Review: The Bridge (E1&2/10), Saturday 21st November, BBC4

Programme Name: The Bridge - TX: n/a - Episode: The Bridge - series 3 - ep 2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Saga Norén (SOFIA HELIN) - (C) Filmlance International AB - Photographer: Carolina Romare

(C) Filmlance International AB – Photographer: Carolina Romare

The long-awaited return of The Bridge marks a complete shift in dynamics, as Saga Norén (Sofia Helin), having shopped her colleague Martin over the murder of his son’s killer, now has no support or friends left – and more to the point, no one to compensate for her lack of moral compass and her inability to handle social interactions. This development will give us the chance to delve deeper into Saga’s psyche, and learn more about her family and the suicide of her sister.

Saga hasn’t changed at all – she’s still driving her battered Porsche 911 like a learner, she’s still snapping at her colleagues and she’s still far more observant than any of them. But it’s her colleagues who identify missing fertility clinic boss Helle Anker when she’s found dead on a building site, posed in a bizarre family tableau with her face painted like a clown, a bit Joker-like.

Since the victim is Danish, Saga is assigned a Danish partner, Hanne Thomsen (Kirsten Olesen), an older woman who is less than happy at the assignment. Anker was a prominent gender activist, and Hanne describes her as ‘a bit Swedish’ – ie ‘politically correct’ – immediately putting Saga’s back up.

Saga and Hanne go to question the dead woman’s wife – Hanne has to stop the tactless Saga from showing off pictures of the dead woman, posed at a table with three mannequins like a family group. In a later phonecall she tactlessly gives away the fact that the victim’s heart was removed. How unlike Cassie, played by Nicola Walker in Unforgotten, whose questioning though persistent was so sensitive and sympathetic.

Was the murder connected to Helle’s plan to set up a gender-neutral pre-school, as the toys in the tableau might suggest? And was Helle’s son Morten, a traumatised, isolated Afghanistan veteran, somehow involved?

Saga’s attempts to make small-talk are soon shut down – if she wanted someone to talk to, Hanne tells her, she shouldn’t have sent Martin to jail.

We’re introduced to a few other possible suspects – anti-feminist blogger Lise Andersen, her kleptomaniac cleaner, an unfaithful husband, a recently-released criminal – before some progress is made in the case, when Saga’s boss Pettersson finds the kidnap scene in a shipping compound – but why there? Is transport boss Anderson implicated?

Saga’s all fired up to spend the night watching surveillance tapes – she doesn’t see why her colleague shouldn’t, since as she points out, he’s recenly divorced and his ex-wife has the kids that week. She’s all heart.

Pettersson is celebrating his three-month wedding anniversary , but Saga reminds him that Martin’s been in jail for six months, and has another 9-1/2 years to go. She refuses to visit him – she says she can’t associate with murderers, but says she has no regrets about turning him in. Is it that she has no feelings for him, or, as she claims, that she can’t allow herself feelings? She’s almost Spock-like in her refusal to admit to any human emotions.

No wonder then, that when Hanne is maimed in an explosion at Morten’s mobile home, Saga just wants to carry on working; but when she’s sent home, her barmy mother is waiting for her, telling her that her father is dying. Saga starts to crack up, Morten’s on the run, and a new Danish liaison has to be assigned – Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt), who we’ve previously seen to be a smooth philanderer. What on earth will he make of Saga?

In episode two, blogger Lise condemns churchman Fabian Christensen for condoning gay marriages in church, and he’s the next victim of the clown killer; he’s taken in his car, and found strangled in a playground, his face decorated with the same smile, which Saga describes as an emoticon rather than a clown face.

Saga is more traumatised by the appearance of her mother than by the bombing; she tells Pettersson that she hasn’t seen her parents for 20 years because of the way they abused her and her sister. Her mother presents her with her dead sister Jennifer’s medical records, and Saga’s perturbed when the records show no sign of abuse.

Saga questions Sabroe about his sex life, though it’s not at all clear whether she approves of his philandering – we know she’s inclined to occasional bouts of meaningless sex herself. He asks her out for dinner, but she explains that she ‘doesn’t like social activities’ – well that’s more honest than ‘I’m washing my hair.’ He describes her to his wife as having ‘no boundaries and no sense of humour’, which is about right.

The two go to question blogger Lise, but it’s Sabroe who makes he connection that Lise is married to transport boss Anderson. Lise seems to rather enjoy the idea that Helle’s murder took place in one of her husband’s trucks.

Ex-convict Aleks tries to recover hidden loot, but his former partners try to have him bumped off; then Pettersson is kidnapped, taken from the police garage. Are the two incidents connected, as Pettersson put Aleks away?

Aleks is questioned to no avail, and Saga tries to comfort Pettersson’s wife, offering her a hug, which is understandably declined; actually, Saga isn’t so much like Star Trek’s half-human, half-Vulcan Mr Spock, she’s more like The Next Generation’s Data, an android trying to imitate human behaviour. She still isn’t very good at it.

In fact, it is Aleks who is holding Pettersson, intending to demand a ransom so he can help his family; but when he finds that his wife has moved in with one of his criminal colleaagues, the plan falls apart. When someone breaks in and shoots Aleks, though, it isn’t the cops; Pettersson has fallen into the hands of the clown killer.

It looks like this series is going to stand or fall on whether we warm to Sabroe, and that will depend on whether he warms to Saga. We’ll miss Martin forever, and Johnny Depp-lookalike Thure Lindhart may be no substitute; but the promise of finding out more about Saga’s troubled upbringing may distract us from tackling the Sabroe problem for now.

As the the Clown Killer case, all we can predict is, the answer lies in the fertility clinic. Someone is not who or what they seem.

Chris Jenkins

For all our news and reviews on The Bridge, go here


4 thoughts on “Review: The Bridge (E1&2/10), Saturday 21st November, BBC4

  1. Mike

    You will end up loving her new partner. I am waiting for episode 10, so almost done. I actually think series 3 is as good if not better than the first two.


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