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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Buckle up for Pray, Obey, Kill

Anton Berg and Martin Johnson in Pray, Obey, Kill
Anton Berg and Martin Johnson in Pray, Obey, Kill
Photo: HBO

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Monday, April 12. All times are Eastern. 


Top pick

Pray, Obey, Kill (HBO, 9 p.m. and 9:58 p.m., docuseries premiere, back-to-back episodes): This five-part, true-crime docuseries takes viewers all the way to the small and snowy village of Knutby, Sweden. The two-part premiere moves at a slow pace, as the series begins to unravel the crime from the night of January 10, 2004, when Alexandra Fossmo was found dead and her neighbor Daniel Linde was shot as well. Pray, Obey, Kill focuses on journalists Martin Johnson and Anton Berg’s investigation into Fossmo’s death and Linde’s shooting. The first episode is primarily a timeline reconstruction, re-creating the wintry night with the help of old photographs and footage, reenactments, interviews with police officers, and a fervent use of toy models of the town. It also features snippets of the journalists’ interview with pastor Helge Fossmo, Alexandra’s husband, who is now serving life imprisonment for instigating her murder. Pray, Obey, Kill requires patience, as it only begins to take shape toward the end of a long premiere. The series attempts to understand and untangle the tight-knit Pentecostal congregation of a community where abuse of power led to devastating losses. The drawn-out storytelling dulls the vitality of this real-life tragedy, but the case, which garnered international attention, and the bizarre town where it took place (at one point, a police officer dubs it as their version of Twin Peaks) is enough to keep viewer interest. [Saloni Gajjar]

Regular coverage

Wild cards

New Gods: Ne Zha Reborn (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., U.S. premiere): It’s worth giving this Chinese fantasy film (based loosely on the 16th-century novel Investiture Of The Gods) a look based on the evocative, steampunk-inspired animation alone.

Independent Lens: Down A Dark Stairwell (PBS, 10 p.m., premiere): As is often the case, PBS adds heft to a TV-lite Monday with a timely, complex documentary—this one on the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man by a Chinese American police officer.