THE THAW on HBO Max is a new crime series from Poland (org. title Odwilz). As with all Polish productions, the quality is very impressive and features a story with a few surprises along the way. The series has six episodes. Read our full The Thaw series review here!
THE THAW is a new HBO Max series from Poland. Officially listed as “drama” on IMDb, this is very much a crime and thriller series. The production quality is impeccable, as we’ve come to expect from Polish productions made from international releases. Whether it’s on Netflix, HBO, or in movie theaters, you should be impressed by how gorgeous both the audio and visual sides of these productions are.
We’ve also become accustomed to these Polish productions having a few more twists and turns. This means you can never really be sure who’s “good” and who’s “bad”. Or rather, you should expect most characters to have a little bit of both. Just like in most South Korean genre productions. It always makes for a much more engaging story that keeps you guessing.
Continue reading our The Thaw series review below. We’ve watched all six episodes in the series for this review.
A slow-burn series that works
I was hooked from episode 1 of The Thaw, but I still ended up with the feeling that this could have been a series in five episodes instead of six. It’s not that an entire episode is irrelevant. Instead, it’s just the overall feeling that the storyline could have been a bit tighter in some places.
Also, the final pieces of the puzzle won’t be revealed until the very end. As I said, it does keep you guessing. And sure, there are a few hints in the wrong direction. Nothing in the hardcore “red herring”-department though. That’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine.
I don’t like it when the story directly tells me one thing. Then later changes this premise and goes “Ha! Got ya, didn’t I?!”. Because no, you didn’t “trick me”, you just flat-out lied which is something else entirely. In any case, The Thaw doesn’t do anything like that. It’s just that most people have their own secrets and demons, which a revealed as the story progresses.
Katarzyna Wajda is a strong lead
The absolute star of the HBO Max series The Thaw is Katarzyna Wajda as the police detective Zawieja. Her full name is Katarzyna Zawieja, but – as it’s usually the case with police officers – we only really hear her called by her last name Zawieja. Katarzyna Wajda (Wycieczka) is very strong in the lead role and really makes everything come together in this plot.
Other key characters are played by actors, you might recognize if you’ve watched some of the internationally released Polish productions from recent years. Bartlomiej Kotschedoff was in the awesome Netflix horror slasher Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight (2020) and Monika Krzywkowska from All My Friend are Dead (2020) which was also released on Netflix.
Also, I want to mention that even the opening credits are really gorgeous. Complete with the Billie Eilish song “When The Party’s Over” which really works perfectly to set the tone of The Thaw.
Watch The Thaw on HBO Max
The Thaw was written by Marta Szymanek, who also worked on the HBO series Wataha. The director is Xawery Zulawski who already directed on more than a handful of series prior to working on this one.
While I did feel that The Thaw was maybe a bit too slow at times, I also enjoyed the slow burn. Especially since it allows us to focus on the characters. Most of whom are dealing with various traumas. Having said that, I also have to mention that suicide is quite a big part of this story in a few different ways. It’s not the core element of the story, but it does come up several times.
If you like a good crime series that is both character-driven and with a focus on some dark elements as well as thriller-driven at times, then The Thaw is definitely worth checking out.
The Thaw (org. title Odwilz) premieres with two episodes on HBO Max on April 1, 2022.
Director: Xawery Żuławski
Writer: Marta Szymanek
Stars: Malgorzata Gorol, Sebastian Fabijanski, Boguslaw Linda, Bartlomiej Kotschedoff, Monika Krzywkowska
The show starts with the body of a young woman being found in the icy waters of the Oder River. Newly-widowed Detective Katarzyna Zawieja (Katarzyna Wajda) leads the investigation to track down the killer and when it becomes evident that the victim gave birth shortly before her death, Zawieja, a young officer who never gives up easily, goes on a search for the missing newborn.