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Series / Beforeigners

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So I'm superstitious, but you don't eat bread because there's evil spirit Gluten in it?

"Don't go to sleep tonight, robbers! Here come Detective Motherless and her squires! We'll grab the city by the balls and bring evil to its knees!"
— Urd, after deciding that a police siren isn't good enough

Beforeigners is a Norwegian series that explores the ramifications of time holes that periodically deposit people from the past into the present day. Created by Anne Bjørnstad and Eilif Skodvin and premiering on HBO Nordic on 2019 August 21, the first season ran six episodes, and in 2020 it was confirmed to be renewed for a second season. It is currently available in international markets on HBO Max with English subtitles.

For two decades now, the time holes have deposited "timeigrants" from the Stone Age, the Viking Age, and the 19th century into the present day. The time holes are said to be a global phenomenon, but the series focuses exclusively on the city of Oslo. The series is also a Police Procedural, focusing on veteran police detective Lars Haaland as he is paired with rookie cop Alfhildr Enginnsdottir, Oslo's first police officer of "a multi-temporal background" to investigate the murder of a supposed Prehistorian woman, which in turn leads them deep down the rabbit hole.


This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Alfhildr, Urd, and Ada.
  • Adult Fear: Urd is suffering from cancer, and her agony over the debilitating effects of any treatments for cancer lead her to delay seeking treatment and participate in increasingly reckless behavior.
  • Allegory: The timeigrants are an allegory for the plight of refugees in the real world.
  • Buddy Cop Show: He's a single dad with a secret drug problem. She's a Norse shieldmaiden. Together, They Fight Crime!
  • By-the-Book Cop:
    • Despite his drug problems, as an officer on duty, Lars is very strict and follows all the protocol, for better or worse. This is why the opening case is even a case to begin with - his colleagues just wanted to report it as a random drowning and go for a lunch.
    • Alfhildr really, really tries to be this, but whenever things go hairy - and they often do - she switches into a Cowboy Cop. Which is still an improvement over her rather hot-headed private personality.
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  • Conlang: The Mesolithic language is a full-blown conlang created by the show's writers.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Alfhildr's patronymic Enginnsdottir, meaning "no man's daughter" turns out to be one, as she was discovered as a child by Tore Hund after she appeared in the Oslofjord out of nowhere after going through a time hole in reverse.
  • Cringe Comedy: The series gets an entire mileage from having Fish out of Water set-up for variety of jokes and comedic situations.
  • Contemporary Caveman: Referred to as "Prehistorians", they come from the Mesolithic Age.
  • Couch Gag: In the opening titles, Lars drives through the city, and Alfhildr is either walking through town or riding with him as they see various effects of the timeigration on the city and people, such as:
    • Stone Age people sitting in trees, spearfishing in a river, squatting on a concrete spillway eating the fish
    • A Victorian man riding a penny farthing bicycle; another riding a horse and cart, while listening to music on headphones
    • Homeless timeigrants in government-supplied outfits sleeping in a park, passing time on grass verges, drifting about in a sensory-overloaded daze
    • Two Victorian women riding an electric scooter
    • Street signs with added runes for the benefit of Norse people
    • Graffiti reading "The past is the future" and "BEFOREIGNERS GO HOME" with the response "OK, men vordan?" (more or less, "OK, but how?")
    • A Stone Age man in a loincloth carrying bags of shopping, including a large pack of toilet rolls
    • Alfhildr looks at at an ancient ruin of a church as they drive past it, possibly contemporary to her time or even destroyed by her people.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: During one of the investigations, the only witness Lars and Alfhildr end up having is a young girl, who not only just landed in modern times, but is also stoned on sedatives in the arrival center. So when the girl describes a traditional Norse sea-monster as what captured the victim, Lars instantly assumes she must be just scared and tripping, while setting up Alfhildr to chase after the monster lead, knowing she will make an ass of herself during a briefing. What they both realise on their own is that the girl was telling the truth, but what she took for a monster was simply a trawling net, giving them a very solid lead in their investigation.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: One of the running themes and source of both comedy and drama. The timeigrants rarely embrace modern sensibilities and if so, only to a limited extent, leading to a lot of clashes with modern people - and often also modern law.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Well, modern drugs are bad. While vikings getting high on shrooms is mostly played for laughs and they do it purely recreationally, Lars addiction to temproxate is shown for all its destructive effect. And it's not the drug itself (since it's a medical-purpose sedative), but how it destroys Lars' relationships, put his friends and family in danger and slowly drives him to do more and more reckless things just to get another fix. He also quickly slips down the slippery slope once resigning from police and having no more distractions from doing more drugs. This is all done with suprising amound of tact, but the message is still clearly there.
  • Dying as Yourself: Urd's desire to do this is why she refuses to undergo chemotherapy, as she believes it will sap her of who she is. She gets her wish when she takes a bullet for Tore Hund before the cancer can get her.
  • Evil Luddite: There's an entire terrorist group of these, founded by beforeigners from the 19th century, who were the original deal. The Neo-Luddites are successful enough at what to do that they managed to disrupt the entire Internet by preventing clocks from syncing with each other, but it's also mentioned the actual luddites from 19th century are so incompetent with any modern technology, the usual result is a hilariously failed attempt at vandalism.
