So The Bridge is back with a bang, gleefully ramping up the tension, messing with our expectations of Saga and Henrik, all while introducing the usual cast of victims, neer-do-wells, and various hangers-on, some of whom will inevitably be added to the final body count.
We begin with a striking close up of Saga’s face, silent, dark and isolated. She wakes and sighs, remembering she’s in a nightmare she can’t escape from. She’s been in prison since the end of series 3 and I was worried her character development and personal resilience would be set back to zero. Without the job who is she? The scenes in the prison feel slightly generic but Sofia Helin’s frantic performance elevates them. When you think back on the series you tend to focus on the brilliance of the writing or the relationships between the two central characters but it’s the central performance that makes it so engaging. In lesser hands, Saga could come across cold and heartless but Helin knows her character inside and out and brings a heart and a warmth to her that only she can pull off.
On the plus side, it looks like Henrik and Saga’s friends with benefits relationship from series 3 is blossoming despite their very particular and difficult situation. Henrik himself is coping better with life now; no drugs, no relapses. But as soon as he thinks about moving on his missing children are haunting him again.
As for the central murder plot, like Series three, it may end up being the sideshow to Saga and Henrik’s personal life. At this stage though, it’s too early to tell. I’m sure the usual sections of the internet will be outraged that a woman is killed in a shockingly brutal fashion. I know torture porn isn’t healthy and we should demand more from crime writers. But this is series four of an unimaginably successful show. Why would they change the magic formula now?
It always seems daunting to meet so many characters in one hour, but rest assured it’ll be worth it in the end. Here’s a quick rundown of the runners and riders so far:
The victim is Margarethe Thormod and because she’s the Head of Danish Immigration the first suspect is Taariq Shirazi, hiding out in the gay community desperate not to be sent back to a repressive Middle-Eastern regime where he will likely be executed. As Margarethe is stoned to death there’s a religious link for racists and anti-immigrant groups to get worked up about. I’m confident the murderer is not Taariq.
Margarethe’s husband and secretary do look mighty close, as Henrik’s partner Jonas points out. Do either of them have an alibi?
Creepy Patrik is instantly annoying. How does he not realise, especially after #MeToo that it’s not ok to impersonate your brother to sleep with women?
Twin brother Richard looks to be a fairly good journalist doing a difficult job, but the pair are obviously and completely out of their depth investigating this activist group Red October, who I imagine are just about to take the leap into actual out-and-out terrorism. I can’t find any sympathy for these silly boys yet.
Taxi driver Dan is a suspect because he may have been the last person to see Margarethe alive and he’s got previous convictions for violence against women. Dan’s estranged wife and son, Sofie and Christoffer in are hiding from him perhaps in some sort of witness protection. This goes spectacularly wrong extremely quickly!
Sofie’s boss is instantly shifty. He may well turn out to be just as abusive and controlling as her former husband. He wants her to come and live in his remote village, and needs to get the blessing of an older woman for this to happen (his mother maybe?) Are we off into religious cult territory this time around?
And Henrik’s Danish partner Detective Jonas. The 1970s are calling – they want their attitude back. I must admit a certain soft spot for Jonas despite him being awful and clearly a nightmare to work with, especially infamously progressive and tolerant Scandinavia. He has more in common with Gene Hunt from Life on Mars than any other character in modern day policing. Sure he may not be a fan of spaghetti hoops, but his sweater game is strong, and in Scandi noir, that’s very important.
So Episode 1 leaves us absolutely desperate for the next instalment which is a whole week away! For long-standing Scandi fans that’ll take some getting used to after the regular two hour Saturday night Scandi marathons of BBC4. But it can’t be denied – The Bridge is popular enough to deserve a BBC2 slot and if the audience grows because of it, that can only be a good thing for TV drama in general.
Contributed by Sarah Kennedy
The Bridge continues Friday at 9.00pm on BBC Two