The new Danish miniseries on Netflix, “The Nurse,” is short and crisp for a breezy watch, while the shocking content and the fact that it is based on a true event add a grim seriousness to it. Divided into four episodes, each around 40–50 minutes in length, the show is focused more on the dramatic gravity of the whole matter than on any action or legal presentation of the case. However, despite being quite polished in how it tells the story and also having a moving impact, there is not too much new in “The Nurse” either, and the miniseries is good enough for your regular true-crime fix.
The plot of “The Nurse” is centered around a woman named Pernille Kurzmann Larsen, who starts a new job as a nurse at the Nykobing Falster Hospital. Having trained for the profession for many years, all while raising her daughter Alberte by herself, Pernille is excited and nervous in equal measures to start the job. Both the hospital and the town where it is located fall in the lowest positions of Denmark’s health rankings, owing to the fact that the people here are mostly careless and unconcerned about their health, heavily smoking and drinking their lives away. Despite knowing that it is not considered a very good hospital, Pernille is grateful for the job and soon begins her work there. She is allotted to ward number three, where emergency situations and urgent treatment of injuries, lung conditions, and infections are done. At the ward, Pernille is told that she will learn from the very best nurse the hospital has to offer, Christina Aistrup Hansen.
Meeting with Christina and gradually becoming friends with her is an absolute treat for Pernille. Both women are single mothers, therefore relating to each other some more, and Christina is indeed the most popular worker at the hospital. She is a skilled nurse who is able to help patients and doctors out of almost any situation and is able to keep a stable mind even in the most intense of emergencies. Outside of her professional schedule, Pernille learns that Christina is somewhat of a party animal, too, always having a fun night out with her friends. Pernille is quickly made a part of Christina’s closest friends also, as the experienced nurse refers to Pernille and herself as the “Dream Team.”
However, Pernille starts to hear some casual remarks regarding Christina from the other nurses as well. At some time, she too starts to find things odd about her superstar colleague, as Christina does often appear to be too dramatic, attention-seeking, or simply too self-obsessed. It does not take very long for these odd thoughts in Pernille’s mind to turn into a hint of suspicion when a patient who was in a rather stable condition suddenly passes away during the night shift. Pernille starts to add up all the possibilities inside her head, along with the major flaw that the hospital’s system had—no record was kept of the medicines and drugs that were taken by the nurses from the medicine room. The conclusion that Pernille finds herself staring at is equally unbelievable and dangerous, as she suspects the most popular and apparently hard-working nurse in the hospital, Christina Aistrup Hansen, of secretly administering fatal drugs to the patients.
Although the whole matter shown in “The Nurse” sounds too dangerous and therefore fictional, the miniseries is actually based on shocking true events in Denmark. In March of 2015, an actual nurse by the name of Pernille Kurzmann Larsen called up the police in the city of Nykobing Falster to inform them of her suspicion that her colleague, Christina Aistrup Hansen, had apparently murdered three patients and attempted to kill a fourth one. A proper police investigation followed next, and the end result is also mentioned in the very last episode of this miniseries.
It is safe to say that “The Nurse” gets the casting and acting performances quite right, especially in the case of the two central characters—Pernille and Christina. Despite being a series based on true crime events, the work does not paint Pernille’s character as one seeking to desperately stop what is wrong or conniving against Christina, at least for the most part. Instead, most of the time we spend watching Pernille on the screen, she is utterly confused and nervous about the suspicions that grow in her. Despite being sure of Christina’s devilish acts beyond a point, Pernille still has much to do since she has to prove it to the others. In this sense, Fanny Louise Bernth, who plays the protagonist’s role, is very convincing and apt. Even better in her performance is Josephine Park, who plays the role of Christina, who is equally charming and attractive and also has an air of mystery about her. Peter Zandersen, as one of the doctors of the hospital, Niels Lunden, and also the next-most important character, is also decent in his efforts.
It is hard, perhaps almost impossible, not to think of “The Good Nurse” or the very real criminal case of Charles Cullen, who was also a similarly experienced nurse in the United States until he was found guilty of killing numerous patients by overdosing them with medicines. With this similarity in content, both in the real cases as well as the two dramatic retellings, “The Nurse” does, in a way, make one wonder about the bigger question—why would nurses turn devilish against helpless victims, and could there really be any way to stop anyone with such intentions?
Overall, “The Nurse” leaves on a satisfactory note, but a personal qualm I would mention against it is that it skips over the investigative and legal parts of the case altogether. This is, of course, a very intentional and formal decision, but had we been made part of the police investigation that followed, “The Nurse” could have been a more solid and entertaining watch.