The Bridge (S3 E9&10/10), Saturday 19th December, BBC4

Programme Name: The Bridge - TX: 19/12/2015 - Episode: The Bridge - series 3 - ep 9 (No. 9) - Picture Shows: *Please credit photographer: Carolina Romare Saga Norén (SOFIA HELIN) - (C) Filmlance International AB - Photographer: Carolina Romare
(C) Filmlance International AB – Photographer: Carolina Romare

With Saga on suspension after her procedural shambles, Sabroe is left to find the killer of Hans – but can he do it when his own mental state is teetering on the brink? To make matters worse, he’s been given Jimmy Carr (sorry, Rasmus Larssen) as a partner – Larssen has been dogging Saga’s heels, and may be responsible for her being charged with the murder of her own mother. In the light of our heroes’ problems, the Clown Killer case seems almost incidental.

Jeanette has been taken by the Clown Killer and has given birth; but who has the child, loopy Annika? Or is she already dead at the hands of Sandberg?

Freddie finds Jeanette through a transmitter in her phone, but there’s no clue as to who held her or where the child is. Sabroe uses this as an excuse to force Linn to recall Saga, so her suspension has stuck for about three hours. Freddie’s wife Asa thinks that her ex-husband, Sandberg, has the child; but he had no connection to some of the murder victims. When his flat is searched a gun is found though.

Saga examines the doll’s house found in Annika’s basement; it contains models of the murders, and one unfamiliar scene – the planned murder of Freddie? He’s lured to a meet by a photo of the baby, but followed by Saga, so the killer doesn’t show.

Investigating the identity of Annika’s biological father, Saga and Sabroe go to question Freddie, who denies all knowledge of her, and they have an excruciating discussion about sex matters on the way. Again, we ask ourselves why Saga needs sex, when she doesn’t seem to understand it.

Freddie, implausibly, is allowed to talk to Jeanette in hospital; equally implausibly, she can’t shed any light on who took her. Sandberg turns up, denying any knowledge of Annika’s whereabouts, and any connection with the murders.

Murder victim Morten Anker turns up on Freddie’s CCTV tapes, rambling about his real father; again, we suspect that everything must trace back to a fertility clinic – and victim Helle worked at one.

Saga and Sabroe return to the warehouse where Jeannette was held, and find Annika bound and unconscious in another building, which contains a recreation of the basement of the murder victim Johansson’s home. So who lived there? The other foster children claim to know nothing about it.

Freddie gets another photo of the baby – is no-one monitoring his phone? – and sets off for a meeting, hotly pursued by Rasmus. Freddie gives his minders the slip in what must be Sweden’s oldest helicopter, and makes the meet, where he encounters Emil Larsson (the employee at his art gallery who tipped the police to the connection between the murders and Freddie’s paintings). Emil has the baby and a gun, and greets Freddie as his father.

Sabroe is at the fertility clinic, and realises that the mysterious number code relates to an insemination – Freddie donated the sperm, and the mother was an Anna-Maria Larsson.

So we were right all along, the literal genesis of the case was in a fertility clinic; but quite who is related to who, and which of them was doing the killing, we still can’t quite say. We’re convinced, though, that a tycoon with as much dosh as Freddie would have both a better haircut and a more expensive helicopter.

In the finale, Rasmus interrupts the encounter between Freddie and Larsson, and gets shot for his trouble. He survives – he was wearing a vest – but gets a bollocking from Linn.

Annika is now conscious, and reveals that she had met Emil, with whom she was fostered, but he must have drugged her and framed her for the murders. Saga tactlessly reveals that Sandberg seemed rather pleased when Annika disappeared.   

Freddie wakes up bound and threatened by Larsson, but escapes with the child, only to find himself in a desolate marshland; investigating the Johanssons’ home, Saga finds a painting which leads her to the spot (in a much better helicopter).

Saga and Sabroe burst in to a barn to find Freddie and Larsson hanging, but manage to save both, and the baby, though Saga’s tempted to let Larsson hang. As he says in his confession, a lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided if he had never been born; does Saga fell the same way about herself?

So the Clown Killer had no accomplice – neither Annika nor Sandberg was involved. We’re not sure that all the facts corroborate that – wasn’t one of the victims left unmutilated, suggesting a copycat? And how did Larsson know about Jeannette’s cottage? Anyway, his motivation – that he was bringing justice to anyone who had let him down – seems plausibly nutty.

What justice for Saga and Sabroe, though? He is told that his wife’s skeleton has been found in an excavation, prompting a drugs binge and an obsessive re-examination of the case notes. Saga, having suffered through Hans’ funeral alone, finds Sabroe collapsed at home; she finally figures out that he’s been on drugs all the time, and has to decide whether to report him. Certainly she believes he’s let her down. He resigns, to devote himself to investigating the fate of his daughters.

Worse is to come. Larsson kills himself with a paperclip Saga left in his cell (no suicide watch in Sweden?), and Linn reports that Saga will be investigated over the death of her mother. She comes close to jumping under a train before Sabroe talks her out of it, and we conclude with the duo setting to work to find his daughters.    

So this the best series of The Bridge so far? Perhaps not in terms of the murder plot. Combining elements of Hannibal, CSI’s Miniature Killer and The Abominable Dr Phibes, it was at the same time complex, yet glaringly obvious (always check the records at the sperm bank first). Plot threads and characters were developed and discarded, obvious leads not followed up, and, the central ludicrousness, a massive murder spree which would have made worldwide headlines was apparently investigated by two loons, a man with a beard and his 12-year-old daughter.

Yet in terms of the exploration of Saga’s character, and that of the equally damaged Sabroe, it could well have been the best Bridge yet. Why Saga has to be made to suffer so much is beyond us; because she’s ill-equipped to deal with emotion, her reaction to pain is somehow more even extreme and more distressing. It’s like watching an kitten being beaten with a stick.  

Is it too much to ask that Saga will find redemption, even some sort of happiness? Maybe not through Sabroe, who has his own problems – perhaps she’ll have to make some other human connection. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Chris Jenkins

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One Comment Add yours

  1. john hobson says:

    Unresolved sub-plots have been a feature of all three series of The Bridge. In many ways that has been a strength, life doesn’t come in neat packages. I thoroughly enjoyed this series however bonkers it was in many places. Saga is such a compelling character that you watch her rather than the plot. In fact I was glad the murder plot was out of the way so early.

    However I think three series is enough. The ending was similar to that of London Spy with an ill sorted duo going of the fight the world which was roundly criticised. Leave the future to our imaginations. Otherwise I can see it declining like Spiral if it runs on.


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