TV review: Occupied

Clive Walder

‘Occupied’ is a ten-part Norwegian TV political thriller. A Green government suspends extraction of fossil fuels, prompting a Russian invasion of Norway.

It’s based on an idea by bestselling Norwegian author Jo Nesbø, and is now available on DVD. While the plotline may seem farfetched, it does illustrate the way US imperialism treats its smaller ‘allies’.

Political instability in the Middle East undermines oil production creating an energy crisis in Europe. This, and a devastating hurricane that hits Norway, propel the Green Party to power on the back of an anti-fossil fuel mood.

The occupation spawns a right-wing nationalist paramilitary group, Free Norway. The group embarks on a campaign of individual terrorism, including abducting both Prime Minister Jesper Berg and the Russian ambassador.

Meanwhile, the occupation proves to be a lifeline for a restaurant in financial difficulties. The occupiers make it their restaurant of choice. This causes friction with the restaurateur’s son, who accuses her of collaborating with the occupation – and who eventually joins Free Norway.

There is a striking resemblance to the period of Vidkun Quilsing’s Nazi-collaborator Norwegian government during World War Two.

Berg tries without success to get the European Union to pressurise the Russians to withdraw. He is released from his abduction and goes into hiding, running the country from the US embassy.

He mistakenly believes that the US would readily help its old ally and take military action to remove the Russians from Norwegian soil. But they aren’t interested in engaging in a battle they might lose. By this time, the US is self-sufficient in oil, and has no vested interest in defending European oil supplies.

Occupied examines the potential for armed conflict over scarce natural resources. It also shows the big powers defending the interests of their ruling class first, come what may.

The writers clearly wanted to send a message that US and EU foreign policy is exploitative and self-serving. Smaller countries like Norway are no more than pawns on a chess board, to be helped when it suits US interests and ignored when it doesn’t. A point Occupied conveys admirably, and in a very watchable way.