Valkyrien, currently on Topic, is technically not a crime drama, but it does feature people doing illegal things, so we decided to review it. Ravn (Sven Nordin of Wisting) was a doctor at the local hospital, and his wife Vilma (Pia Halvorsen) was a researcher in the hospital lab. Vilma caught a terminal disease of unclear origin, and wanted to give herself an untested trial drug that she developed as a last-ditch effort to save herself. The hospital said no, so both she and Ravn quit, taking Vilma home to die. After Vilma’s funeral, Ravn hooked up with doomsday prepper and city worker Leif (Pål Sverre Hagen, an Edward Norton lookalike), who has the run of the entire Oslo subway system. Leif has tricked-out an old bomb shelter in the abandoned Valkyrien Square subway station to make it completely livable. Ravn has joined him, creating a makeshift lab in which he can continue Vilma’s research, looking for a cure for her deadly illness.
Meanwhile, Leif’s well-meaning but dim friend Teo, (Mikkel Bratt Silset) screws up a robbery by letting the exit door shut, trapping the robbers inside for the police to catch. Whoops! He runs, and is shot by the police before he gets away. Leif brings Teo to Ravn, asking him to patch Teo up. Ravn is vehemently against it, but does it anyway. Leif gets an idea-what if they set up a secret clinic and bring people who don’t want to use the National Health Service here for treatment? Again, Ravn is against it, but Leif guilts him into it. “Who would these people even be?” muses Ravn. Well, they are CEOs of major companies that don’t want their shareholders knowing they have cancer, or they are illegal immigrants, or drug users. Valkyrien is meant to be a commentary on people who fall through the cracks of Norway’s National Health System, but frankly, in the U.S., “falling through the cracks” is endemic to the private health system we use, so that moral tale felt sadly quaint to me.
Leif and Ravn seem like very different men on the surface. Under a pseudonym, Leif is a well-known conspiracy theorist with many followers. But in real life, he is a control freak with poor social skills. Although he can get his hands on anything, including expensive medical equipment, and he is very skilled with computers, Leif feels misunderstood and disrespected, coming off as both arrogant and a martyr. Deep inside, he has a heart and a conscience, but often has to be forced to use them. Ravn is similarly obsessive, to the degree that he ruins his relationship with his step daughter Siv (Ameli Isungset Agbota), and it becomes clear that he is using Leif, rather than having an actual friendship with him. Both men suffer from self-righteous tunnel vision. This may seem like they are unlikable, but they aren’t. And Teo is very sweet and helpful in the clinic. While he is extremely grateful to Leif and Ravn, his desire to see his pregnant wife will put them all in jeopardy, as the police are looking for him.
Our Take on Valkyrien
Valkyrien is great TV. Its high production value, stellar cast and excellent writing make for a rich, gripping drama. You know a show is good when it gets remade in other countries. Sky remade the series in the UK as Temple, starring Mark Strong. Even though it fell on deaf ears, I liked that they tackled the issue of the social safety net. And Leif’s manifestos on climate change were interesting and relevant, if a little paranoid and depressing. The character arcs were satisfying, and the ticking clock on the plot paid off. I’m assuming many of our followers saw Valkyrien when it premiered on Walter Presents years ago, but if you haven’t, it’s definitely one to watch.
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