‘Beforeigners’: The Dangers of Taking Time Travel Seriously | TV


Time travel has always posed some pretty serious problems. The protagonist of Stephen King’s novel 22/11/63 who tries to avoid the murder of JFK by moving from the present explains that the past rebels to avoid being changed, unleashing all kinds of accidents. Marty McFly in Return to the future He almost ended up making out with his mother in the past and disappearing even before he was born. Characters that travel from the Middle Ages to the present in Visitors Were Not Born Yesterday! they provoke a series of considerable space / time paradoxes and are about to be stranded in their future.

In its first season the Norwegian series Beforeigners (The visitors), released in 2019, it dispensed with all those games that characterize most time travel stories to offer a plot as simple as it is attractive: without further explanation, characters from all eras begin to appear in the 21st century, causing a temporary refugee crisis. The coexistence between the customs of the ancient Vikings – the protagonist, played by Krista Kosonen, comes from those remote times and speaks ancient Norwegian – becomes a challenge for a society, theoretically tolerant and open like Norway. The parallels with the 2015 refugee crisis were clear and well drawn.

Halfway between crime history, science fiction and comedy, the series was funny, surprising and entertaining. His plot was not based on special effects, but on an ingenious script and some wonderful characters, especially the Viking protagonist who becomes a police officer in the present. It was inevitable that its creators Anne Bjornstad and Eilif Skodvin, responsible for Lilyhammer, a funny Netflix series about an American gangster who lands in a small Norwegian town, they offered a second season, which HBO Max recently premiered and from which you can see four of the six chapters that make up the season.

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An image from the second season of 'Beforeigners'.
An image from the second season of ‘Beforeigners’.

However, the new installment is tempted to play with all the possibilities that time travel offers and a simple and fun narrative turns into a considerable mess, in which Jack the Ripper appears, a king Viking and many other subplots in which the characters, and with them the viewers, are lost. It is true that a series based on an ingenious idea is always going to disappoint something in the second season because the surprise factor disappears. And it is also true that the new chapters offer very funny moments: the wit of the writers remains. But it is inevitable to feel a certain disappointment as the episodes progress and the corridors of time through which the characters circulate begin to become labyrinths. The temptation to take time travel too seriously can lead to many problems.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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