“Will they or won’t they?” It’s the question at the heart of any number of classic television series. Will they kiss? Will the kiss mean anything? Will they take it any further? Will they figure out how to make it work?
Norwegian legal drama Aber Bergen takes things a little differently. Erik Aber (Odd-Magnus Williamson) and Elea Bergen (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) are a perfect match for on-screen passion – he’s fire, she’s ice. But as last year’s first season revealed, their story begins when, after years of marriage and setting up a firm together, it’s all fallen apart and he’s living in a hotel. The big question between the leads is still “will they or won’t they” – only it’s not will they kiss, but will they get a divorce.
Erik’s an Oslo native who moved to the mountain city of Bergen (Norway’s second largest city) to be with the woman he loved. His career took a hit – his extreme antics worked in the big city; here they just make him stand out – but he’s a passionate man, and throughout the first season we could see him working hard to save what was left of his relationship.
Elea was the one who threw him out, and it wasn’t all that difficult to see why – she’s steady in the courtroom and a steady hand back in the office. While having someone like Erik in her life might make sense in an “opposites attract” way, their working methods are so different it’s a wonder the firm survived this long. Still, it’s lucky for the rest of their staff she’s around – she’s the only one who can put a lid on Erik’s excesses.
Over the course of the first season, we saw the tension between them begin to thaw. Still together at work – neither of them wanted to tear down the practice they’d both worked so hard to build up – and with their increasingly troubled son keeping them in contact outside office hours, it soon became clear neither partner was fully committed to ending their relationship. Not that they had much time to make up their minds. In between tackling various cases of the week, Erik was busy defending his best friend on murder charges – charges that, in the usual Scandinavian way, soon revealed links to shady dealings – while the firm itself was under siege from an ongoing tax audit.
You wouldn’t think all this pressure would be great for a couple on the rocks, but instead of pulling them apart, it pushed them together. The first season ended with Erik and Elea back on good terms, and season two opens with them seemingly back together and trying to make it work. The important word there is "trying". Giving it another go might seem like a good idea, but these are two very different people and the old magic isn’t going to come back just by hanging out on the couch after work.
At first it seems like this season is going to be all about the cases. There’s no shortage of drama there, what with sinister goings-on down at the docks that involve dead bodies and people smuggling. Worse, last season’s MVP, charismatic blind lawyer Magnus Braseth (Torgny Gerhard Aanderaa), is now working for their chief rival, which just happens to be the firm run by Elea’s creepy father, Carl (Lasse Lindtner). Meanwhile, Magnus’ replacement, Danish ex-pat Nikolay Walleěn (Morten Holst), isn’t exactly popular around the office – he was only hired by Erik after he hit the cycling Dane with his car door.
But right from the start, it’s clear Erik and Elea still have some deep fault lines running underneath their surface happiness. An early counselling session reveals it’s not all smooth sailing even after a year back together, but the real trouble begins when Elea enters into a bet with her creepy dad. Whichever law firm fails to score a big contract – one Aber Bergen needs if it’s to avoid bankruptcy – will allow itself to be taken over by the other. Aber Bergen has an edge, in that the sleazy head of the company they’re trying to woo has already tried to woo Elea. But how far will she go to win? And is Erik the kind of man to just let this sort of thing slide, even if acting badly could once again end his relationship?
Spoiler alert: no, he is not.
Stream the first two seasons of Aber Bergen now at SBS On Demand: