Recoil is a Norwegian series on Walter Presents about a drug deal gone wrong, but from a unique point of view. When a gang of Oslo criminals were raided during a major drug deal, they suspect the cops took both the money and stashed it. Meanwhile, the gang is on the hook with a dangerous syndicate for the money. So, they set out to prove the cops are corrupt and get their money back. It sounds far-fetched, but it is loosely based on two actual Norwegian cases: The 2004 NOKAS robbery and the 2013 Cappelen police corruption scandal.

Caught in a bind

Recoil opens with a flashback of the raid. Marius Wold (Fredrik Scogsrud) has brought little brother Robin (Odin Waage) along to drive the getaway car. It becomes obvious that the cops knew about the drug deal as they descend upon the gang. Marius gets killed in the chaos. We cut to Robin Wold getting out of jail 6 years later. Before he leaves, gang leader Peter Lundquist (Duc Paul Mai-The), whose prison sentence is much longer, tells him he has to help the remaining gang members find the money and pay off the syndicate. “I was just a driver!” Robin protests. Peter tells him Vera (Silje Torp) will be in touch.

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The Gang in Recoil

Robin has other plans. He has been studying law and wants to work for his dad, who is a partner in a law firm. His dad gets him a job alright, as a janitorial assistant. Meanwhile, Vera does contact Robin, who says he’s not interested. Vera is the de facto leader while Peter, her lover, is in prison. She is working hard to get that money so she can buy a house and get her daughter out of foster care. Dan (Jesper Malm) is a recovering junkie who works with her. Erica (Inga Ibsdotter Lilleaas) was Marius’ girlfriend, and she is a computer hacker. She is working with the gang on principle, to avenge Marius’ death. Eventually, Robin joins them.

The Cops in Recoil

After the raid, the money and drugs disappeared, so the gang assumes the cops have them both. In their research, they’ve put together that young cop Tom Carlson (Kyrre Hellum), who we see in the flashback, was promoted after the raid, so they assume he is corrupt. Tom’s boss is Rolf (Gard B. Eidsvold), who we also saw at the raid. The prosecutor who works with Tom and Rolf is Kris Heltberg (Petronella Barker), who regularly plays her part with warrants and paperwork to cover for Rolf’s not-quite-by-the-book operations to “clean up Oslo”. After she takes the fall for one of these operations, she becomes ripe for recruting by the gang.

Whose Side Are You On?

Assuming Tom has the money, the gang does a full court press on his character, uncovering shady dealings, reporting him to the press and to Internal Affairs. Meanwhile the cops push back, surveilling the gang and putting pressure on them to trip them up. Each side tries to recruit a mole from the other. Robin is caught in the middle, wanting to live a straight life, but also yearning for revenge for Marius’ death. “Whose side are you on?” Erica asks him.  Are there sides? Or is everyone capable of bad deeds if the circumstances push them too far? This is the central issue of Recoil.

Our Take

Recoil utilizes an interesting premise, positioning the criminals as quasi-heroes, fighting against a corrupt justice system. But things could be clearer. For instance, how is this gang not in jail? Also, Peter gives Vera money to cover expenses for their operation. Where is this money coming from? The gang seems to have good luck finding out about Tom and Rolf’s below-the-radar operations-how is that? Also, what is the plan once they prove Tom is corrupt? Blackmail him? We’re never quite sure. Meanwhile, it seems that Rolf and Tom are afraid of Peter and what he knows. I think Recoil’s creators forfeited some clarity in order to sustain the mystery until the end. But that means we have to suspend disbelief and scratch our heads throughout the 8 episodes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m engaged, and I want to see how it ends, but I wish we had gotten some more backstory before we take these characters and their mission at face value.

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