When children are in distress in any manner, it is always an issue that stings the heart of the righteous. The Valhalla Murders is a Nordic Noir- a Scandinavian genre written from a police procedural point of view- after Trapped (an absolute must-watch). The Valhalla Murders takes the creative liberty to portray a heartfelt story about helpless children, having no family or guardians, depicting the abject darkness of humanity.
In the late 1940s, based on a real-life incident, an article surfaced in an Icelandic publication. It mentioned a state-sanctioned institution that acted as a home, sheltering troubled children who went on to experience severe child abuse and violence at the hands of the staff.
Brot, the Icelandic name for this series, meaning ‘violation’, explains how two detectives, Kata and Arnar, have to identify victims of abuse with the aid of a picture of a group of boys and three adults, consistently seen as the connection. We see a violent killer on the loose, presumably seeking revenge for the time when he was part of the Valhalla homestay for boys. While battling their darkness, this case becomes tumultuous when outside forces try to leak information or penetrate the investigation, possibly endangering its continuation, consequently making both detectives and their agency work faster to find the person responsible.
‘The Valhalla Murders’ Plot Summary
While the cold lands of Iceland bring us to a dark true story, this modern noir talks about an investigation into the case of a missing boy and a series of murders, that unearths very dark truths about a particular Home for boys, who are a lost cause or lost in general. A detective named Katarin, portrayed by Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir (Trapped), holds a certain resentment towards her superiors for the apparent snub of her promotion. She decides to take the lead on the investigation of the first murder of Thor Ingimarrson, whose eyes have been forcibly removed with surgical precision. But Kata still seems to be stuck with her previous case of a boy who went missing for many years.
The Police Commissioner Magnus admits to being understaffed and calls on another detective to join in, named Arnar Böðvarsson, portrayed by Bjorn Thors, as an accompanying lead detective to help Kata in finding the culprit soon. By this time, two murders occur, putting them on edge to move quickly. These worrisome events lead both detectives, while balancing their inner battles, to discover a certain photograph of a group of boys along with two men and one woman.
After slowly identifying these people one by one, a bag of skeletal remains is found. These remains are published in the newspaper, creating an inevitable media frenzy, outing some more secrets about the case that Kata and Arnar are investigating. While the case is far from over, on further investigation, the remains are identified, 30 years later, to be that of a boy, who had disappeared from a certain Homestay called The Valhalla Home for boys located near Borgarnes.
Police officers Kata and Arnar try to find the records of the missing boys. Still, they realize they can only verify the records of these victims with the physical copies of the same, after the second murder occurs. The second murder victim’s son helps them with this picture as he slowly tells them how horrible the home was, identifying one staff member and one boy, Tomas or who he knew as Tommi.
This sets the two detectives on a course to slowly track and find the people in the picture, and as they do so, they discover that these boys went through horrendous physical abuse almost every day, and the perpetrators went unpunished. The children, when wounded, were never allowed to get help, and their parents never got to see them on those days, making them feel scared, secluded, and alone. As victims recounted these horrific events, some could not speak about it still, being fully grown adults, as the trauma scarred them psychologically.
Does Kata Lead This Case To A Justified Arrest?
After being snubbed for promotion and going through issues with her son, Kata slowly unearths the truth about the Valhalla Boys home, with sheer grit and determination. With Hakon and Arnar’s assistance, the case slowly builds, when the boys who are victims start coming forward to talk about this in an interview that is aired live on TV by a journalist named Selma, who claims that the two victims approached her of their own volition, to expose dark secrets about the home and were ready to talk about it.
The media never stops poking for facts, publicizing the potential suspect in their newspaper, setting a whole new series of events to occur that endangers the life of both Arnar and Kata. At the same time, an innocent, paranoid father of a then missing child kills himself, putting both Arnar and Kata under the tight scrutiny of their respective police agencies. Kata receives counseling and time off while Arnar is asked to leave. The killer of the staff members at The Valhalla boy’s home was never really identified, and no arrests were made by these charges.
Director Thordur Palsson takes us through different character worlds when we submerge ourselves into this particular dark nook of Iceland. His take on this is compassionate and balanced with an icy tone, reflecting that Iceland never really saw any sunlight. The blue tones in the series complement the storyline with cold characters. This bone-chilling story brings to light how when things are unseen, it does not mean it never happened. But circumstantial evidence begins to solidify and finally leads to an expose of the real culprit.
‘The Valhalla Murders’ Ending Explained
When the skeletal remains of Tomas are found, things begin to take a different turn. Suddenly, elements fall in place to push the investigation towards its rightful end. As the evidence starts showing itself, the truth forms after the room where the children were tortured are discovered by Hakon, the Borgarnes police chief. When blood samples are collected and tested for evidence, other things come to light, eventually leading to the reveal that the mastermind behind the raping and torturing of these children is Pétur Alfreðsson, the State Prosecutor who filed the report and generously bribed Magnus (who was not Petur’s accomplice) for his silence.
When Kata finds out Petur is the main culprit, she has a wound on her arm that is the same as what the boys had when they were tortured. Such clear indicators of power delude the powers-that-be to assume they possess a monstrous power over humans, knowing fully well of their own criminal intentions, as recognized by any court of law.
While many wish that justice be served for such events, the story goes that when the children came forward to tell their stories, they were compensated on monetary terms as there was no loss of life or murder that was committed. The killer who murdered the staff working at the Valhalla boys’ home was never found, but they did suspect it to be Tommi’s father, who was heartbroken about his son’s confirmed death after 30 years that the boy went missing. It seems as though some powers can never be turned, and this only bears the ugly face of the system, that we only see consistently through decades of our lifetime.
Director Thordur Palsson’s ingenious take on this true story delivers a stark depiction of what a policeman’s intuition can do for any situation, no matter how small. Everything that remains hidden, if questioned correctly, can be unearthed and exposed. This story is exceptionally well-told and highly recommended to those who are looking for a dark, mysterious tale filled with suspense and thrills. Palsson’s vision delivers true to the victim’s story with a compassionate balance of both sides.
The Valhalla Murders is a 2019 Crime Thriller Television Series created by Thordur Palsson. It is streaming on Netflix.