Death. Mysteries. Jumpers. Those are the things we’ve all decided to expect from Danish TV, but Greyzone, Walter Presents’ latest, is a thriller that blasts away those stereotypes in favour of something grippingly modern.
That’s partly thanks to its subject matter, which feels like Denmark’s answer to Homeland. The series dives into the world of espionage and technology, as we join Victoria, a software engineer, who works for a drone company, SparrowSat. The firm is pioneering work in the field, particularly when it comes to using them to fly into areas of environmental emergency and offer help. A military contractor, though, is on the verge of buying them out, which raises all kinds of ethical dilemmas for Victoria.
Those questions, though, are soon overshadowed by more pressing dilemmas, as Victoria finds herself in a hostage situation by a group planning a terror attack. To carry it out, they need her to give them access to specific components. And it soon becomes apparent that she’s not about to get out of her life-or-death position anytime soon.
It’s a nifty premise for a thriller, and one that writers Morten Dragster and Oskar Söderlund mine for inner turmoil and external tension. That starts from the opening episode, which introduces us to attractive, intelligent reporter Iyad, an old friend from Victoria’s university. Ardalan Esmaili is wonderful as the shady figure, both ambiguous and full of passion – and he also has convincing chemistry with Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, who plays our lead. When they meet, we believe they’re old acquaintances, just as we believe that she’s polite enough to let him into her home. As they spend more time together, their conversations and debates become more intriguing, bringing in layers of additional conflict to the situation.
Sørensen, though, is the undoubted star, as we follow Victoria’s nervous infiltration of her own company’s security system – an early set piece that plays out like an anti-Bond movie, delivering spy hijinks with a heart-stopping realism. Sørensen grounds the whole affair, selling her concern for her son, her resilience in the face of threats, and her own wrestling with the function and potential of her company’s work. It’s a riveting performance of tiny glances and contained emotion, and the aptly titled Greyzone uses it as the launchpad for a fast-moving story – from the introduction, which gives us a splattering shootout involving a Swedish Security Service agent (Tova Magnusson), to the cliffhangers that close each chapter, daring you to keep going for just one more hour. Who needs jumpers and detectives anyway? Denmark, which also gave us Adam Price’s religious drama Ride Upon the Storm this month, certainly doesn’t.
Greyzone is available to download or stream for free on Walter Presents.