Beforeigners: Season 1
February 1, 2020 12:48 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

The series takes place in Oslo, where suddenly there are several flashes of light in the sea in Bjørvika. The flashes of light turn out to be a worldwide phenomenon where people from the past suddenly emerge in the present - people from the Stone Age, the Viking Age and the 19th century. Fast forward to five years later, and the so-called "beforeigners" are struggling to integrate into modern Norwegian society. (HBO Nordic)

A woman with Stone Age tattoos is found dead on a beach, and police investigator Lars Haaland is put in charge of the investigation. He is assigned the newly graduated police investigator Alfhildr Enginnsdóttir, formerly a shield-maiden in the 11th century, as his partner. She is the first in the police service with a "multi-temporal background".

Season trailer.
posted by dmit (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I really, really, really wanted to like this! The concept is so great! And the characters too! But I abandoned it halfway through because the story itself was a real letdown for me. Just another police procedural, it felt like.
posted by KTamas at 2:39 AM on February 1

I liked this show. Engaging characters and some funny jokes sprinkled in (the "what's gluten" gag made me laugh). While it was definitely a police procedural with just the backdrop of forced temporal immigration, I'm a sucker for detective shows so it worked for me.

It did seem rushed at the end and things weren't really tied up. But they are currently writing a season two, so I guess we'll see how it continues in two years I guess.
posted by xtine at 4:19 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

I'm watching this because I found out about it here!

So far protagonist dude is kind of bland, and I'm not loving the thing that Scandinavian procedurals do where the investigation is a series of red herrings with clues found in exactly the right order for the investigators to consider exactly one red herring at a time. It really messes with my ability to suspend disbelief and immerse myself in the story.

But I love the setting -- I'm a sucker for police procedurals or medical dramas or whatever set in an interesting SFF universe. I like SFF which is not about the SFF McGuffin. And I love Alfhildr. So I'm going to keep watching.
posted by confluency at 1:14 PM on February 4

I'm four episodes in now, and it looks like they're not really doing that red herring thing -- or at least it's not obvious. So I take that back. :)
posted by confluency at 3:07 AM on February 5

> confluency: "I'm watching this because I found out about it here!"

Same, only a couple episodes in, but I'm enjoying it. First Ragnarok and now this, maybe I should look up some more Norwegian TV to watch.
posted by zinon at 9:18 AM on February 5

I just finished it. I really liked it! I hope there's a second season. They certainly seemed to be setting one up.
posted by confluency at 1:01 PM on February 5

Definitely felt like it, but it's surprisingly hard to find information about the show online. I would never have even known it existed if it weren't for a stray mention by a stranger.

I was a little surprised to see people turned off by the procedural aspects of the show, but I guess it makes sense since it's a packed genre and seeing the same familiar tropes for the nth time gets real annoying. For me it wasn't even about the investigation that much - if the show was about Alfhildr, Urðr, and Lars sitting on a couch in a coffee shop and just talking about life, I'd watch that too. Especially if they're joined by all the other colorful personalities - imagine a Navn episode. Or one with Tommy. Or Lars's upstairs neighbor and his kid; I loved those two.
posted by dmit at 1:39 PM on February 5

Is this on Amazon? I can't find a place to watch online. :(
posted by Mr. Excellent at 6:37 PM on February 5

I enjoyed this enough to finish the season. I was hoping they would have gone in a slightly darker direction showing the implications of being suddenly transported hundreds or thousands of years.

I liked the partnership between Alfhildr and Lars. It doesn't fall into the obvious tropes of "romantic fighty thing" or "complete opposites." They work somewhat well together and give each other space to be separate people.

I totally called it on the timehole being two-directional.

Also, male full frontal nudity!

Can't wait for the second season.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:39 PM on March 1

I finally got around to catching this and I'm hooked from the start. Halfway through the pilot.

Love the concept and the costuming, how some beforeigners keep their traditions and how others adapt to modernity (and to what extent). Seeing temporally mixed costuming makes me happy.

Not used to watching subtitles, but interesting that they intersperse English language international news reporting with Norweigian and 'old Norse.'

Anyone have a feel for how accurate the old Norse and accents are? Educated guess or a farce?
posted by porpoise at 11:30 AM on March 14

Liked this a lot. The writing was tight, never felt bored, and the characters were mostly believable, sympathetic, and complex. (binged it on a "pretend everything is ok" day)

Also timefully funny. Surprisingly- and mostly kindheartedly- so.

