Created by Stefan Jaworski and directed by Roni Ezra for Netflix, ‘Elves,’ also known as ‘Nisser,’ is a horror drama show that revolves around Josefine Svane and her family as they visit the eerie island of Årmandsø. After Josefine finds and nurses a baby elf back to health, chaos is unleashed as the flesh-eating forest elves attack the islanders. The Danish-language series interestingly combines the genres of family drama and supernatural horror.
Against the usually cozy backdrop of Christmastime, the Svanes encounter dangerous situations and fear for their lives in Årmandsø. As the season progresses, we begin to cherish Josefine’s bond with Kee-Ko but also balk at her increasingly stubborn and impulsive decisions. If you’re curious about ‘Elves’ season 1 recap and ending, you’ve come to the right place! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Elves Season 1 Recap
The season opens with Møller, a resident of Årmandsø, leaving a cow outside an electrified fence; the cow is promptly attacked by a strange creature. Afterward, we meet Josefine, a teenager who is going to Årmandsø for a Christmas vacation with her parents, Mads and Charlotte, and her older brother, Kasper.
After reaching Årmandsø, Josefine’s parents are advised to take the coastal road but they drive through a forest instead. Their car hits something and Mads discovers a black gooey substance on the car’s bumper. Josefine sees more of the same in the grass nearby, leading to the fence. However, Møller shows up and rudely asks them to continue on their way and stay away from the fence.
At their log cabin, the Svanes begin to unwind. However, Josefine wanders away from the cabin and finds an abandoned barn. She later asks her parents to take her to the fence because they may have hit an animal there with their car; however, they firmly say no. At night, Josefine sneaks out and cycles to the fence. In the grass, she finds a small creature — a baby elf — with its leg bleeding. She bundles it up in her jacket and takes it to the barn.
The next morning, Josefine takes some food and first aid for the elf. Møller and Anders sacrifice another cow to placate the elves. Kasper finds Josefine with the baby elf but promises not to rat her out. However, Møller spies on the Svane kids and discovers their secret. He rushes back to get Anders but, upon arriving at the fence, his friend’s decapitated head is thrown at his car. Clearly, the elves are attacking humans because their baby is with Josefine.
The townsfolk have a meeting and Karen promises them that peace will be restored between the elves and the humans. Meanwhile, Josefine names the elf Kee-Ko. Later, Karen invites the Svanes for coffee. Josefine asks Karen about the fence, and the older lady talks about the abandoned sawmill and humankind’s exploitation of nature, without mentioning the elves.
Josefine snoops around Karen’s house and overhears a conversation between her and Møller; she realizes that they are planning to take Kee-Ko away. She rushes back to the barn but Møller drives away with Kee-Ko in a sack. Josefine follows his car on her cycle. When Møller opens the fence for a moment to free Kee-Ko, Josefine quietly slips out into the forest.
Meanwhile, the Svanes realize that Josefine is missing. Kasper tries to tell them his sister is only trying to nurse an elf they injured. The Svane parents drive to the fence and send Kasper to retrieve the key from Karen; however, she refuses to help. However, Liv takes the keys and joins Kasper. Meanwhile, Josefine finds the abandoned sawmill. When a full-grown elf attacks her, she accidentally turns on the sawing machine and kills it.
A brawl breaks out after Møller arrives — the electrified fence gets damaged and Møller gets injured. Charlotte snatches his keys, opens the fence, and runs into the forest. In the forest, Kee-Ko shows Josefine the way out and she is reunited with Charlotte. As the mother and daughter escape, the elves begin to attack the unelectrified fence.
Liv and Kasper discover that the fence has a breach but have to stay put for the night to avoid the elves. Meanwhile, Josefine apologizes to her parents. Karen reveals that the elves have never escaped before and asks Mads and Møller to re-electrify the fence. Liv explains to Kasper the sacredness of their land and why she cannot leave. Then, Karen, Charlotte, and Josefine hide in the barn as the elves start entering the town. On the other hand, Mads is forced to abandon Møller when he gets ambushed by two elves. We find out that the elves are attacking because Josefine killed one of them; Karen convinces her that only she can save them.
