So, here we are after 38 episodes, two police partners and countless dead bodies, our final hour with Saga.
An urgent message about the identity of the killer is left in an in-tray of a man who is on some sort of compassionate leave. Not a detail everyone will have noticed, but it makes administrators livid. So our professional runaways Julia and Ida are back on the run from Niel’s mild-mannered assistant Susanne Winter. Back in the day she also answered to Steph, and was having an affair with tragic Tommy as a lot of people suspected by the end of the last episode. Prior to that, she flew under the radar throughout the series, but she’s a badass brutal thug, with a taser! Tasing kids in the middle of suburbia in broad daylight and stuffing them in the boot of a car, with zero concern for nosey neighbours hiding behind their net curtains.
Luckily for the girls, Saga’s presence of mind is like nothing else on earth. She’s just been shot but she finds her gun and takes out Susanne’s moving car. It’s interesting to me how Steph/Susanne has hidden so well behind a respectable mousy exterior, perhaps assisted by the European stereotypes of being an Asian woman. Her carefully constructed identity jars with the idea that she would be boastful, keeping trophies as Saga mentions and as the police find in the prop department, I mean, flat. Also, we all know the case can’t be wrapped up neatly with a bow on top in just 20 minutes.
With the girls out of harm’s way, we get another elegant call back to episode one. Saga’s Orange Is the New Black attacker helps reveal the last piece of the puzzle. She was blackmailed into the attempt on Saga’s life. Then we find out the photos of her daughter were all taken from a seated position just as Tommy’s son Kevin/Brian turns up at Henrik’s door. Like in a Brother’s Grimm nursery rhyme we yell out “Don’t answer the door!” because that man is a real-life wolf. Especially not to someone offering alcohol-free wine! What’s the point?
Oh Kevin – we’d spotted you were a wrong’un from the very start. He was up there on our list as just as creepy as Frank, those two performances played beautifully as mild-mannered kindly men with a hint of menace just under the surface. Very timely characters in the wake of #MeToo. But Kevin seemed kinder and weaker than Frank. He was so badly damaged physically and emotionally we gave him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was just looking earnestly for a friend and Henrik was that man. Turns out he was playing the longest long game – his back and legs had healed but his mind was warped. He demands Henrik watch as he shoots Astrid in the head -“I’ll maim her until you look up”. Wow! Saga is the simple, brave resolution to this stand-off. I was shell-shocked as she came barreling into the house. I knew Kevin’s ending would be brutal but didn’t expect it to be quite so simple.
Silas the gay bar owner was forced to drive the van and dig up Hans at gunpoint. His death wasn’t part of the master plan, and he wasn’t a willing conspirator. Phew – at least one character is redeemed.
Steph says she wanted to involve Nicole with the case, so took the car used in Margarethe’s death from Tobias’ garage. There’s no other connection to the family Sonning.
Goodbye to Julia and Ida. I do have a soft spot for them, after all they’ve been through. Why can’t they go and live in Henrik’s home for wayward teenagers? Astrid could probably do with the company.
I reached the absolute limit with Jonas when he pointed out to Lillian that the case was “solved under my command”.It was a delight to watch the rug pulled from under his feet. No, you won’t be attending the press conference. The top brass want to have a little word about the leaks to the press and Douglas the private investigator. So long Jonas! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Poor messed-up Astrid still thinks of home as the village. Henrik gets some classic words of comfort from Saga “You must be like a stranger to her”. Astrid’s invite to Henrik to visit Anna’s grave is so gentle “Come”. He is open, affectionate, emotional. Astrid is none of those things. Can she cope with all this? Saga suggests dissociative identity disorder. This is why Astrid has been creeping me out “playing a role”. She’s not playing Henrik false, she’s just using the coping mechanisms that helped her survive over so many years apart.
Saga and Henrik are back on good terms, having shoved a few more skeletons in the closet and leaned heavily on the door handle to make it close. “We’re so f**ked up,” says Henrik. “We’ve managed quite well” counters Saga, perhaps with new clarity from her therapy sessions, “I think we’re good”. Saga’s joy at sex with Henrik again is lovely. She craves intimacy, on her own terms.
So to the crux of Saga as a character and a human being. Her therapist asks about her overwhelming sense of guilt at not spotting her sister Jennifer was suicidal. Hidden emotions and illogical motivations being something Saga always finds extremely difficult to spot in people. She switched from a career in microbiology to the police force out of guilt. If Saga were free from obligations to her past who would she choose to be? What would any of us do in this situation? Would we have the guts to start again?
She’s still determined to solve Jennifer’s case. There’s such emotion when Munchausen’s is confirmed by her lovely loyal pathologist friend. It’s desperately sad that Henrik had no time for her (“I just wanted to tell someone!”) but better to learn that now than months down the line. Astrid is his priority, and that’s exactly as it should be. And yet, for his daughter’s sanity, he’s willing to accept Frank as part of her life, determined to do the right thing by her whatever the emotional cost to himself. This is not junkie Henrik talking – this is his old self, the man he was when his daughters were young.
The final scenes are full of poignancy with Saga quite literally throwing away her personal crutches and saying goodbye to her old life. My heart was in my boots when she stopped the car on the bridge (THE Bridge of course, where else? Full circle – back to the beginning) but she’s there to throw away emotional baggage, nothing more tragic. When she answered the phone without her full title I wanted to cheer. I see she’s keeping the Porsche, at least for the time being. That seems only right.
The ending was huge as expected, and satisfying, as promised – an unashamedly emotional moment, a bit of a pay-off for all the trauma inflicted on our hearts over the past 6 years. It’s big on emotions, but short on facts, deftly deflecting any plot holes or complications. How did Brian/Kevin and Steph/Susanne find each other and plan all this? Was Grandma involved? How did Taariq know Marcus Sonning? What’s going to happen to gangster William now his daughter is dead? Will Harriet continue her experiment in the utopian ideal? Will Saga move in? I think they’d get on fine together, arguing about philosophy and human nature all night long.
Contributed by Sarah Kennedy