Drone engineer Victoria Rahbek, fresh off a successful presentation at a trade event, has returned home to Copenhagen where she is taken hostage in her own apartment. It's an action with ties to a terrorist group involved with the theft of two warheads.
Greyzone represents the latest entry in the new wave of Danish dramas that are breaking away from the Scandi-Noir genre that shows from the region are so well known for. Gone is the moody atmospherics and in its place is a suspenseful drama that repositions the layered character drama Scandi TV is known for into a tightly controlled high octane thriller.
Entering the zone
With the first episode, viewers are immediately plunged into the world of Greyzone. Agent Eva Forsberg with the Säpo (Swedish Security Service) is looking for a truck which she finds at a shipping yard. In investigating the vehicle, she discovers that it is secretly carrying a warhead in a hidden compartment. The warhead is one of two stolen, with the second believed to be en route to rebels in the Ukraine.
Meanwhile drone engineer Victoria Rahbek is speaking at an industry conference where she meets a man who claims to be an old acquaintance. He's a reporter who would like to interview her, but little does she realise what his true intentions are. While at the conference, she is invited to a private meeting with the head of ZUW, a government contractor who have an interest in using drones for military applications. Victoria and her partner are offered the opportunity to sell a controlling interest in their company to ZUW, which Victoria finds appealing as the cash injection into the company can help with her desire to develop drones that can assist in agriculture and medical distribution.
Is the interest in her company by ZUW tied with the terrorist activity Forsberg is investigating? And what benefit is there in kidnapping Rahbek?
A pitch perfect cast
Starring in the series is the charismatic Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, best known for her work on Borgen, but also seen in Game of Thrones and Pitch Perfect 2. Sørensen stars as Victoria Rahbek, the single mother at the centre of the series who is unwittingly propelled into a world of international terrorism.
Speaking to Drama Quarterly, Sørensen remarked that "If I compare Greyzone with some of the work I’ve done abroad, the experience of being on set is very Scandinavian, very homelike to me. We have a very familiar, equal way of producing in Denmark. The actors are invited to really take part – not in writing the script, but our thoughts on the characters are welcomed. That creates a greater sense of ownership for the actors and I think that’s why what we are often appraised for in Scandinavia is that the characters feel really real. When I see some of the material we’ve done [on Greyzone], I think it looks international. It has that feel, so in a way we fit nicely into the line of Nordic noir, but this is something else as well. It’s just raising the bar a little bit."
Joining Sørensen in the series is Tova Magnusson, who SBS audiences may remember from the second season of The Bridge. Magnusson is fantastic in this as the steely Säpo agent charged with uncovering the terrorist plot. Her partner in the series is played by Ride Upon The Storm's Joachim Fjelstrup. Another face familiar to SBS viewers is Johan Rabaeus, fresh off season 2 of Modus.
If it reminds you of The Bridge, that's not a coincidence
It might be a superficial comparison, but watching a show with characters working together from Denmark and Sweden is highly reminiscent of watching The Bridge.
Series showrunner Rasmus Thorsen admits that The Bridge did have an impact on Greyzone: "The project was born as a true collaboration between Swedish and Danish creative forces and we found it very easy to keep it organic. We never looked at this from a structural point of view, to get a 50/50 collaboration. But The Bridge did show us that the audience is open to a bilingual-language show. It broke the ice in a way.
The first season of Greyzone is streaming now at SBS On Demand: