Info

Original Title: Grenseland
Country: Norway
Creator: Megan Gallagher
Release: 2017
Genre: Thriller
Language: Norwegian

IMDb

04.04.2020: This review was first published on 30.11.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.

Hello There! I’m dos Santos. Welcome to Ulven Reviews!

Borderliner, or Grenseland, is a Norwegian series created by Megan Gallagher. It tells the story of an off-work detective who drags himself back to work when a body is found in his home town.

Grenseland

Oslo Police Detective Nikolai (played by Tobias Santelmann) take some time off work and go to his hometown, that I assume it’s a municipality called Halden. The Norwegian town borders Sweden, thus the name of the series.

While in town, Nikolai stays at his younger brother, Lars (played by Benjamin Helstad), who is also a police officer. He’s a widower with a couple of kids, Milla (played by Thelma Farnes Ottersen) and Erik (played by Todd Bishop Monrad Vistven).

Lars wants to visit the city’s renewed Pub, owned by Josef (played Eivind Sander), a reformed criminal who inherited a fortune and is investing in their hometown. Nikolai stays home, taking care of his niece and nephew.

Tobias Santelmann as Nikolai in Borderliner aka Grenseland
Nikolai (Tobias Santelmann)

Very early in the following morning, Lars, still hangover from the night before, has to attend an apparent suicide scene. His brother decides to do the driving since the drunken man is in no condition.

As soon as Niko sees the hanging body, he can see it was not a suicide, but a homicide. So they call the National Criminal Investigation Service, who send detective Anniken (played by Ellen Dorrit Petersen) to work the case in partnership with Niko.

Not long after being assigned to the case, Niko finds out his brother might be involved in the crime, but instead of arresting him, he decides to help in a cover-up.


Borderliner has an intriguing enough story to make you want to watch to the end of the season. It has a lot of tense moments and surprising twists that keep you on the edge of your sit. It doesn’t apply to me, though, since I watch it on the bed, right before sleeping.

Naturally, our first thought is that the series is going to be a typical investigation mystery, in which the detectives have to find the killer. However, that expectation is proven wrong very early, completely changing the nature of the show.

The dynamic becomes Anniken trying to find the factual truth, while Niko, Lars, and others, trying to sabotage the investigation and make it look the crime was just a suicide.

Benjamin Helstad as Lars in Borderliner aka Grenseland
Lars (Benjamin Helstad)

I can’t remember any lighter or fun moment, the suspense and tension permeate the whole series. It’s a dark and melancholic show, like The Killing, our first-ever review in the channel, and I love the tone of both shows.

The first season didn’t have a conclusion for the story, leaving many loose ends. We can only assume that they were planning at least a second season, but after three years of the first one, the sequence was not confirmed so far. (Source)

I saw some criticism of the lack of resolution of the story in this first season, but I think it’s a dumb criticism. Since when a series has to be complete in the first season?! The first season of Narcos: Mexico, for example, ends in a cliffhanger, and that’s just one example.

Ellen Dorrit Petersen as Anniken in Borderliner aka Grenseland
Anniken (Ellen Dorrit Petersen)

Niko and Anniken are my favorite characters in the series. Niko is likable in general, it’s easy to have empathy for him. Anniken is smart and tenacious in her pursuit of the truth.

Among other characters, I like Josef, at least half of the time, someone who’s trying to prove his worth. Also, Kristoffer (played by Morten Svartveit) Niko’s boyfriend and seemingly the happiest part of his life.

An intriguing character is Eva (played by Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento) a Swedish lady, head of the drug traffic in the region. She uses the border town to transport her drugs from country to country. End up that her operations have something to do with the case in hand.

Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento as Eva in Borderliner aka Grenseland
Eva (Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento)

I was also intrigued by the actress’s appearance and name. Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento has a skin tone close to olive and dark brown hair, so she’s different than the Nordic stereotype. Her father is from Portugal and her mother from Cape Verde, both Portuguese-speaking countries and the last with a population of mostly mixed race. (Source)

Now, the character I didn’t like much was Lars. He’s too whiny and not the brightest, by quite a margin. We feel more for him for being Niko’s brother than for him as a person/character.

Eivind Sander as Josef in Borderliner aka Grenseland
Josef (Eivind Sander)

Regardless of how much I liked each character, the acting is pretty consistent throughout. Everyone are top-notch professionals, even though I can’t mention any remarkable, out of this world performance.

The soundtrack is amazing and absolutely perfect for the tone of the series. Slow tempo music, sometimes reflecting the tension present in the plot, there are moments it even transmits an eerie feel. The score is one of my favorite things in the show.

Talking about favoritisms. The cinematography is so stunning, and much of it thanks to the beautiful location surrounded by nature. The sunlight going through the threes of gelid woods makes even a murder scene look appealing.


This first season of Borderliner is a very satisfactory piece of work. Unfortunately, the whole thing is still an unfinished work with no conclusion in sight, since we have no information whatsoever about the second season.

After watching the season finale, I wasn’t so excited for a second season, a break of the show could do me good. However, 2019 went by, and nothing about the second season. After all this time, I began to miss the series and be curious about its conclusion.

Borderliner is a compelling thriller, with a fascinating technical quality in every aspect of it, and now, after one and a half years, I like the series more than I initially thought. So, I’ll give the Season 1 of Borderliner 8 Moons.

That’s it for now. Don’t forget that telling the truth is better than juggle a fucked up lie that will eventually be discovered. Bye!

Borderliner aka Grenseland

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