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Series / Řyevitne

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Two friends keep a secret with spiralling repercussions...

Øyevitne (English: Eyewitness) is a 2014 Nordic Noir crime mini-series written and directed by Jarl Emsell Larsen, produced by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK and starring Anneke von der Lippe, who won an International Emmy for Best Actress for her role as Helen Sikkeland. The series also features the debut of young Norwegian actors Axel Gehrken Bøyum and Odin Waage in co-starring roles. For the 2016 American remake, please go here: Eyewitness (2016).

The series begins with school friends Philip (Bøyum) and Henning (Waage) hanging out together in an old workers’ cabin at a remote quarry, where they nervously begin to explore a previously unspoken mutual attraction. Their brief encounter is shattered when a car pulls up outside and a gun battle takes place before their eyes between a hostage and his abductors. The surviving abductee, having expertly dispatched his captors, spots the spying boys, but they manage to force an escape, taking the murder weapon with them, which they hurl into a nearby rock pool.

The victims of the shoot-out all belong to the local Ferrymen biker gang – though it’s soon revealed that one of them was a police informer trying to save the abductee-turned-killer from his captors, but the killer’s identity remains a mystery.

Philip and Henning make a pact to tell no one what they have witnessed, lest their sexual experimentation be discovered, but as Philip’s foster mother Helen (von der Lippe) is the local sheriff and heading up the murder investigation, their silence on what they both witnessed proves increasingly difficult.


As a with all Nordic Noir dramas, beware of uncovered spoilers below!

Tropes found in Øyevitne include:

