The River TV series on Walter Presents rewards viewers with a complex, layered mystery, slowly unraveled across time and place. As with many Nordic Noir series, the natural landscape plays a prominent role as do realistic characters drawn from everyday life. These contrast with horrific, unusual crimes. It’s fascinating viewing, but the glacial pace will leave fans of action, sex, and violence impatient and shortchanged.

The River (Elven in Norwegian) starts as a standard serial killer show, but evolves into something much different.

The River TV series elven holt

Holt and Lønnhøiden

Thomas Lønnhøiden (Espen Reboli Bjerke) works as a cop on a small police force in the small town of Djupelv not far from the Russian border. He investigates an obvious murder after a young girl finds severed limbs in the river that runs through town. Traumatized, the girl runs away from home. During the search for her, Lønnhøiden crosses on to military property, but soldiers prevent him from looking further. He senses something isn’t right, with good reason it turns out.

Mia Holt (Ingeborg Raustøl) leads a platoon in the Norwegian army, but discovers there are secrets she is not privy to. Growing more frustrated, both she and Lønnhøiden start to chip away at a conspiracy that’s been going on for years. It leads to unexpected places. Lønnhøiden eventually digs into his own family history, confronting his past, while Holt decides whether to follow army guidelines or her own sense of what’s right and wrong.

Grace (Ánne Mággá Wigelius), the mother of the missing girl faces her own choices. It’s clear she’s troubled by more than the disappearance of her daughter. Her situation and dilemma connect to the main story thread, of course, but we don’t know how.

The River frequently shows us the iced-over water feature the show is named for, but occasionally cuts to fast rushing water splashing over rocks where the freeze has broken. The series moves at the same pace, slow and methodical with a cool, tense atmosphere, surprising us now and then with an unexpected twist or burst of action.

The River TV series was created by Arne Berggren, who directed show along with Maggi Bergheim. All eight episodes, which aired on Norway’s TV3 in 2017, are now on Walter Presents. Despite a couple of not quite plausible scenes, the story feels authentic. It’s worth noting that The River is inspired by historic events. And, once again, Norway delivers a TV series involving Russia that matches the political reality of current events.

‘The River’ TV series trailer

In Norwegian, but you get the gist.