I was blown away by OCCUPIED (available on Netflix), a Norwegian TV series (created by bestselling author Jo Nesbø) about a Russian “silk glove” invasion of Norway. As a political, spy, and police thriller, it’s hands-down one of the best things I’ve seen on a small screen. Just finished the second season, which is as good as the first, with enough twists and ratcheting tension to satisfy any thriller fan, and with enough smarts to satisfy those who prefer TV written for thinking adults.
At the end of the first season, Jesper Berg, the prime minister, joins the resistance as open warfare erupts between the country and Russia. The second season opens with the prime minister in exile after eight months of guerilla warfare produced an uneasy cease fire. The new prime minister hates his no-win job and resigns, creating an opportunity for Berg to come back. His assistant Anita, however, makes a pitch to parliament for a new government that results in her becoming prime minister. Anita must now navigate Russian influence and maintain the peace, while Berg must keep the heat on and disrupt that peace to get the Russians out and him back in power.
The result is a powerful political thriller with realistic characters in realistic conflict, motivations and actions that are rarely morally clear, and extremely smart machinations and twists that keep you guessing and surprised. I loved it, and I’m hoping a third season gets made.