I mentioned in a previous story that Bridge showrunner, Hans Rosenfeldt, has been a busy fellow recently, launching the third series of The Bridge in his native Sweden and across Europe, starting the process of his new British-based crime drama, Marcella, for ITV, and now launching The Bridge III in the UK. Rosenfeldt was present – alongside stars Sofia Helin and Dag Malmberg, as well as producer Anders Landström – for a screening and a Q&A in London yesterday afternoon. So were we.
This third series is only a few weeks away, and the excitement is pretty palpable here in Killing Times Towers. (We don’t actually have towers.) What we know and what we’ve seen is pretty much shown is the first few minutes – a couple of construction workers find a strange scene on one of their sites, a shell of a building in Malmö. On one floor, and in the harsh glare of spotlights, a family tableau has been carefully created. There are three mannequins – one man, one girl and one boy – sat around a table. They all have clown-style smiles painted onto their faces. The ‘family’ has been completed with an actual human, albeit a dead one. This murder victim is Danish woman Helle Anker, a prominent gay LGBT campaigner. There seems to lay the motive, and indeed Rosenfeldt’s theme for the series. We’ve seen him tackle some of Scandinavia’s hottest political and cultural issues in past series, and gender neutrality and social constraints in this area are seemingly the ones he’s chosen to explore in series three.
Once that Witnesses-style set-up is finished (don’t worry, it moves on, quickly), it’s time for THAT music. And then Saga, in THAT Porsche.
And suddenly we’re back into The Bridge.
All the familiar accoutrements are present, which allow us to slip back into it like a glove. And then there is, of course, Saga Norén, and it’s great to see her back on-screen again, striding around in her leather trousers, changing her shirt in the middle of the office and straightaway admonishing everyone in sight for either not working hard enough or well, just not being on her wavelength, all the while giving them the patented quizzical Saga look.
One person who isn’t there is Martin Rohde. Except he is, in a certain way. His presence is felt throughout the episode as Saga, Hans and Saga’s new Danish partner, Hanne, all talk about him.
I think I can speak for everyone else when I say that the show’s fanbase was extremely apprehensive when the news broke that Kim Bodnia would not be back as Martin. Saga and Martin were, without doubt, the best televisual police pairing of the past 20 years. No question. But as the episode unfolded, Martin wasn’t exactly forgotten, but it felt that this new story – and new characters – was a fresh start and allowed Rosenfeldt to really concentrate on Saga: why she is what she is, how she came to be what she is and what her past contains.
This is a testament to Helin’s fine acting and Rosenfeldt’s fine writing that by the end of the episode Martin hasn’t been missed nearly as much as I thought he would. This may change over the course of the series, but this first episode was about Saga and her unraveling mental illness and her past coming back to confront her.
If series two felt like it veered away from the tried-and-trusted murder procedural, this was certainly back on more familiar ground, and absolutely bang on form. And while we’ll miss Martin, I can’t wait to find out more about Saga and all the other seemingly disparate story strands and characters Rosenfeldt introduced in this first, gripping episode.
There was a Q&A at the end of the screening, so here are some of the choicest quotes:
Hans Rosenfeldt on Kim Bodnia/Martin Rohde:
“Kim Bodnia decided to leave the show in April or May (2014). We had the first four scripts with him still in it and the storylines with him still in it. That was a problem – a huge problem – for us. It forced us to think about what The Bridge be without Saga and Martin. And it gave us in end – once we got over the shock – a really good energy, and a good feeling that now we can see this as a possibility to see what new situations we could put Saga in. What could the new partner give her that Martin didn’t give her? It was kind of a blessing in disguise and we got a lot of good things out of it. Fortunately, we had already planned that series three would be more about Saga because Martin had huge personal stories in series one and two.”
Sofia Helin on Kim Bodnia/Martin Rohde:
“It was a hard and difficult process. When we all accepted the fact it was a gift, because it gave us a new energy.”
Hans Rosenfeldt on the Swedish/Danish cultural divide/national stereotypes:
“All Danes think Swedes are like Saga, and all Swedish think the Danes are beer-drinking, whatever-happens-happens type of people. Right at the start we said they should understand what each person is saying, even though in real life we don’t. Since we first started working on this, almost 10 years ago, the two countries have grown apart and gone down different paths. We were more alike 10 years ago than we are today. They think we are very politically correct, while the Danes pride themselves on saying what they like when they like. We have a totally different view on refugees and whether we should bring them into our country, and we have a very different agenda and gender. All of that has changed very, very much during these years, where Sweden is a very politically correct country and we try to address these things and Denmark is not. It’s a requirement from our broadcaster that we should have something called ‘the second story’. When we pitch it was say: ‘this is the story, this is the character, this is the plot’ but they also want to know why we want to show it to Sweden and Denmark in 2015.”
Hans Rosenfeldt on if series three is a re-set:
“If you’ve never seen it before I think you could easily start with series three, and because you understand immediately where Saga is. You don’t really need the back story and don’t really need to know who Martin is. We don’t look back that much. Series two was much more depending on series one.”
Sofia Helin on Saga:
“I love her, I care for her but I can’t stand her. I wouldn’t want to hang out with her personally. The leather trousers and such helps me get into her, but it’s not a good feeling being her. It’s a lot of fun and it’s challenging, but I don’t walk around feeling good. I walk around feeling frustrated and too intense to feel good.”
Hans Rosenfeldt on whether there will be more series:
“From my point of view I think we can go on for as long as we think we can slightly better or as good as the last season. As long as we can think of more stories that we think are worth telling and finding the best way of telling them. As long it’s fun to do it. No, I have a hard time seeing The Bridge without Saga. We had a hard time trying to stay alive after losing one of our main characters, losing the other one would as well would be very difficult.”
For all our news and review on The Bridge, go here