  • Fantastic Drug: Temproxate. Originally developed to treat sensory overload in timeigrants, it is also illegally trafficked and sold as a recreational drug. It has addictive properties, as Lars deals with a temproxate addiction for much of the first season. As the drug is stereotypically associated with timeigrants, it's not uncommon for them to be falsely accused of being drug dealers, unfortunately.
  • Fantastic Racism: Timesism. There is considerable prejudice against the timeigrants. Most Prehistorians and Norse are homeless, and even the 19th-century arrivals are often accused of drug trafficking for no reason.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Viking", of all words. They prefer to be referred to as people of Norse descent, and "the V-word" is considered offensive.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Lars starts as probably the biggest enemy for Alfhildr in the force, being stuck with the last partner he could possibly want to get. She pays back in kind, up to the point of blackmailing him with his addiction. Over the course of the series, however, they get much better, to the point Alfhildr admits Lars is the only friend she has in the police.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Quite possibly the Central Theme of the series are the timeigrants dealing with a society centuries more advanced than their home.
  • Friend on the Force: Inverted with Alfhildr and her timeigrant friends. When she badly needs a search party, she just gets them on site to help locate the murder site, before rain will wash everything away. Lars later helps Alfhildr to present the final result in much more professional light, reporting things like "use of traditional hunting techniques" and "borrowed trained tracking dog" from "local timeigrant community".
  • Going Cold Turkey: A reliable way of dealing with temproxate addiction. Alfhildr mentions she spent a week strapped to a bed and simply sweating it out, while Lars neighbour, who used to peddle him the drops, is aware of a herbal treatment to ease on the process.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Urd puts herself in the way of a gun meant for Tore Hund, earning herself a place in Valhalla.
  • Historical Domain Character: Tore Hund and Olaf the Stout.
  • Horny Vikings: In the Nordic countries at least, the arrivals from The Low Middle Ages are these. Just don't call them the V-word.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Deconstructed. The Victorian-era reporter, while doing her job in the perfectly appropriate fashion for her times, from modern perspective practices blatant yellow journalism and her sensation chasing does nothing good to anyone.
  • It Gets Easier: In one of his flashbacks, a clearly shell-shocked teenage Tore is assured by his father that he will get used to "it". "It" means raiding settlements. Considering the sort of reputation he gained later on, the old man was right.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Alfhildr is admitted to the police force and instantly assigned to a homicide unit, simply because the police badly needs a good PR after recent blowback from what appears to be a hate-fueled timeigrant murder. She turns out to be suprisingly good at her job.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Timeigration takes a toll on people's memories.
    • None of the timeigrants remember how or why they came here.
    • Tore Hund has lost all of his memories and doesn't regain them until an encounter with Alfhildr followed by an attempt on his life.
    • After Madde's trip through time and back, she has no memories of what happened, only for them to be awakened when Olaf calls her.
    • Olaf doesn't remember the time he spent with Madde until he has a seizure in orientation class.
  • Like a Duck Takes to Water: While they are relatively rare cases, some of the timeimgrants adopt very easily to modern times and mores. There are three outstanding examples:
    • Navn could give Keyrock run for his money. Despite being a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer, he adopts to modern lifestyle with ease, up to establishing both a legit fashion brand and just as successful crime empire, living a wealthy and respected lifestyle with a loving wife and gated mansion.
    • Alfhildr has assimilated to 21st-century society better than most of her contemporaries, to the point she manages to finish a police academy, despite previously being a shieldmaiden.
    • A journalist from 1870s simply continues her job as if nothing really changed. Unlike pretty much everyone from her time period, she nearly completely switched to modern fashion and short from her dated word-choices, nobody would know better she isn't just an eccentric reporter.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The old Saami shaman's prophecy: just pure coincidence and random nonsense, or she had a genuine vision of the future?
    • Is Kalv just a figment of Lars's mental illness, or is he actually an avatar of Odin?
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: What starts looking like a drowning case escalates to a murder case, which in turn reveals a human-trafficking business, few other murders, a terrorist organisation and two different governmental conspiracies, among other things.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Alfhildr is on her period in the first episode, and she initially stuffs her pants with moss until Lars buys her some sanitary napkins. She describes them as like having a soft kitty in your pants.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Lars, to some extent. He doesn't like the timeimgrants, not so much out of bigotry, but because his wife left him for a Victorian man (and lifestyle), his previously upmarket neighbourhood is now a beforeigner ghetto and he's addicted to temproxate, developed for the timeimgrants.
  • Not Quite Dead: Olaf the Stout didn't die as the history books suggested; instead, he timeigrated to the 21st century.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The modern Norwegians operate under this assumption when they're presenting displays of modern social and sexual norms which are pretty much incompatible with medieval religion to Norse Christians; provoking the question "Is Norway still Christian?"
