Magne channels the power of Thor.
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Everyone assumes the physically imposing, dyslexic Magne is dimwitted — he’s more of a slow, deliberate thinker — and his lack of social skills makes him a misfit, although he finds a platonic friend in fellow outcast Isolde (Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin), a passionate environmentalist who stumbles on a Jutul family secret. Magne develops a crush on Gry (Emma Bones), who friend-zones him in favor of the handsome and charming Fjor. And Isolde’s investigations soon put him on a collision course with the Jutul clan.
There are some fine performances here. For instance, Gravli brings just the right enigmatic touch to Laurits, whose motives and loyalties are never quite clear. Although he torments his older brother, he still publicly mocks members of the Jutul family in revenge when they launch a smear campaign against Magne in order to nullify the threat he poses to them. Tømmeraas’ Fjor is equally engaging as he finds himself torn between family loyalty and his love for Gry. And Steenstrup is quite affecting as Turid, who left Edda after the tragic death of her husband, and still struggles with depression. She discourages Magne from pursuing the Jutul family, since she now works for the company and relies on that income to provide a stable home for her sons. The threat the Jutuls pose to the environment pales in comparison.
The series comes alive whenever it dispenses with the climate change theme and focuses on the central characters and conflicts.
That said, there are some very silly elements that challenge one’s willing suspension of disbelief. Vidar Jutul, for instance, has a penchant for stripping down whenever he’s about to unleash a beat-down — which happens a lot. I get that it’s meant to symbolize Vidar shedding his veneer of sophisticated civility to reveal his inner feral nature, but it does get ridiculous over time. And what passes for “cool” at Edda’s local high school dance might strike younger American viewers in particular as hopelessly stuck in the s. But that’s a regional cultural difference, not necessarily a flaw. (I personally thought the Goth-metal music set to Old Norse lyrics was intriguing.)
On paper, at least, this is a clever use of the concept of
Ragnorak as a metaphor for modern-day climate change , given that the mythological apocalypse is traditionally associated with extreme weather patterns that lead to a crisis for humanity. However, the execution is heavy-handed. Too often, the tone is didactic and lecturing, and saddling Thedin’s Isolde with all that leaden dialogue doesn’t do her character any favors. She’s the least interesting and likable of the lot; she shouldn’t be. It’s no accident that the series comes alive whenever it dispenses with the climate change theme and focuses on the central characters and conflicts. That’s when it channels the full power of the Norse mythology that serves as the series’ source material, which has endured for centuries for a reason.
Ragnorak has been
Ragnorak is currently streaming on Netflix. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
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