“Angel of Death” – in the Head of a Psychopath [Review]

Angel of Death series


Title: “Angel of Death” (TV series 2020 – 2024)

Original Title: “Szadź”

Cast: Maciej Stuhr, Aleksandra Popławska, Bartosz Gelner, Anna Cieślak, Karolina Gorczyca


The Polish crime series “Angel of Death” surprised me first of all with the creation of Maciej Stuhr. Unlike the last season of “The Teacher,” his character comes off not only interesting, but also diabolical, and, since he is the main character of the story, keeps the viewer in a constant mood swing between anticipation of his next move and the desire to inflict punishment on him. The pace is kept up by the actor Aleksandra Poplawska in the role of the investigating policewoman, who is constantly treading on the toes of a dangerous serial killer. And the fact that we almost immediately learn the identity of the killer does not take anything away from the production, which, in my opinion, is one of the best Polish crime series of recent years.

“Angel of Death” and Maciej Stuhr

Issued by Player.pl, as well as HBO Max, the series “Angel of Death” has so far lived to see three seasons, which, for a criminal production that reveals at the outset who the killer is, must probably be considered an achievement. To this, it should be added that all seasons keep the level and do not disappoint with artificially convoluted plots aimed at prolonging the retardation of the plot indefinitely. On the contrary: each season has its own structure and drama, which are readable both as separate parts and a larger whole. Here we learn that there are several murders of young, religious women in and around Opole. Commissioner Agnieszka Polkowska, who is leading the investigation, quickly comes to the conclusion that the murders are of a ritualistic nature and are connected. Soon we learn the identity of the murderer, who is an intelligent and wildly engaging university lecturer, Piotr Wolnicki. And so begins the viewer’s pursuit of a psychopathic and dangerous mind.

For what matters in this pursuit is not so much detective cleverness, but the psychological game the protagonist plays with the policewoman following his trail and with us. In turn, the strength of the series “Angel of Death” is not only a good script, but above all well-written characters, who were lucky to have good actors. Maciej Stuhr in the role of a psychopath is surprising, because he managed to get viewers used to the positive dimension of his characters. In “Angel of Death” this sympathetic, confidence-inspiring side is also colossal, as it is through pretending to be a caring mentor that he has a chance to establish relationships with his victims. However, the other face of Wolnicki is awe-inspiring, as here we see icy calculating and a crime planned without any emotion, but with surgical precision.

Angel of Death series review

The series “Angel of Death” – non-paper characters and their mysterious plots

Poplawska once again proves in “Angel of Death” that in the role of uncompromising guardians of the law she feels like a fish in water. Like the prosecutor she played in “Wataha”, she presents a coherent, well-defined character with understandable motivations and an interesting story. Polkovskaya is by no means a crystalline heroine, but a complicated and messed up one. She resembles Kate Winselet from “Mare of Easttown,” broken by difficult experiences, and the criminal mystery she tries to unravel also becomes a vivisection of herself. Here we have her struggles with addiction, failed relationships and, above all, motherhood, which proves to be her most difficult and demanding role. I like the theme of Poplawska as a non-ideal woman, taking up the struggle for a second chance and attractive in her maturity and struggles with life.

Also noteworthy are supporting actors such as Tomasz Mrowiec, Anna Cieslak and Karolina Gorczyca. The former brings a bright, funny note and freshness to the dark series. As a policeman with a crush on two chosen women at the same time, he faces humorous dilemmas. What’s more, his plot of an affair with a woman older than himself is something of a novelty against the background of Polish series, and it comes off as spicy and interesting. Ant evokes genuine sympathy, and is able to establish a thread of understanding with the viewer, which pays off as his character develops. It’s also hard to reproach Anna Cieslak as Wolnicki’s wife, the actress does a good job of building the understatements hidden in this creation. Does she know what her husband is doing? Will she be able to protect her own children? Karolina Gorczyca is another great female creation in “Angel of Death”. – Seemingly strong and independent, in the most intimate matters of life she turns out to be as helpless and lost as everyone else.

Angel of Death Polish series

“Angel of Death” – On the trail of a psychopathic mind

The series “Angel of Death” is a classic example of the destruction of the criminological pattern, involving the unraveling of the mystery at the very beginning of the production. The procedure, which has become a peculiar feature of postmodern prose and film, establishes a specific perspective of the entire narrative. Namely, we no longer ask about the methods of learning about the world, but about what this world is like and confront it with our own. “Angel of Death” tells the story of the space of a psychopathic mind, which functions within its own, completely separate from universally accepted categories. Its markers are a restrictive, guilt-ridden upbringing, distorted religious symbolism and a complete lack of empathy. The problem is that this insane and deadly world is indistinguishable to the naked eye from what we consider normal. This is because it puts on a clever mask that, like the Polish title “rime” (“szadź”), covers and, above all, hides its true face.