Occupied (Norwegian: Okkupert) is a Norwegian political thriller whuch depicts a fictional near future in which Russia, with support from the European Union, occupies Norway to restore its oil and gas production, in response to a Europe-wide energy crisis. Due to catastrophic environmental events, Norway’s Prime Minister has stopped the country’s oil and gas production. The premise is that the United States has withdrawn from the NATO, the Middle-East is in turmoil and hence the EU is unable to gain oil & gas from the region and an energy crisis currently exists in the European Union.
Norway, due to large-scale environmental devastation caused by climate change, votes in a Green Party candidate – Jasper Berg as the Prime Minister who has shut the oil and gas installations in Norway and has also stopped supplying the same to the EU. This has escalated the energy crisis within the Union. With a goal to develop clean energy through a Thorium based nuclear power plant, Berg completely ends Norway’s exports of oil and natural crisis. This results in the European Union asking Russia’s assistance to take over control of Norway and restart the oil and gas production. The entire plot of the show then follows the gradual occupation of Norway, the military and social resistance movements in Norway and introduces other characters like Hans Martin Djupvik (ex-bodyguard for PM Berg and later Director of PST), Bente Norum (owner of a restaurant frequented by Russians and wife of murdered journalist Thomas Eriksen) and Irina Sidorova (Russian Ambassador to Norway).
The show does delve into a whole different genre with climate change acting as the motivator behind the energy crisis and Norway’s subsequent occupation. It also plays out how things could look within the European Union, if the United States withdraws from the NATO (a very real scenario especially if Donald Trump comes to power for a second term). It shows the fictional occupation of an European member state by Russia – something scaring Europe especially after the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territories and its forays into international waters near sovereign borders of EU nations.
Where the show loses its way is the lack of character development – almost all the characters on the show are dull and uninspiring. Jasper Berg’s idealism overshadows everything and Djupvik doesn’t really engage the audiences as an unwilling hero. The resistance against Russian armed forces is characterized by a few bombings and kidnappings and there is a whole war fought between the Russians and Norwegians off the screen, which for a show claiming to be the most expensive Norwegian production till date, is quite boring especially since throughout most of the show we have to endure dull characters constantly talking up big things but never delivering.
The European Union is shown to be completely in the hands of the Russians, basically delivering a sovereign European nation into the laps of the Russians. This seems more and more likely as the European Union doesn’t really present any military challenge even in the current scenario, without the American military capabilities added to it. If we add, the United Kingdom, no longer participating within a Pan-European defense force, then the defense of Europe is in the hands of poorly trained conscripts, supplemented by few trained soldiers and under-equipped military capabilities facing against battle-hardened Russian soldiers.
There was a lot of backlash from Russia against the show depicting its actions in occupying Norway and the portrayal of Russians in the show itself. However, Russia can take solace in the fact that the show’s portrayal of events is hardly flattering even for the European Union or Norway itself. The bureaucratic cluster-fuck that takes place in Norway during the invasion and the occupation, is basically what would happen within the European Union (if the US leaving the NATO does become a reality). The European Union’s strategy of ignoring their armed forces and defenses while allowing the United States to bear the brunt of the cost of the policing of European borders against Russia, is highly flawed and under an incompetent leader like Trump, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. The show does show the lack of political will among Europeans regarding military resistance.
Occupied could have been a brilliant show had they actually made it a “political thriller” as they claim, instead of a “political snooze-fest”. Stronger, more rounded off characters would have helped engage audiences and action sequences especially during a so-called “resistance” would have helped make the show more entertaining. Because let’s face it, in a show depicting itself as a political thriller, where guns are so frequently utilized, most deaths are either blocked out and the action sequences are choreographed poorly.
The climate change triggered political crisis was an extremely interesting theme but it was not properly handled. Occupied does draw you in with the idea but makes you lose interest due to the way it is handled. Give it a watch on Netflix, if you’re looking for a different, albeit boring political “thriller”.
Watch if nothing else’s is on and if you don’t mind drawn out conversations.