Occupied is set in Norway in the not distant future. The main thrust of the story of this 10 episode series is that the Norwegians have elected an environmentalist who heads up the Green Party as the Prime Minster. This followed in the wake of a series of events:
1) Turmoil in the Middle East has compromised oil production.
2) The USA has achieved energy independence and has said adios to NATO.
3) A catastrophic Hurricane has devastated Norway.
4) Europe is in an energy crisis.
The newly elected Norwegian PM, Jesper Berg, has shut down all fossil fuel production. The country will no longer use oil as an energy source. Instead, thorium, a nuclear-based energy product will be used.
This sets off panic in the EU (European Union). And shortly after the opening ceremonies at Norway’s spanking brand new thorium plant, the Prime Minister is kidnapped and spirited away in a helicopter.
The PM’s bodyguard, Hans Martin Djupvik, chases the helicopter in a police car.
Okay, that is the bare bones opening. We will come to learn that the EU, in conjunction with the Russians, want the PM to capitulate and return to fossil fuel energy.
And to help him decide, the Russians promise a ‘soft’ occupation at least until the oil production is resumed, and if not, Norway will then face a full-scale invasion.
Berg, played by Henrik Mestad, as the Prime Minster is between a rock and hard-place. His country is on the wrong side of the EU, The US has withdrawn from NATO, and little Norway, with no support from former allies, would stand no chance against the superior Russian military if it came down to war.
I’ve completed all 10 episodes of this series which is screening on Netflix here in the USA, Australia, India, and Canada. The series has also been sold to the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. As expected, Russia was none too happy about this TV series.
But here’s the rub. This is not simply the good guys vs the bad guys. If anything, the Russian ambassador to Norway, Irina Sidorova (played by Ingeborga Dapkunaite) comes off as a rational, fair-minded, and nearly sympathetic figure.
The Norwegian PM is somewhat of a more complex figure. He is indeed a patriotic Norwegian, but his countrymen do not all see him that way. They think his capitulation to the Russian demands, is both disloyal, if not traitorous, as well as misguided.
So a resistance movement called Free Norway comes into play.
That is about all I will tell you about the plot and story line of the series. With almost all of the actors being mostly unknown to American audiences, it is easy to get into the story without the usual distraction that you might get with well-known actors.
Many of the supporting roles were performed brilliantly and serve to keep the story involving despite the often inherent lack of plausibility. Yes, you might say there are more than a handful of moments that stretched credulity, but it isn’t as overbearing as you might think.
These days in the real world climate change is certainly an important factor in our future, along with the usual politics as well as terrorism. So I think those of you who follow world news and opinions, will be more than pleased.
Watch for standout performances by the following characters (the actors will be named in parenthesis) all of who have key roles.
Wenche Arnessan (played by Ragnhild Gudbrandsen) as the Chief of the Norwegian Police Security Service – a cross between or own State Department and the CIA.
Thomas Erickson (played by Vegar Hoel) – a top-notch investigative reporter.
Bente Norum (played by Ane Dah Torp) – a restaurant owner, and Erickson’s wife, who’s dining place has become a favorite watering hole for the Russian Embassy senior staff.
Ingrid Bo (played by Veslemoy Morkrid) – A member of the Norwegian Police.
The stars are Henrik Mestad as the PM,
Eldar Skar as Djupvik. and Ingeborga Dapuknaite as the Russian ambassador. They are three main ‘planets’ around which the story orbits.
In my view, this was an exceptional series. Though at times the series is a bit talky – there is enough action to keep you both glued to your sofa, that is when you’re not at the edge of the sofa because of the often tense situations.
As I said, there are 10 one hour episodes. While set in Oslo, Norway and surrounding areas, Norwegian is the main language. However all communications between the Norwegians, the Russians, and other EU members are always in spoken English.
The cinematography is quite good and the English subtitles convey what you hear but don’t comprehend when either Russian or Norwegian is spoken.
As you know, I’ve watched plenty of Scandinavian TV series, and this is another that I recommend without reservation. Yellow Bird, the outfit that produced the Millennium Trilogy that began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is one of the producers along with TV2 Norge. For the record this is the most expensive TV production ever in Norway – and I am happy to tell you that this is a top-notch production by any standards.
Here is a trailer for the series. This specific trailer does not have English subtitles, but I assure you, this two-minute trailer will give you all you need to know to watch the series.