And so it started. One of the most eagerly awaited crime dramas finally got going on BBC4 last night, to stunning effect. The build up to this third series of The Bridge produced so many questions, mainly variations on ‘how would we cope without Martin?’, but the series answered them in resounding fashion. Here are five things I took away from those first two episodes.
Saga is Saga, but even more so
Saga was bang on form last night right from the get-go (and when I mean form, I mean abrasive, supercilious and loveably detached), but it was her interactions with her new partners Hanne Thomsen and Henrik Sabroe that brought out the best (or worst) in her. Her relationship with Thomsen was testy (Thomsen blaming her for Martin’s incarceration) and her questioning of Henrik about his murky sex life was classic, no-boundaries Saga. She also shared a ‘non-erotic hug’ with Hans and then tried to offer one to Lillian, which was refused. Oh Saga, still learning. Of course, we know that all of Saga’s social fails and constructed realities are put in place in order to keep control of a world around her that has been very cruel to her. The world began to strike back in episodes one and two. First, when Saga and Hanne approached Morten Anke’s shack it resulted in a booby-trapped bomb and sickening injuries to Hanne. It was a stunning, shock of a scene and a bloodied Saga was plunged into a world of guilt and confusion as she staggered away. On returning home, her mother – a mother she hadn’t seen for 20 years after the death of her sister, Jennifer – harangued her. Saga rushed into her (gorgeous) apartment and went straight to a book case, the psychological impact of Hanne’s maiming and the reappearance of her mother sending our favourite Scandi detective into a twitching, panting meltdown. She frantically arranged and re-arranged the books on the shelf, battling hard to gain some sort of control over her world again. It was fabulously acted by Sofia Helin, serious well played. But that wasn’t all that the world had to throw at Saga in these episodes – she sought the advice of the gravel-voiced pathologist (we still haven’t got a name for him yet) to go through her sister Jennifer’s medical reports to confirm her long-held theory that it was her parents who pushed her to suicide. This confirmation didn’t come, and her reaction was disbelief, anger and pain. it was as close to wracking great sobs that we’ve seen from her. Saga also lost the one, true friend in the force she had – her boss, Hans, who was abducted, first by Aleks and then by the Clown Killer himself. She’s beginning to unravel at pace.
Martin was mentioned, but not missed (that much)
In the lead-up to this third series it was almost impossible to imagine the series without Martin Rohde. His relationship with Saga Norén was the backbone of the show, why we cared about the characters so much and, of course, a counterpoint that provided plenty of narrative tension. The greatest compliment to Hans Rosenfeldt I can give is that after last night’s opening two episodes he wasn’t missed. We had Saga, her TWO new partners, loads of new characters and strands to sink our teeth into and some grisly crimes to boot.
Hans Rosenfeldt’s plotting is as tight as a drum
As I mentioned earlier, you have to take your hat off to Hans Rosenfeldt. These opening two episodes were full of intrigue, short, sharp scenes that set off at a cracking pace and a cast of intriguing new characters. He obviously knew the audience would be mourning the loss of Martin, but with Saga being Saga and all this extra STUFF the strength of the story had to not only grab our attention but also make us forget. He pulled it off with aplomb. Rosenfeldt also likes to tackle contemporary cultural issues, which gives The Bridge its richness, and in this third series he focused on gender equality, right-wing bloggers, post-Afghanistan war PTSD and even religion. All these thematic strands felt believable, never forced.
Yes, we had the Ankes (Helle and Morten), belligerent blogger Lise Friis Andersen, her mysterious odd-job man, released convict Aleks (whose storyline was wrapped up fairly swiftly) and Saga’s mother. They comprised the new cast of characters this story would revolve around, but the real intrigue came when brilliant Danish policeman Henrik was partnered with Saga. He was seemingly happily married with kids, but sneaked out of his home late at night to have sex with random women. He also popped pills at will, but why? If Martin was loveably garrulous and flawed, there seems to be an agenda with the guarded Henrik. Keep your eye on him.
Just, The Bridge
With everything that went on – and there was a lot to digest – it was just so good to have this show back. It felt like Rosenfeldt and Sofia Helin, especially, raised their game to almost new levels. It was a sensational start.