True crime stories are always intriguing to watch. It takes the actual event from several years ago and presents it in a manner that would help us understand what exactly happened when the incident occurred. It takes us through details that many did not bother to know about. The Nurse, a Danish Netflix Original limited series, gives us a gripping tale of a woman who gathered the courage to bring a disturbing pattern of incidents that is happening in her place of work to everyone’s attention. Will she bear the brunt of speaking the truth?
The Nurse starts from the year 2012 in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark. An elderly gentleman named Arne faints in his home, and he is admitted to the Nykøbing Falster emergency ward. Arne is slowly recovering, and he is told that he will be discharged the very next day. But on the night before his discharge, someone gives him a fatal dose of a medicine he is not supposed to take, and because of this, he ends up dying of heart failure. Arne’s brother Kenny has been informed of his bereavement. Kenny is informed that his brother committed suicide because he had injected himself with a high dosage of morphine and diazepam. He is also informed that Arne was on an antidepressant as well. The Nurse begins on a sad note, and it is easy to analyze what the show is about. Pernille Kurzmann is a young single mother who has moved to this city after finishing her nursing course to take up a job at the emergency ward of Nykøbing Falster Hospital. As her work begins, she is given night shifts, which would mean working with star nurse Christina Aistrup Hansen. She is known for saving many lives in the emergency ward, and Pernille feels honored to be working with a nurse who is experienced and liked by the doctors. Pernille and Christina become good friends and they like to work with each other. Their team is called the dream team. Pernille learns a lot from her, but she also notices the kind of high Christina gets from saving patients, which she thinks is kind of unnatural.
Pernille also starts dating Dr. Niels Lundén, who works at her hospital and lets him know of the kind of work Christina is doing at the hospital, which she finds odd. Niels asks her not to ponder over it, but her colleagues have a different story to tell about Christina. It is hard not to suspect Christina as Pernille starts seeing many patients die of heart failure even though they had no serious heart condition on admission. There are discrepancies in the medicine stock, plus she notices extra syringes dumped in the trash. Pernille is quick to conclude that Christina is up to something, but she doesn’t know what the woman is doing. Pernille is scared to approach the authorities, let alone her boyfriend, but she knows she will have to take some action. Pernille begins digging, and she unearths a lot of information, but will she be able to stand up to Christina?
The Nurse sets up the plot brilliantly when, in detail, it showcases how someone injects an unknown medicine into Arne’s system. It starts with the intrigue that either someone from the hospital has committed a crime or that Arne is a wanted man who was killed by somebody. Since the story is based on true events that transpired in Denmark, it is interesting to see how the medical and healthcare systems worked in that country. The authorities remained clueless about what was happening in their establishment and did not bother to question anyone. Even though Arne’s death happened because of the high intake of the two different kinds of drugs, the hospital administration did not try to find out which Nurse was meant to supervise or take care of Arne. Blaming Arne for committing suicide comes across as a way to get rid of a case of medical negligence by the hospital authorities. All of this has been covered in detail in The Nurse thanks to a strong screenplay that does not digress from the main plot, which is focused on finding out who did the crime and why they did it.
Writers Kasper Barfoed, Dorte Warnøe Høgh, Jacob Katz Hansen, Thomas Porsager, and Marie Østerbye make sure to pack in enough drama that is required to tell the audience in detail about what kind of crime was going on in the hospital without getting too much into the medical jargon. The language of the nurses and doctors was easy to follow. In four episodes, the writers managed to tell the story of Pernille’s personal life, the crime that she was investigating on her own, and the friendship that she shared with people at the hospital. The screenplay is compact, and the writers made sure to keep it to the point because if they had gone off track, The Nurse would have become too lengthy. They stuck to telling the story of the crime and who committed it. It did not deviate much from the life of the perpetrator, and it did not justify why the person committed the crime in the first place. The investigation until the criminal is arrested is one hell of a ride for the story, and the narrative becomes engaging, creates tension, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The runtime of each episode also contributed to the pacing of the show. The narrative and the screenplay are well-developed, which kept The Nurse engaging till the end.
A good screenplay such as this one allows the director to work around the characters and give us a glimpse into what happens in a hospital on a day-to-day basis. Kasper Barfoed’s direction kept the pacing intact, and there was hardly any issue with the screenplay seeming erratic. The story in The Nurse goes back and forth between 2012 and 2014–15 to talk about what was happening in the hospital all this time. The direction does not confuse the audience when the story jumps between these years. It allows the narrative to make more sense and move forward.
The characters are also well developed, and it does not seem half-baked because the story could have turned the antagonist into a purely villain-ish person, but that is not the case in this matter. Christina’s character is well-developed, and she does come across as someone who has many shades of gray in her that makes her behave a certain way. Pernille, too, goes from being a diligent worker to a woman on a mission. It is good to see the strength she gathers to face the truth and finally report it. The tension built in the finale episode is excellent to watch. There is a genuine fear of whether the culprit will be caught or not. The performances of the leads, Fanny Louise Bernth and Josephine Park as Pernille and Christian, respectively, thanks to their well-structured characters, could give them the complexity required to pull off these roles. They are single mothers, and they have had their struggles all their lives, and the actors do an excellent job of bringing those emotions onto the screen.
The Nurse is an excellent watch from the start till the end because it does not lag in the pacing department, and in just four episodes, it gives us one of the most gripping tales of true crime that took place in Denmark. Netflix did it again with this fantastic limited series. A must-watch.