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Beforeigners Season 2 is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

(Beforeigners Season 2 premieres on HBO Max on December 5th)

When the first season of Beforeigners premiered back in 2019, I was instantly smitten by the absurd and high-concept premise. Sometime in the early 2010s, people from the past appear unannounced into present-day Norway. Heralded by flashes of light and power outages, these travelers arrive without rhyme or reason, with no understanding of why the phenomena keeps repeating. Years pass and the titular Beforeigners begin integrating into modern society with varying results.

As far as setups go, Beforeigners is up there with the best of them. So it was equally heartbreaking to see it waste that potential with a dire and muddled first season, which never quite knew what to do with the impressive buildup.

Arriving two years later without the expectation of groundwork, season 2 starts strongly with an investigation into Jack the Ripper. No longer contained by his time, the infamous serial killer now roams the streets in the present. Once again, Beforeigners strikes gold with its premise.

Our returning heroes are equally compelling. Krista Kosonen and Nicolai Cleve Broch, as Alfhildr and Lars, are as charming as ever. Kosonen, in particular, settles into her part more comfortably this time around. She’s magnetic as the warrior out of time, consistently proving herself better than some of the ludicrous plot twists thrown her way. As Lars, Broch once again grounds the series with his scruffy charisma that feels like it might unravel at any minute.

When the duo gets to solve crimes together, the series soars. Sadly, it’s everything else that drags.

Most of that has to do with the supporting cast and their b-plots. While nobody is particularly bad, their stories feel superfluous to the main story. The ensuing drama over Lars’ daughter’s pregnancy, in particular, is tedious at best. Equally distracting is a tawdry soothsayer who can only see the past through cunnilingus.

These issues are much the same that plagued the first season. At its core, Beforeigners is a compelling thriller that satirically pokes equal fun at time travel trope as it does the alt-right. But even at just six episodes, there’s so much filler amped in that the big picture suffers from it. This is the kind of show that benefits from a shorter, more concise season with fewer characters.

Especially as the second season grows wilder and more unhinged as it goes along. It wouldn’t be a lie to say the once low-key series with magical realism embraces hardcore anime tropes before the end. The problem is that smarter properties have struggled with time travel in the past, and Beforeigners, even at its best, has yet to catch up with them.

Instead, it muddies up the already incomprehensible waters even further. Leaving the series at a weird crossroads, lacking the vision or budget to pursue the more interesting path any further.

I want to like Beforeigners, I really do. I’m a sucker for any sci-fi series, good or bad, and I’m thrilled a Nordic series is aiming this high. Lofty ambitions are my jam, so to speak. But for every good episode and brilliant idea, Beforeigners splurges on a dozen terrible ones. It’s a maddening mess that can’t decide who it’s aimed for or what it wants to be.

Even so, here I am, watching every episode. I just wish it was from enthusiasm and not an obligation.

Beforeigners Season 2 is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts
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One Comment

  1. Hatboy Hatboy January 14, 2022

    Just finished watching this one and yeah, agreed on all counts. This show reminded me of Alien Nation in so many ways – I just wanted to watch the culture shock and interesting characters interact, without there needing to be a police procedural in there as well. But I guess there had to be something like that, and a police procedural is fine. But then they couldn’t just do that, either!

    I also had to roll my eyes at the Jack the Ripper thing, like every intellectual property that references the 19th Century has to have Jack the Ripper in it, like the 19th Century is a jungle and Jack the Ripper is the Rock (placeholder: Stick a pin in this idea, it could be gold). That being said, I did like the spin they put on it, and even though I knew the dude was going to say “I was always Jack,” it was a great line.

    Odin was bizarre and unnecessary, and unjustified mainly by dint of how passive Lars was throughout the show.

    I kind of loved the implications of the DNA test even though it is quite easily overturned by a heraldic scholar saying “yeah, but your reign ended anyway.” They just didn’t do much with it. Also I enjoyed the skin-crawling psycho-Viking right-to-lifer and loved seeing him get beaned, but that was also easily fixed with the statement “timeigrants don’t have their own laws any more than immigrants do, arrest that cunt.” They could have gone somewhere with that but they didn’t. Again.

    Ultimately, though, this show had two paths it could have taken. It could have just gone “there are people from different times all converging on this one, go,” and done a cop show with that setting. Or it could introduce back-and-forth and laws-o-physics complexities to the premise and attempt to explain how the whole thing was happening. And they went with that second one. And it was interesting … but kind of disappointing as well.

    On the other hand, a show like Bright demonstrated how it’s possible to kind of fumble the first approach too – as much as I admired the attempt. So there’s really no safe bet. Maybe that’s the point of aiming so high? Playing it safe is for Disney+.

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