The Critic: Start binge­ing on Netflix’s Nor­we­gian “cli-fi” se­ries Oc­cu­pied

House of Cards? Try Oc­cu­pied in­stead

Bloomberg Businessweek (Europe) - - NEWS - By Brad Wieners

To say that Netflix’s Oc­cu­pied, a 10-episode political thriller, is more binge­wor­thy than a pro­gram about chop­ping wood might be set­ting the bar aw­fully low. But Na­tional Fire­wood Night, a 12-hour doc­u­men­tary that tack­les whether to stack split logs with the bark fac­ing up or down, got bet­ter rat­ings in Nor­way, where both shows were first broad­cast. For­tu­nately for us, Oc­cu­pied trans­lates bet­ter over here.

Set in and around Oslo, Oc­cu­pied takes place in a near fu­ture in which Nor­way has ceased drilling for oil and gas to pre­vent more loss of life and dam­age from cli­mate change. There’s a pass­ing ref­er­ence to a cat­a­strophic hur­ri­cane that pre­cip­i­tated this eco-com­mit­ment, but that back­story i s mostly evoked in the open­ing credit mon­tage. Civil wars in the Middle East have choked off oil sup­plies, and the Euro­pean Union, thrust into a fuel cri­sis, backs a Rus­sian plan to take over Nor­way’s for­mer pe­tro­leum in­dus­try. Fif­teen min­utes into the pi­lot, Jes­per Berg, the Nor­we­gian prime min­is­ter, is taken hostage, and dur­ing a short he­li­copter ride he re­ceives an of­fer from Moscow he can’t refuse: Let us re­store North Sea oil pro­duc­tion to pre­vi­ous lev­els, and we’ll let you re­sume your al­ter­na­tive-en­ergy plans. Berg blinks.

If the premise seems a reach, Oc­cu­pied is so well-scripted and finely acted that it’s easy to sus­pend dis­be­lief. Our prin­ci­pals are Berg (Hen­rik Mes­tad); his body­guard, Hans Martin Djupvik (El­dar Skar); an en­ter­pris­ing jour­nal­ist, Thomas Erik­sen ( Ve­gar Hoel); and Wenche Ar­ne­sen (Ragn­hild Gud­brand­sen), the ter­mi­nally ill head of Nor­way’s ver­sion of the CIA. More far-fetched than the geopol­i­tics may be the de­gree to which the plot de­pends on Djupvik, who res­cues the prime min­is­ter, saves the Rus­sian am­bas­sador from as­sas­si­na­tion, and be­comes a dou­ble agent. And that’s all in the first three episodes.

Jo Nesbo, a mem­ber of the same class of Scan­di­na­vian noir writ­ers as Stieg Lars­son and Hen­ning Mankell, is cred­ited with the idea for Oc­cu­pied. You can think of the show as a lower-body-count 24 meets a higher-sub­ti­tle-count Man in the High Cas­tle, with el­e­ments of The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too.

It’s tempt­ing to place Oc­cu­pied within the grow­ing niche of “cli-fi,” or cli­mate fic­tion. Tho­rium power, Berg’s al­ter­na­tive-en­ergy so­lu­tion, is a real thing—aa form of nu­clear en­ergy that re­lies pri- mar­ily on thor­ite in­stead of en­riched ura­nium. (It’s safer, too; tho­rium re­ac­tors don’t melt down.) Yet with its porr trayal of an anti-Rus­sian re­sis­tance move­ment—Frit Norge—and, in par­tic­u­lar, a live-video as­sas­si­na­tion of a Rus­sian, Nesbo ap­pears more in­clined d to­ward an al­le­gory about Is­lamic State.e. Ap­pro­pri­at­ing its shock tac­tics, Oc­cu­pied seems on the verge of ask­ing dif­fi­cult ques­tions about when, or if, ter­ror­ism is jus­ti­fi­able as self-de­fense.

If Nesbo in­tends a deeper moral in­quiry, Oc­cu­pied doesn’t man­age it, but it does have charm. It’s eas­ily one of the best re­cent se­ries for ogling mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture. And the af­ter-hours di­ver­sion may well in­spire view­ers to lead crisper meet­ings. Th­ese Vik­ings get right to the point. Oc­cu­pied also af­firms that the cor­tado is the coffee bar or­der of the mo­ment on both sides of the At­lantic. You’ll need one, too, the morn­ing af­ter you’ve stayed up all night fin­ish­ing the se­ries. <BW>

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bahrain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.