Channel 4’s foreign crime streaming service Walter Presents is throwing all its chips down on Nordic noir for the new year, debuting four Scandinavian crime series between January and March 2022. First up is the Norwegian procedural Outlier, which will air on Channel 4 from 9 January. It will be followed by Cry Wolf (Denmark) starting 30 January, The Truth Will Out season 2 (Sweden) on 13 February and Snow Angels (Sweden) on 13 March.
Our first trip is to the far north of Norway and the fictional town of Nerbygd in Outlier, which will be available to stream on Walter Presents from Friday 7 January. Walking home from a party one night, a young woman called Elle (Eila Ballovara Varsi) finds an iPhone in the road. It belongs to someone she sort of knows called Sofie but when she tries to return the phone Sofie isn’t home and her family don’t know and don’t care where she is.
A while later, a woman’s body is found in a trailer on a campsite and the police chief, Johan (Stein Bjørn), leaps to the conclusion that the culprit was a local druggie called Roy who has a couple of past convictions – and somehow he gets a confession from the man.
Over in London, Maja Angell (Hanne Mathisen Haga) is working on a doctoral thesis in criminology. Her theory is that male serial killers who abduct women are methodical in their approach, identifying and preying on soft targets on the margins of society. The outliers. The overlooked. She also believes that the offenders often get away with it because male police fail to recognise the telltale signs of a serial killer at work, opting instead for the simplest solution.
Following events in her hometown of Nerbygd from afar, she thinks the police have the wrong suspect which, apart from being a miscarriage of justice also means that an organised and confident killer is still on the loose in the region. She returns home hoping to find out more about the case and to challenge the police work behind the conviction. The man they’ve put away isn’t even a competent thief and Maja doubts he’d be able to plan and execute an abduction, let alone leave behind an immaculate crime scene.
As the series progresses, Maja uncovers the possibility that other women who have gone missing from the Nerbygd-Bardufoss area were taken by the same killer and that he’s still at large. The trouble is that not everyone in the community wants to hear this news. More worrying for Maja is that as her investigation proceeds, repressed memories begin to haunt her. Things aren’t quite right around Nerdbygd, and they haven’t been for a while – something that’s hinted at from the very first episode, when her cousin tries to hit on her at a Midsummer’s Eve barbecue.
While Outlier doesn’t quite have the slick production values of the programmes that inspired it, such as The Killing and The Bridge, it offers an interesting perspective on the strained social fabric of outlier communities in northern parts of Scandinavia, where rural poverty is eroding people’s lives. The dialogue is direct and functional, and there’s a fair bit of Sara Lund in Maja’s character – knitwear included.
The key issues of violence against women and the failure of male dominated police departments to react effectively are raised from the start. It’s also interesting to watch Maja’s character grow more complex as the series continues and to see how key figures in the community and her life react as she exposes some of the town’s dirty little secrets.
Outlier consists of eight 45-minute episodes, and was originally aired on HBO Nordic from November 2020. Click here to stream Outlier on Walter Presents.