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: One of the main sources of humour is the problem Norway is facing when trying to accomodate people from the past and how exactly integrate them into the modern society with its values. This also means doing a lot of PR moves that aren't the smartest, but are intended solely for "feel good" value - including getting Alfhildr to a homicide unit, out of all places they could put the "Viking mascot" into the police force.
  • Pun-Based Title: before + foreigners = beforeigners
  • Rape and Revenge: Before even admitted into police, Alfhildr tracked on her own a guy from her times who happend to rape her when she was 12. She finally finds a chance to confront him soon after joining the force, beating the guy in a bar's restroom into a bloody pulp before Lars intervines. The only reason she gets away with Police Brutality charges is because she blackmails Lars on his temproxate addiction and the "victim" is a criminal in modern times, too, so he would endanger himself by pressing charges.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Having around people from the past, and in quantity, is quite a hassle to deal with and would drive any sort of public services to a breaking point. Especially since they never really stop coming.
    • Even if a witness is telling the truth, if they are drugged or stoned, they might as well just not say anything, since none of it will be admissible.
    • If you want someone to start chemo, don't expose them to patients on it, or they will get scared and refuse treatment.
  • Real Men Love Jesus:
    • The current ring champion in the underground fighting arena is a devout Christian. It's implied he comes from the 11th century.
    • Olaf the Stout would be an archetypical example, to the point of being declared a saint.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gregers delivers on to Lars, once he realised he's a drug-addict and all the problems Ingrid and Gregers himself went through were caused by his addiction. Lars admits his failings and then pointedly retorts with everything he finds vile and hypocritical about Gregers, including stealing Lars family.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Three guesses what happens when you end up giving a firearm to someone used to fighting with a sword - and that's after being already professionally trained how to use a gun.
  • Red Herring: Trine "Ada" Syversen and her entire subplot is nothing what it appears to be. More, she is being framed by the actual perpetrators as a very handy scrapegoat.
  • Replacement Goldfish: As far as Lars is concerned, Gregers is using his own ex-wife and daughter as replacement for the family he lost when time-shifted. And he might be right, given how Gregers instantly shut-up when Lars chewed him back in their argument.
  • Retired Monster:
    • Tore Hund. He is known in historical records as a cunning and infamously brutal cheiftain and has an in-universe Memetic Badass status among timeigrants from his time period. But when finding himself in the 21st century, he works as a bike courier, delivering food and lives a very mundane life with a modern wife and a young daughter. While the series toys for a while with the concept this might be just a result of his amnesia, as he keeps regaining his past memories, he sticks to his far more peaceful and calm persona.
    • Ada used to be a highly-trained military drone operator. When she eventually was discharged from service and realising what kind of things she was really doing with few button presses, she joined a luddite cult as sort of penance and a way to deal with her severe PTSD. How much of it was genuine is to be seen in second season.
  • Shown Their Work: The show's creators have an academic background in lingustics and sociology, and they used that expertise and their connections with the linguistics community to create the Mesolithic language and make sure the depiction of Old Norse was as realistic as possible. Per Word of God:
    "Old Norse is very well documented in the sagas, we know how the language was, but we do not know how it was pronounced. Therefore early on, I contacted researchers, professors who helped us. We also constructed the language that stone-age people spoke, and even with the language from the 19th century: We worked on it to make it sound right. We also had a language coach to help actors on set. The full process was long. But then, people do spend time on costume and make-up. Why not invest in language, which is such a big part of a person’s identity?"
  • Take a Third Option: Let the cancer kill you or undergo debilitating therapy that may be worse than the disease itself? Urd chooses to perform a Heroic Sacrifice instead.
  • They Fight Crime!: He's a contemporary detective with a variety of reasons to dislike the beforeigners, and she's a Viking shield-maiden joining him on the force.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Heavily downplayed, but still present. Alfhildr is trying her very best to both fit in and be a good police officer. Her friendship with Urd, and thus by extend other rowdy vikings, is having bad effect on her professional performance. And general ability to stay sober. However, this is predominately used for comedic purposes and this friendship oftentimes pays off in positive way.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Alfhildr is female and a timeigrant (Norse, on top of that), which makes her a perfect candidate to get hired as a PR move by the police department. She's only mildly aware of her status.
  • The Unpronounceable: Exaggerated. While Norse names tend to be tongue-twisters, Alfhildr's name isn't really the case. Still, while presenting her to the team, the police chief managed to mis-name her four times, including after she corrected him. Twice.
  • Wham Episode: The first season finale. We find out that it's possible to go back in time using the time holes, Alfhildr was born in modern times, Madde spent a considerable amount of time in the past, Olaf the Stout is alive in the present day, he's friends with Madde, Kalv is more than just a temproxate-induced hallucination, and Urd dies to save Tore Hund.


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