Borderliner Season 1 (2017) – Series Review

Info

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

IMDb

Nikolai is a Detective taking a break of work near the border with Sweden, but find himself in the middle of another case, involving drugs, murder, and corruption.

Introduksjon

First review of a Series in a long time and this time is a Norwegian one.

Before the actual review, let’s briefly talk about some of the personalities involved in this series. Just some little quick facts.

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

In “Borderliner”, Josef is a rich entrepreneur with political ambitions, he’s also the owner of the town’s pub and has a history with the protagonist’s family.

Eivind Sander is the actor who portrays Josef, who became an important character in the story. However, I was surprised to see that the actor’s appearance was very different from the one we see in “Borderliner”.

Eivind Sander in Hodejegerne (2011)

The series is set in Halden, a municipality south of Oslo and a crossing the border between Norway and Sweden. The border is a central element of the plot, because of the drug trafficking between the countries.

Talking about Norway-Sweden border and drug dealing, the Swedish actress Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento gives life to the head of the drug dealing operations, Eva.

Ana Gil de Melo Nascimento has a curious name for a Swedish person, a very lusophone name, I could say.

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

That exactly the case. Her father is from Portugal and her mother from Cape Verde, both Portuguese-speaking countries. She is also the less Scandinavian-looking person I can recall in the series. (Source)

The last bit of this introduction is about the protagonist being gay, although I will talk more about it later.

I saw people complaining about having a gay couple in the series, but guess what?! Gay people exist! Is not a “political correct conspiracy”, it’s not being “Social Justice Warrior”, it’s just how reality works, some individuals are homosexual.

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

I’m not saying it exclusively to this series or this community. Black people exist, LGBT people exist, disabled people exist, and so on, and their existence doesn’t even harm you, so stop crying and complaining about it.

Grenseland

The police detective Nikolai (Tobias Santelmann) take some time off work and go to his hometown, Halden. Although it’s never clearly said in the series that it’s set in Halden and its surroundings, I would be surprised if it wasn’t the case.

Lars (Benjamin Helstad), is Nikolai’s younger brother, he is a widow with two kids and a police officer like his brother and their father, Hans Olav (Bjørn Skagestad), the former Sheriff.

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

The first night of our protagonist, after arriving in the town, he stays babysitting his nephews, to allow Lars to go to the renewed Pub, owned by Josef (Eivind Sander), a reformed criminal who inherited a fortune and is investing in the city.

Early in the morning, Lars has to attend a possible suicide scene and Nikolai goes along to drive the brother with a hangover from the night of heavy drinking.

The dead one is Tommy Hagen (Kim-Henning Nilsen), hanged. Nikolai looks at the corpse and observes that it was not a suicide, but a homicide, so they call theNational Criminal Investigation Service to conduct the case.

The detective sent is Anniken (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), and she informs Nikolai that he is assuming the case alongside her.

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

However, soon we learn that this case will not be the usual homicide investigation, a “whodunit” mystery, because Nikolai uncovers that Lars is involved, and instead of arresting the brother, he decides to help in a cover-up.

Well, I think I said enough. I said more than I’m usually comfortable with, but if I said less than that, it could misleading to think it’s a “murder-solving” series when it’s not at all.

It’s not exactly a spoiler, but I have to mention that the series does not end with this season and the last episode of the season doesn’t have a resolution of all the set-up situations.

Eivind Sander as Josef in Borderliner aka Grenseland

I saw some criticism for this lack of resolution, but I think it’s a dumb criticism. Since when a series has to have a complete resolution in the first season? I watched the first season of “Narcos: Mexico” last week, and it ends with a cliffhanger, and that’s just one example.

I’m under the impression that this is the worst criticism from the general public is this one with the season ending and that is something I have no problem with, however, I’m not exactly excited to watch a possible second season.

The series is competent in almost every aspect, especially in creating the cold (literally and figuratively) atmosphere. I could also say I like the cinematography, but I’m always saying that, in every review, so…

I can’t say I liked some character in especial, they’re all equally average, some with more importance than others. For example, Anniken’s perseverance in pursuing the truth, but that doesn’t make her character much better.

Ellen Dorrit Petersen as Anniken in Borderliner aka Grenseland

Another interesting aspect is how Niko’s homosexuality is somewhat important for the plot but is not actually a big deal for the other characters. Niko is involved in the murder investigation of his boyfriend’s (Morten Svartveit) sister, so the importance is more about who the boyfriend is than his gender.

I know that nowhere is completely perfect for the LGBT community, but Norway is more advanced than most countries in this regard, and that’s something shown in this situation of the series.

Just like the case with Anniken, the “wokeness” – to use a trendy term – is not enough to make the characters any better.

Thisaverageness manifest itself in almost everything in “Borderliner”. Everything is competent, well executed and got me interested until the last episode of the season, however, nothing stands out for me.

Marina Popovic as Janne in Borderliner aka Grenseland
Janne (Marina Popovic)

Nothing in the series inspired any feeling or intrigued me enough and that’s why I’m not excited about a second season, even though I will probably watch it once it’s released.

For now, there isn’t any confirmation about the second season in development, but the story is clearly not finished. I think there is a possibility of a second season not happening, even with an unfinished show, but the given the relative success of the series, it would be as a surprise. (Source)

Borderliner aka Grenseland

In the end, “Borderliner” was a time well spent. I like it more than I have problems with and even though I wasn’t rating the movies and series anymore, I would give it 7.

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