Review: a view from ‘The Bridge’

The Bridge Series 3 aired on BBC 4 between November and December, and given the wait, lasting the best part of two years since Series 2’s dramatic conclusion, expectations were as high as ever. And they did not disappoint. (Cue my début attempt at reviewing, so bear with me here, folks, and needless to say, major spoilers ahead.)

The series saw, of course, another meticulously-planned string of murders, spanning Denmark’s capital and the neighbouring southern Swedish city of Malmö, across the Öresund Bridge. It was the character development of Malmö Police’s Saga Norén (Sofia Helin), however, and her battles with her mother and her family history throughout the series, which engaged the viewer the most, and differentiates it well from the previous two, all for the purpose of deepening our emotional investment in her as the nail-biting grand finale approached.

The eventual killer, Emil Larsson (Adam Pålsson), proved satisfactorily unsettling in his quest to rid the world of the people who had made his life, it can’t be denied, such a misery – although his creepiness may have been somewhat overdone (the same goes for funeral director-come-full-time stalker Annika Melander, who turned out to be Emil’s estranged adoptive sister). 

The series saw a parallel chain of deaths in Saga’s life which led to her mental stability unravelling on screen, with the murder of her boss and good friend Hans providing a link into the criminal investigation. Her personal investment in finding the perpetrator subsequently allowed for a telling scene in the final episode, when tasked with rescuing Emil from his noose alongside his biological father, Freddie Holst, the last person he had sought to murder. Her reluctance to save Emil’s life was wholly uncharacteristic. A similar transgression by her former Danish investigative partner, Martin Rohde led her to report him, one of her closest and only friends, landing him in prison for murder at the end of the previous series. This signals a clear transformation in Saga; she gained emotional penetrability under the pressures of Hans’ murder, her estranged father’s death, and her mother’s staging of her own suicide to make it appear that she had murdered her. 

Related  The Wishing Horse

Additional characters complemented the series well, even if surrogate-mother Jeannette’s young lover Marc were too feckless for words most of the time. How CEO Anna Ekdahl’s affair with the 17 year-old son of her best friend exactly tied in with anything, though, I am still not quite sure.

Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt)’s replacement of Martin as leading Danish detective worked well. While Martin is certainly missed by viewers, Henrik’s gentler approach played out very well alongside Saga, whose increasing reliance on Henrik for support served to flag her inner turmoil to the viewer all the more, while his own over his family’s old disappearance ought not be overlooked.

When Saga returned to the railway track site of her younger sister’s suicide from years previously for the series’ gut-wrenchingly vivid climax of her almost-suicide, I filled with dread. With her life progressively torn apart across the series, it seemed the writers had done their best to make me fall off the edge of my seat with fear for the life of the character I have grown so much to admire. Sofia Helin’s performance of Saga’s critical moments was second to none, while Lindhardt’s portrayal of Henrik’s desperate attempt to convince Saga to choose to live, and aid him in his private investigation of his wife’s newly-confirmed murder, and children’s disappearance was compelling.

Whether the powers that be grant us another series is yet to be seen, but the programme remains one of the best on TV, subtitled or not. Five stars.