A dead boy, a missing girl, two mismatched cops… it sounds like your standard Nordic noir set-up. But if you think you’ve seen it all before, new Scandi crime series Monster will surprise even the most thorough devotee of northern European TV.
The murders are pretty shocking
Think the twisted killings in The Bridge are the height of disturbing? Then prepare for one of the most stomach-turning scenes in noir history. “Bloody hell,” remarks a cop on the scene. That doesn’t even begin to cover it. And it’s just the start, as the bodies pile up in the small (fictional) northern Norwegian town of Nemesoara.
The cops couldn’t be less suited to each other
In theory, recently returned local policewoman Hedda Hersough (Ingvild Holthe Bygdnes) is in charge of the investigation. But her offsider, Joel Dreyer (Jakob Oftebro), an investigator from down south, isn’t exactly great at following orders and makes no secret of the fact that he considers Hedda little more than a chauffeur to transport him around town. He also doesn’t play by the rules, while she’s a by-the-book kind of officer.
The past plays into what’s happening in the present
Nemesoara seems to be one of those tiny towns with a disproportionately high missing persons and murder rate. As Hedda and Joel investigate the stabbing of local youth Abel (Victor Johansen) and the disappearance of his girlfriend, Tyra (Victoria Skjortnes), it quickly becomes apparent these cases tie into a history of violent crime in the area. Hedda also has some baggage of her own, having left a life in Oslo to come back home – but why is she really here?
It’s a slow burn, but when things happen, they really kick off
Developments in the case are broken up by sweeping landscape shots, a bubbling under storyline about a local crime family and, at one point, a fat lady literally singing, so if you like your TV action to come thick and fast, you might have to learn some patience. But the action does come, with a thrilling, rain-soaked confrontation at a motel in the final moments of Monster’s first episode. Just try not to immediately move straight on to the second episode.
Binge the first season of Monster at SBS On Demand.