised and treated.
The acting of everyone but especially Konstantin Khabenskiy and Paulina Andreeva is absolutely stunning in this show in every respect. Not a single weak link and that includes the child actors.
Threading through the series are corruption and machinations behind the scenes, cover-ups and stitch-ups. How the state identifies and uses those who have special “gifts” but discards them when it suits. The Method is a show about being different, acceptance, love, hate, guilt, forgiveness, revenge, justice, courage, cowardice and personal responsibility and it certainly challenges viewers’ beliefs about all of these. What makes a victim, how can they be avenged (or protected in advance) and what role do law enforcers and the judicial system play? It is also about how children are treated as being of vital importance. Not all these murderers are to be pitied, but in truth some are.
“No child has ever died from a mother’s embrace.”
Finally, most importantly, and the trickiest when it comes to avoiding spoilers, is the developing relationship and love story between Meglin and Esenya. There is a combination of his “tutelage” of her in his “method” and their developing, deepening personal connection. What I loved about this dynamic is that it all happens gradually, subtly and realistically. It is astonishing how good writing can get you to root for people who are not obviously “nice”. A couple of episodes later on may appear to be padding but they are really about character and relationship development. What we end up with is a love story that is positively and tragically Shakespearean in depth and impact. This is the main reason why I waited to write this review. I was devastated.
My final thoughts and feelings about The Method are that this now rates as one of my all-time favourite TV shows. Just occasionally a TV show comes along that has a deep and lasting effect, this is one of those shows. I can unreservedly recommend it to anyone who knows what they are getting into because this is not always an “easy watch”, in fact it is often discomforting. This is compelling, haunting viewing and I cannot wait to see season 2 when it arrives on Netflix at some point.
“Do you think I’m a monster? I’m the same as you. It’s just that I dared.”
The Method has won 4 awards and has been nominated for a further 9
APKiT Award Best Sound (2016) ~ Igor Inshakov & Igor Denisov
APKiT Award Best Film Editing (2016) ~ Max Polinksy & Nikolai Bulygin
APKiT Awards Best Acting in a TV Movie/Series ~ Konstantin Khabenskiy
TEFI (2017) Best Television Actor ~ Konstantin Khabenskiy
Trailer (unfortunately there are no trailers available with English subtitles however this does give a general idea of the atmosphere of the show):
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