  • Addled Addict: Anne Britt Karlsen, Philip’s mother, who has a history of medication dependency and is currently in rehab — though she insists she's getting better.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Camilla Bjerke, assigned to protect Henning whilst he lies in his hospital bed, is nicknamed 'Lara Croft' by both Henning and Philip.
  • All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: Following the murder of four bikers in a quarry as the series begins, a large part of the early plot is given over to the tense relationship between local Balkan club-owner Hamit Milonkovic's crime syndicate and The Ferrymen — a biker chapter who Hamit employs to kidnap and kill his daughter Zana's paedophile lover "Nixon", later revealed to be Ronny Berg Larsen.
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  • Always Murder: Ronny, revealed as the killer in the first few scenes, was also conducting a paedophilic relationship with 15 year old Zana and stages her suicide by hanging when she becomes carelessly chatty and clinging.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Henning, whose macho father may have something to do with his internalised homophobia, and the fact that he’s something of a popular jock at school due to his skills as a star motor-cross biker.
  • The Beard: Alpha Bitch Mia for Henning, which he basically admits to Philip after the latter witnesses them kissing at a party.
  • Big Bad: Ronny Berg Larsen, the Head of Oslo's Organised Crime Unit is revealed to be the killer from the very first few scenes. As well as relentlessly trying to suppress the investigation into the murders he committed in the quarry, he also conducts a paedophilic relationship with a local crime boss' daughter before staging her suicide. When he's made aware that Henning and Philip witnessed his murdering rampage, he stages a bike accident that puts Henning in a coma and later abducts Philip to presumably make it look like he killed himself too. Luckily, his Evil Plan is thwarted by Helen, whose impassioned speech (in which she actually offers him a way out) gets to him so much that he's Driven to Suicide.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: All the dialogue is primarily in Norwegian but some Danish and Swedish characters do make an appearance, speaking in their own languages as they are all mutually intelligible to an extent (slower speech is the usual practise to ensure understanding).
  • Book Ends: The series both begins and closes with scenes of Philip and Henning joking around happily together.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Zana, though many of her antics probably stem from her father being a career criminal.
  • Bury Your Gays: Mercifully averted, though the series plays at this at least three or four times during its latter half via Philip's near-miss drunken encounter with a train, and Henning's hospitalisation following the motorbike accident Ronny stages, where he goes into cardiac arrest at least three times. The series fortunately concludes where it started; with Philip and Henning happy together.
  • Bungled Suicide: Implied. Following their falling-out, Philip witnesses Henning kissing Mia at a party and lingers dejectedly nearby, getting more and more drunk on a bottle of vodka Henning has hurled his way. In despair over losing Henning (and Helen refusing to believe his account of the murder), he wanders utterly wasted down the train-tracks at Slitu, seemingly not caring at all if the oncoming train flattens him. Luckily, he either dodges at the last minute, or the train manages to brake in time (we don't see), but he's discovered passed-out next to the tracks by Helen and Sven.
  • Cassandra Truth: The fourth episode deals with Philip telling Helen that Henning witnessed the murders in the quarry. Unfortunately nobody believes him because Henning, worried that his sexuality will be exposed, refuses to corroborate his story and Helen catches Philip in what she believes to be another lie.
  • Closet Key: Philip, for Henning. It’s pretty clear that prior to their sexual experimentation in the cabin, Henning hadn’t yet confronted his sexuality, or feelings for Philip. It takes Philip’s gently sincere admittance of attraction and a little bit of comfortable suggestion – “what would you do if I was your babe?” – to get Henning to reveal his feelings.
  • Covers Always Lie: Many of the series' promotional images (especially internationally) revolved around Zana, with her walking along moody-looking city streets looking mysterious and Final Girl-ish. However, apart from her brief encounter with Ronny and subsequent staged-suicide, she doesn't feature as much as the imagery would have us believe.
  • Crying Wolf: Philip often fibs to Helen about his whereabouts, mostly so that he can make time to visit his mother in rehab, so she therefore doesn't initially believe him about Henning witnessing the murders.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Philip, whose mother Anne Britt is an immature medication addict who can barely look after herself, let alone a teenage son. Philip mentions to a shocked Sven that he’s seen a dead body up close and personal, when he discovered his mother’s friend Øyvind dead on their sofa – presumably from an overdose.
  • Death of a Child: The bikers versus Balkans gang war hits the headlines when a young girl at a primary school is accidentally shot and killed in a shoot-out.
  • Dénouement: The story wraps up nicely at the end of episode 6, with no significant loose ends outstanding and most of the main cast earning a happy ending (see below) following 6 episodes of tense drama. The final scenes feature Helen and Henning on the road to recovery in hospital, both reunited with Philip.
  • Disappeared Dad: Philip’s father is notably absent and judging by his mother Anne Britt's erratic behaviour, it's likely she has no idea who he is either. Tellingly, when Ronny starts researching Philip's background in order to dispose of him, Philip's father is noted as 'ukjent' (unknown) in the civil database.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ronny Berg Larsen, having been exposed as the killer in the quarry and Zana's murderer, shoots himself in the head after Helen passionately pleads with him (even bribing him with an alibi) to release Philip, whom he has kidnapped and tied up in the boot of his car.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For mostly everyone (including the viewer after 6 episodes of tense drama) — rare for a Nordic Noir. Ronny is outed as the killer and commits suicide before he can harm Philip; Anne Britt is saved from a staged suicide; Henning recovers from his coma and is reunited with Philip; Despite taking a bullet, Helen is expected to make a full recovery and she and Philip are now bonded closer than ever.
