Fresh from Norway, Occupied (Okkupert) is a tense drama that takes place in the “near future.” The story is inspired by climate change, the goal of energy independence on a national scale and the competing interests of fossil fuel-dependent nations reluctant to change. If that sounds like a snoozer of a plot for a foreign thriller, think again. The Occupied TV series mixes in assassination attempts, conspiracy theories, international incidents and personal dilemmas, resulting in a crisp, dark, suspenseful TV show.
It’s not a spoiler to say the first episode essentially starts with Russia making a bold play to take over Norway’s oil production, which the government had shut down in an effort to rapidly move toward sustainable energy production based on thorium, a naturally occurring radioactive element. The question is whether this takeover is a temporary, cooperative effort on the part of Russia as stated or if a true occupation is underway. (Of course, we already know the answer.)
The episodes progress like some police procedurals; more dialogue than action, but at a fast enough pace to keep Occupied from feeling bogged down. There is constant conflict between the media and the government, within the government and within individuals. The dark mood of the series is reflected in the visual character of the scenes, dark blues, grays and black, the colors of the ocean, occasionally contrasted against white or the deep greens of Norway’s forests.
Central characters include a presidential bodyguard, a male journalist and his restaurant-owning wife, the prime minister and an extensive supporting cast. The actors playing these roles are mostly not familiar to American audiences, but viewers may know of Jo Nesbø. The author of a successful line of crime novels originated the concept for Occupied. It was further developed by Erik Skjoldbjærg and Karianne Lund and directed by Skjoldbjærg. The production company is Yellow Bird, known for the Wallender series, Annika Bengtzon and the European version of the Millennium Trilogy (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
There is a fair amount of complexity to the plot, but it all makes sense and is believable as long as you are on board with the initial premise. Even if you don’t think that the USA will soon be energy independent or leave NATO, the global instability and international tension portrayed is in keeping with today’s reality. In fact, it is real enough that the Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement complaining about the TV show.
The Occupied TV series first aired on Norway’s TV2, October, 2015. The ten episodes are now available on Netflix and – if you are a fan of nordic noir and political thrillers – should be at the top of your Netflix TV shows list.
Occupied TV Series Trailer
The trailer below is mostly in Norwegian, but it gives you a feel for the show.