Based on an original idea by Jo Nesbø, OCCUPIED is a nail-biting political thriller about a Russian occupation of Norway after the country announces it will shut down oil production due to the climate crisis. I just finished the third and final season of the Netflix series, and while it’s the weakest of the three seasons, it delivers a taut, suspenseful story I thoroughly enjoyed and brings the overall story to a strong conclusion.
In the first season, Russia enacts a “silk glove” occupation of Norway, ruling through threats of force, while Norway stands alone without support from the US (which has achieved energy independence) or the European Union (which wants the oil to keep flowing). This story is told through a broad cast, including the prime minister, Russian ambassador, a security officer and his wife who is a judge, and others. At the beginning of season 3, Jesper Berg, the prime minister, who went into hiding, is back in charge with a peace treaty forcing the Russians to leave, though with a whole new set of problems. The European Union is now occupying the country until the oil gets flowing again, the Russians are still working to pull the strings behind the scenes, and angry Norwegians, some of whom fought in the resistance, now want all Russians who emigrated to Norway to leave, and to punish collaborators.
The third season focuses mostly on Jesper Berg as he tries to navigate these problems, while rediscovering his original commitment to not only converting to renewable energy but becoming Europe’s leading exporter of it. In his story line, he tries to achieve his grand goals for the world and for Norway, though the price will be every last shred of morality he has left. In the end, he will discover another, more direct way he can make a difference. Meanwhile, the other characters from season 2 suffer their own trials, mostly involving the Russians using blackmail to influence European elections and try to get their thumb on Norway. All of these story lines end more or less tragically as each character must pay the price for their commitments, with a bundle of loose threads, suggesting the story will continue without us. Overall, the major story arc completes in a satisfactory way, and I don’t think the show needed a fourth season, as at times in season 3 it felt like they were stretching it.
I absolutely loved this show, which starts with an engaging premise and then delivers a nail-biting roller coaster ride.