  • Fair Cop: Local Mysen sheriff Helen is a fine looking woman, as are undercover OC cops Camilla Bjerke and Lars Strømme (well, he is played by Tobias Santelmann).
  • Family Disunion: One of the main themes of the series involves Helen and Sven and their foster son Philip reconciling their differences and coming together as a family — which they do by the finale, but only after experiencing the traumatic events depicted.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Camilla, whilst being a little indiscrete, is a police officer with a sense of protective duty. Her sister Siri is a biker-chick party girl who neglects her baby son.
  • Foreign Remake: An American remake, Eyewitness (2016) was released two years later in 2016, and fairly faithfully follows the plot. One major difference is that in the remake, Philip's mother dies before Helen can save her from the killer's staged overdose.
  • Foreshadowing: The school Alpha Bitch Mia snarks that she bets it's Henning who died in the quarry, as he's so reckless on his bike that he's bound to one day have an accident — which is exactly what happens in episode 5 when Ronny lays a trap on Henning's usual course, firing a taser at him so he goes plunging over the handlebars and into a rockpool below.
  • Foster Kid: Helen and Sven fostered Philip when his own medication addict mother proved herself incapable. The trio have a fractious relationship as the series begins, which is fully healed by the dramatic events of the finale.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: A murderous, paedophilic killer named 'Ronny'.
  • Gang of Hats: Both the Sixers and Ferrymen biker gangs all wear matching club jackets and have similar tattoos.
  • Gay Guy Seeks Popular Jock: Philip and Henning. Prior to the series opener, it's implied Philip is a relative newcomer to Mysen, having been placed in foster care with Helen and Sven. Popular, sporty Henning is therefore his only real friend, as well as being the object of his affections.
  • Gayngst: Henning massively struggles to accept his sexuality, calling Philip a "homo" and a "fag" on a couple of occasions whilst he deals with his internalised homophobia, which is hugely exacerbated after he witnesses several people getting shot right after his first kiss with a boy.
  • The Hero: Helen Sikkeland — a By-the-Book Cop who's struggling to raise her foster son Philip whilst conducting an inquest into the quarry murders, just as Oslo's OC unit begins to muscle in on her case. Her truly heroic side emerges in the finale where, having learned from both Henning and later Philip that Ronny is the quarry killer, she confronts him (after he’s kidnapped the titular eyewitness Philip) and pleads with him, out of earshot, to let her foster son go — even resorting to completely uncharacteristic bribery (offering Ronny an alibi) if he'll release Philip unharmed.
  • Heroic BSoD: Because Helen refuses to believe him and Henning pushes him away and humiliates him, Philip breaks down and calls Social Services, demanding to be relocated. He then gets drunk and ends up wandering dangerously down the Slitu train-tracks before passing out and being safely brought home by Helen and Sven.
  • Happily Married: Helen and Sven. It's clearly a second marriage, as Sven has grown up children, and the couple are romantically passionate, with Helen at one point instigating a fairly steamy sex-scene by straddling Sven and unbuttoning her shirt.
  • Joggers Find Death: After Ronny strangles his underage lover Zana to death when she becomes a nuisance, he strings her body up in a tree to make it look like suicide by hanging, which is discovered the next morning by a jogger and her dog.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Local sheriff Helen Sikkeland and her team clash badly with Lars’ Oslo-based organised crime unit throughout the series and right up until the finale where they are unite in horror over the killer turning out to be One of Our Own.
  • Leave No Witnesses: After Ronny has murdered his captors in the quarry, he realises Henning and Philip have witnessed the whole thing from the cabin. The boys force their escape, with Henning knocking Ronny out with a frying pan. When Ronny joins the investigation (into the murders he committed, no less), he firstly dispatches his under-age lover Zana, faking her suicide, and then when he learns that Henning was one of the witnesses in the cabin, he stages a motorbike accident that puts Henning in a coma. Finally, after an unwitting Camilla blabs that Philip also witnessed his murderous rampage, he stages a kidnap, likely with the intent of setting up Philip's suicide too.
  • Love Confession: The first scene in the cabin where, after opening a couple of beers and collapsing with laughter on a camp-bed, Philip makes his first move, starting off safely — "do you ever bring babes up here?" — before making it clear that he wants to be Henning's babe. Henning initially laughs it off and play-fights with Philip, but after turning out the cabin lights, the encounter moves on to something far more romantic.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Ronny's modus operandi in dealing with those who could reveal his identity:
    • He strangles his underage lover Zana to death when she becomes a nuisance and sets it up to look like she hung herself.
    • Once Ronny is made aware that Henning was one of the witnesses to his murderous rampage, he sets up an ambush on his motocross trail. As Henning approaches a jump over a waterfall, Ronny fires a taser into Henning's chest, which causes him to flip over the handlebars and tumble into the pool below, the bike then landing on top of him and pinning him underwater. He's down for a good seven minutes before Philip and his protection officer can get him free and almost doesn't make it, going into cardiac arrest at least three times before stabilising and recovering.
    • When he learns that Philip also witnessed his crime, he breaks into his mother Anne Britt's apartment, sends a fake distraught message from her phone, and sets it up to look like she's taken a heroin overdose.
  • Mama Bear: Helen has no children of her own (her husband Sven does), and throughout the early part of the series, she finds Philip's fibbing and moodiness very challenging, even suggesting to Sven that maybe the boy should indeed, as Philip wishes, be rehomed with another foster family. However, after almost losing Philip when he wanders drunkenly onto a railway line, and later when Ronny actually kidnaps him, Helen drops all of her by-the-book police procedural training and begs Ronny to release Philip, even promising to let him get away (literally with murder) if Philip is left unharmed.
  • Maternally Challenged: Helen is obviously uncomfortable with parenthood, speaking tersely with Philip and finding him frustratingly impolite and sneaky. Sven, by contrast, is warm, easygoing, and communicates well with his foster son.
