On October 31, 2018, Anne-Elisabeth Hagen mysteriously disappeared from her home in Norway. A ransom note was the only clue as to where she may be. In Netflix’s new Norwegian true-crime series “The Lørenskog Disappearance,” the unsolved case of billionaire Tom Hagen’s (Terje Strømdahl, “Hodejegerne”) missing wife is explained, leaving the audience wondering: was this truly an abduction, or a domestic homicide?
As the pilot begins, the viewer is informed that while the show is based on true events, some alterations have been made for dramatic effect. More specifically, the story covered in the episodes did occur, but some of the names and dates were changed. Nevertheless, it is a relatively accurate depiction of the disappearance of Anne-Elisabeth.
In the opening shot, the audience glimpses what possibly occurred on the morning of October 31. We see a woman alone in her home being violently attacked by two individuals. They seemingly render her unconscious, put her into a body bag and drive away, leaving only a note behind. After the dramatic buildup, we see that this is just a trial run being executed by the police to test how long the abduction could have taken.
In fact, the only thing detective Jorunn Lakke (Yngvild Støen Grotmol, “All Foreigners Keep Their Curtains Closed”) is sure of is what the ransom note demands: a large payment due in an unusual type of cryptocurrency. Yet, after communicating via Bitcoin transactions, the kidnappers’ delayed responses bring into question whether their motivation was actually monetary.
The show’s first episode is extremely engaging, especially for those who enjoy crime-related television. Initially, non-Norwegian-speakers may be slightly deterred by the idea of subtitles, but the plot is easy to follow and the suspenseful nature of the series never dissipates.
In the beginning of the pilot, Lakke not only itches to find answers but inevitably feels sorrow for Anne-Elisabeth’s husband and children, which humanizes the violent story. However, Tom’s hesitation to comply with the police, and the fact that Anne-Elizabeth was unhappy in her marriage, causes Lakke’s pity to shift to skepticism — and so does the audience’s. By the end of the episode, the viewer cannot help but feel conflicted about who and what to believe.
To add to this confusion, we see the internal struggles Lakke faces as she leads her first big case. With a ransom note that specifically warns against police and media involvement, she is unsure what the most effective course of action is and whether it will put Anne-Elisabeth’s life in jeopardy. This uncertainty is contagious, leaving the viewer to wonder what they would do in her place.
“The Lørenskog Disappearance” not only tells a gripping story but does it artfully, making the audience engrossed within the first few minutes. Undoubtedly, by the end of the pilot, you will be just as dedicated to cracking this case as Lakke. Luckily, the series is only five episodes long, making it that much easier to become a sleuth yourself.
Daily Arts Writer Molly Hirsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.