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Imagine if Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Almost Human shacked up and had a baby. Still with us? Okay, now before the baby was born, imagine that Outlander entered into the sordid love with a reverse UNO card. Picturing the result of that strange threesome in your head? Good!
You now have a basic understanding of Beforeigners, a neo-noir science fiction series all the way from Norway. Now streaming on HBO and HBO Now, the show (created by Anne Bjørnstad and Eilif Skodvin) takes place in modern day Oslo, where expatriates from previous time periods begin showing up with no memory of how they time traveled in the first place.
These "Beforeigners" or "timeigrants" as they're dubbed, come from three distinct time periods: the Stone Age, the age of Vikings, and the late 19th century. With no way back home (time travel is only a one-way street... or so we're led to believe), timeigrants must adapt to life in the technologically-advanced in the 21st century. As the years pass, the temporally displaced refugees impact modern culture, but also face abuse from xenophobic "Nowaday People" or "timeists."
When a dead timeigrant washes ashore one morning, an investigation is opened by Lars Haaland (Nicolai Cleve Broch), a present day homicide cop with a drug problem and Alfhildr Enginsdottir (Krista Kosonen), the department's first Viking police officer. The pair start looking into the woman's death, only to stumble upon something much more sinister.
If you're not watching this Norse-produced television gem, here are 5 reasons why you should change that right away.
When you've got a nice, clean premise like Beforeigners does, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. The reverse Outlander idea of people mysteriously arriving from the past and forced to adapt to modern times is a prime vehicle through which to explore the theme of xenophobia in today's political landscape.
Add in a sprawing and gritty urban playground of felonious activities; haunted protagonists; and the arrival of a corpse that leads to the discovery of a wider conspiracy at the heart of your golden sci-fi concept, and you've got yourself a deliciously steaming mug of genre-blended goodness.
Thanks to the heavy lifting done by its strong central premise, the world of Beforeigners feels like an authentic, lived-in place. Jehovah's Vikings knock on your door to talk about the glory of Odin; a caveman uses his ruthless prehistoric skills to rise to the rank of feared crime boss; fiercely religious timeigrants from the 19th century become anti-technology terrorists; and individuals who feel like they were born in the wrong time can identify as "trans-temporal." These are just a few prime examples of how you perfectly explore and expand upon the base mythos you've set up for yourself.
THE FUNKY OPENING THEME SONG
That would be 1974's "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" performed by Bobby "Blue" Bland. The funky, groovy, and blues-y beat opens each episode, playing over a montage of what Oslo looks like as a melting pot of people from different time periods. The song's somewhat downbeat lyrics connote the cultural divide between "Nowaday People" and timeigrants. As the story unfolds, we learn that there are some present day folks who don't care much for the temporal visitors.
"Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" is a musical choice that perfectly echoes the show's overall theme of immigration-based phobias.
THE ICONIC FASHIONS
The clothing choices for Lars and Alfhildr don't deviate too much, which makes it easier for viewers to get a sense of who they are. Limited costume changes means that the audience becomes more and more comfortable with these people. Thanks to a blue overcoat sort of get-up with an upturned collar, Lars is very much the Norwegian equivalent of Rick Deckard. With her brown leather pants and black leather jacket, Alfhildr is like a Norse version of Jessica Jones.
Come on, who wouldn't want to see a replicant hunter team up with a Marvel superhero?
THE CHEMISTRY OF ITS TWO LEADS
The odd-couple pairing of a modern-day cop and an ancient Viking warrior is another genius notch in Beforeigners' belt. Still, that's only half the battle. The actors playing these roles need to wholly commit if the characters and situation around them are to be believable.
Luckily, Nicolai Cleve Broch and Krista Kosonen have no trouble finding some buzzworthy chemistry between Lars and Alfhildr. They begin at odds, but slowly begin to trust each other's instincts. By the end of Season 1, you want to see more of their unique dynamic.
As the maverick, Kosonen (who starred in Blade Runner 2049, by the way) is the obvious standout of the duo. She's an unpredictable fish out of water as she applies her Old World expertise to standard police work and flies in the face of the "timeists" who see her as a nothing more than an affirmative action-type addition to the police force.
She has one major scene that reframes everything we thought we knew about one of our main heroes. It's our "Is Rick Deckard actually a replicant?" moment. In other words, we demand a second season!