I really liked Nabo and his kid, especially reuniting with the wife/ mother, and Nabo appreciating Lar's friendship and even though he was his dealer, was sympathetic to getting him clean even after Lar's junkied out on him.

My read is that Nabo was (a little) further downstream (more modern) from Navm but (much much) less exceptional?

Was surprised that there wasn't more exploration of Navm. Humans haven't really physically (including the brain) evolved all that much since then, it's been social evolution and persistence of knowledge that's driven human changes. Navm had to capacity to be just as intelligent as someone born today, but that his life experience was so much different.

His weaponizing his experiences and timeism against him to his benefit when dealing with moderns was great. Reminded me a lot of a friend who immigrated to Canada from Albania in his late teens and how his life experiences growing up in a warzone shaped his behaviour here - a very different ethical view around crime, but yet accepting the benefits of a society without too much physical conflict and the strength of laws (and how other people respect laws).

Navm's relationship with #CavemanWife and social media culture was interesting; I want to believe that it was meant that he was absolutely taking advantage of 'this strange thing that moderns do.'

The prehistory worldview/ experience influencing grammar seemed well done (subtitles only). If they had Nabo have a little bit of it but his kid speaking near perfect modern would have been a nicer touch though.

I could have done without the (fake) drug subplot, but it moves the plot along.

But the writers (mostly) went with "accept the premise, nobody in-world knows why/ how either" instead of half-assedly try to explain the phenomenon worked for me here, when I'm usually in the "Explain it!!!1!" camp.

Krista Kosonen had a strong role and leaned all the way into it.

Interesting commentary on Norway's history of conflict between paganism/ christianity.

Not sure about the twist(s!) all at the end, but I'd watch the heck out of a second season.
posted by porpoise at 6:53 PM on March 14

Re: accuracy of the language. I don't have any technical details, but at least some thought was put into it. Some of the beforeigners (including Urðr and Kalv, the vision that was helping Lars) were played by Icelanders, with Icelandic being the closest living language to Old Norse. This is also referenced in the pilot, where they initially brought in a person who knew a little Icelandic to translate because that's what it seemed the people fished out of the water were speaking.

And Kosonen of course is Finnish and had to learn Norwegian for the role, which helps her sound distinct from the modern-day people.
posted by dmit at 2:56 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Found some additional info in a rare English-language article about the show:
One of the biggest challenges must have been the different languages and use of old Norse. How much research was required and how did the actors train?

The universe is an allegory of the refugee crisis and migration issues. As a migrant, you have your own language and identity. We felt it was important for the Beforeigners to have their own language. We knew before casting that the language was important and that was a key element even in the casting process.

Old Norse is very well documented in the sagas, we know how the language was, but we do not know how it was pronounced. Therefore early on, I contacted researchers, professors who helped us. We also constructed the language that stone-age people spoke, and even with the language from the 19th century: We worked on it to make it sound right.

We also had a language coach to help actors on set. The full process was long. But then, people do spend time on costume and make-up. Why not invest in language, which is such a big part of a person’s identity?
posted by dmit at 3:00 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

I'm halfway through and really enjoying this! I'm not one for police procedurals, but this is pretty loose on all of that, and Hipaa? never heard of it....but the conceit is cool and I am enjoying the shield maidens and their relationship to Tore. I'm hoping they throw down on someone (Wenche preferably) before the end.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:16 PM on March 19

Just finished. I really enjoyed it.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:18 PM on March 28

I just finished watching it via HBO Now and I absolutely loved it! It reminded me - in a good way - of Alien Nation, another show I really liked, but with more heft to it.

If it gets another season - and I hope it does! - I'll be really interested in seeing where they go with the Heathen (aka Asatru or Forn Sed - it varies between regions) v. Christian story. Heathenry is a growing faith that has been given official recognition in several Scandinavian countries, among others, and I hope the show will try to offer a balanced view of both faiths and not focus primarily on the extremists that plague them.

The revelations in the final episode were great and have set up some nice mysteries and storylines for a second (or more) season. I'm especially interested to see where Alfhildr's story is going.
posted by Kriselda at 4:48 AM on May 2

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