Elves Season 1 Ending: Do the Elves Kill Josefine?
Karen drugs Josefine and chains her to a pole in the forest, offering her up as a sacrifice to the elves. However, Kee-Ko appears and helps Josefine in digging up the pole. Møller, Liv, and Kasper arrive as well. However, Karen points a rifle at them, warning them not to free Josefine. Kee-Ko attacks Karen and Liv frees Josefine. As the group runs away, Karen’s body is devoured by elves. Josefine begs Kee-Ko to come with her, but the baby elf doesn’t move. Their car is attacked by elves on the way back but they all survive the ordeal; the fence is re-electrified as well.
Later, we see the Svanes getting ready to go back home. Josefine reconnects with her mother and cries over Kee-Ko. When Møller gives her the go-ahead, Liv decides to join the Svanes and finally escape from Årmandsø. Thus, Josefine is not killed by the elves as she is saved by her family and Kee-Ko. However, what she is unaware of is that a familiar baby elf is hiding under her parent’s car.
Why Are the Elves Behind the Fence? Why Do They Start Attacking Humans?
Although Karen lies and states that the fence is to cordon off the poisoned sawmill land, the truth is that the fence separates the flesh-eating elves from the humans and the forest from the town. After the humans destroyed the forests for timber and paid dearly for it thanks to the elves, 15 years ago, a treaty was established which allowed the elves their forest land and the humans their safety. The fence stops elves, who live underground, from attacking unannounced and humans from wandering away from their territory. The islanders also regularly offer cattle as sacrifices to further avoid bloodshed.
Since elves are a part of nature and existed long before humans, the islanders can do nothing but keep the two groups physically divided. Some magic might be at work as well, forcing the humans and elves to live together on the same land but in separate areas. The elves start attacking the islanders after Josefine takes Kee-Ko and later kills a full-grown elf. The elves believe in the power of revenge and balance and thus kill humans every time their own are stolen or murdered.
Why Doesn’t Karen Let Liv Leave Årmandsø? Is Karen Dead or Alive?
Through Liv’s conversations with Kasper we realize that Karen prevents Liv from leaving Årmandsø. Liv wishes to go to Copenhagen but Karen believes that the islanders are connected to nature and that it is their duty to protect it. She even dismisses the charms of cities, highlighting their smokey and smelly atmosphere.
Karen expects Liv to take up her role after her death; in fact, Liv never even attended school as her grandmother taught her the ways of the world. It seems as though a curse of sorts might follow those who leave Årmandsø. Karen even damages the radio to avoid Liv from seeking outside help when the elves attack — perhaps outsiders finding out about the elves can cause some kind of magical damage.
Karen shifted to Årmandsø from Copenhagen and spent almost her entire life with her now-late husband on the island. Since Liv’s parents were killed by elves, it could be that Karen wants her only living relative to be close to her by submitting to the terrifying but familiar forces of nature. Additionally, we know that she almost worships the powers of nature, in a way the Svanes or Liv never will. Although we see the elves ripping into Karen’s flesh, she’s still breathing. However, it’s likely that Karen is dead since it seems impossible to survive being eaten alive.
Does Kee-Ko Go With Josefine?
In the finale, we see Josefine crying because she is leaving Kee-Ko behind. However, in the final shot, we see Kee-Ko hanging on to the underside of the Svanes’ car, on the ferry leaving Årmandsø. Thus, Kee-Ko decides to go with Josefine but she isn’t aware of it just yet. Kee-Ko, clearly touched by Josefine’s love and friendship, abandons a life with elves to venture out into the world. Although Josefine will be overjoyed to see the baby elf, Kee-Ko’s presence indicates that the elves will continue to come after the islanders and the Svanes.
Read More: Elves Filming Locations