  • Never Suicide: Ronny kills Zana and makes it look like suicide by hanging when she starts blabbing openly about his paedophilic relationship with her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • When Philip identifies Ronny as the killer, Helen realises that she has been completely unknowingly feeding him information on the case — including tipping him off about the key witnesses; Henning and her foster son Philip.
    • Henning, after he realises that his cruel spurning of Philip almost drove the latter to drunkenly wander in front of an oncoming train. After saying a genuine sorry, the pair embrace and passionately kiss.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Mysen is a small rural Norwegian town which Helen keeps peaceful in her capacity as sheriff. The murders in the quarry, perpetrated by Ronny, shock the close-knit community.
  • Nordic Noir: Whilst the series contains some of the key NN cues in terms of its tough female lead, dramatic twists and turns, unflinching violence and overall melancholy, it also rather spectacularly averts the typical Bitter Sweet Ending or plain Downer Ending common to the genre.
  • Oh, Crap!: Whilst chatting with Camilla in hospital, as she stands watch over the comatose Henning, Philip asks to borrow her mobile. As he's playing Angry Birds a call comes through from none other than Ronny, aka the killer he witnessed in the quarry, who Camilla airily explains is her boyfriend. Utterly panicked, Philip calls Helen to tell her he knows the killer's identity.
  • One-Word Title: Øyevitne — "Eyewitness" in English.
  • Papa Wolf: Hamit might be a morally corrupt drug-dealing kingpin, but he loves his daughter Zana and goes through great lengths to protect her — including orchestrating the local biker gang to kidnap and kill her paedophile lover "Nixon", later revealed to be the killer in the quarry, Ronny.
  • Pædo Hunt: When it's revealed that the killer in the quarry is also responsible for engaging in a paedophilic relationship with Zana Korda, whom he then strangles to death, the tone of the case grows far darker and Helen's team are conspicuously more determined than ever to stop him.
  • Reverse Who Dunnit: In the very first scenes, young lovers Philip and Henning witness a bound, naked man being pulled from the boot of a car by four bikers, before he skilfully breaks free and murders them all. This abductee is soon revealed to the viewers to be Oslo's Head of Organised Crime, Ronny Berg Larsen, but it takes the full six episodes for lead investigator Helen Sikkeland and the rest of her team (with witness help from Philip and Henning) to identify him as the killer.
  • Saying Too Much: Camilla, incarnate. She begins a casual fling with Ronny, of course not realising he is the killer, but also feeding him literally all the information he needs to stay one step ahead of the investigation, as well as the identity of the key witnesses, Henning and Philip, whom Ronny then directly targets.
  • Scenery Porn: Norway at the height of mid-summer, where it stays light even at midnight. Despite the moody plot, the rolling countryside and vast pine forests are impressively beautiful.
  • Secret Relationship: A total of three across the series:
    • Philip and Henning's relationship, mostly due to the latter's brief, but strong internalised homophobia. After Philip's scare on the railway line in episode 4, the pair make up and Henning is much more openly affectionate. In the finale, Philip chokes out that he and Henning are in love to a supportive Sven, who notes he thinks it's wonderful.
    • Zana and Ronny — morally despicable on his behalf and completely illegal due to her being 15 years old. Their relationship begins prior to the series, and both parties try to keep it private, but in the series' opening episode, Zana's father Hamit has found out and sent a gang of bikers after Ronny, kicking off the entire series plot when Philip and Henning witness him murdering his captors.
    • Camilla and Ronny, who begin seeing each other later in the series — mostly so he can use her as a mole to stay one step ahead of Helen's investigation. He's furious when she casually notes their relationship is the subject of work gossip, slamming her into a wall and quickly having to make up a fake story about a dead former friend to explain himself.
  • Straight Gay: Philip, who whilst being sensitive and romantic, doesn't exhibit any particularly identifiable 'gay' mannerisms. Henning, being a Lovable Jock and a star motocross biker, is something of a Manly Gay, even.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot: Philip and Henning just wanted to hang out at the quarry, have a couple of beers and explore their budding attraction. However, the arrival of The Ferrymen biker gang, with a kidnapped Ronny Berg Larsen in tow, propels them into the plot when they both witness Ronny's subsequent escape and murder spree.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Helen Sikkeland, sheriff of Mysen, is forced to collaborate with the capital Oslo's Organised Crime unit, headed up by the aloof Ronny (aka the killer), the hot-headed and possibly misogynist Lars, and the well-meaning but naive Camilla. The two investigative branches clash over procedure on multiple occasions and the lack of information sharing turns the investigation into something of a competition.
    • Hamit Milonkovic, a local Balkan crime-boss employs the services of local biker gang The Ferrymen (with whom he is usually at odds) to hunt down, kidnap and murder his daughter Zana's paedophile lover "Nixon", aka Ronny Berg Larsen, the killer in the quarry.
  • Working the Same Case: The murdered bikers and the Balkan mafia storylines are connected, as the head of the latter had unusually co-opted members of the former to murder his daughter Zana's paedophile lover. When the lover turns out to be the head of Oslo's OC unit, Ronny Berg Larsen, who proceeds to murder his biker captors, the cases of Zana's murder and the murder of the bikers in the quarry become inextricably linked, with the common denominator being Ronny himself.
  • Wham Episode: In the final moments of episode 5, Henning is stealthily attacked by Ronny and sent tumbling to his doom down a waterfall, pinned underwater. The episode closes with protection officer Eirik Thømte frantically trying to restart Henning's heart.
  • When It All Began: The entire plot is kicked off by Ronny Berg Larsen's relationship with Zana Korda, the underage daughter of a local Balkan crime-boss, Hamit. Wanting rid of Berg Larsen, Hamit solicits the services of the local biker gang, The Ferrymen, to dispose of him, which kicks off the chain reaction of events depicted throughout the six episode series.