At long last, after a week of fears both named and nameless and in full consideration of the darkness in which The Bridge has been swathed since that first week of series 1, the time came for it all to be over, and when it was over it was that one thing that not one in a million of us ever dreamed it might be: a happy ending.
And a happy, and deserved, and so comprehensive and completely pitch-perfect an ending, one that you cannot imagine coming back from. There are many, so many over at the Guardian BTL plotting and guessing and hoping for a Bridge 5, but in their heart or hearts they should know that this has come to an end in the only way truly possible. It’s like The Last Temptation of Christ: the final enemy is happiness, against which nothing can prevail.
Yet there was a flirtation with the fear I saw coming at the end of last week. Saga saw it herself: she was no longer in danger, she was no longer the most important person in Henrik’s life.
It was an abyss, belatedly opened, for us to fall into after we had started to comprehend that this was going to be a happy ending. For the case was finished incredibly quickly. Suzanne, who was indeed Tommy Petersen’s girlfriend, though Stephanie was only ever a codename, went hunting for our two red herring street girls, Julia and Ida, and correctly worked out they’d go to Henrik’s house. She tasered them, stuffed them in the boot of her car and, when Saga arrived, shot her twice in the chest. Twice in the bulletproof vest. And Saga struggled through one almighty winding and managed to get off a bunch of shots, blowing out a tyre.
Suzanne was captured and she couldn’t roll over fast enough. After that, everything started falling into place, with almost absurd rapidity, details like dominoes clicking one after another, one by one.
Henrik missed all this, missed the case being wrapped up, and didn’t really care. He still has a relationship to build with Astrid, who is still speaking Swedish. She wants to go ‘home’, but it’s to collect her things, and to take Henrik to Anna’s grave. It hits Henrik like a fist between the eyes, but he tries to hold it in, but back at the car, it breaks through and he cries for his other daughter. In a way, that’s the turning point for Astrid: from then on, she truly sees him as her father, and her old life completely washed away. Though my ignorance of the languages blurred it, I knew that at some point, and it was the last possible moment before the bottom fell through the world, she spoke to him in Danish: you’re my father.
Everything is turning inwards towards a contentment. Jonas wants to take credit for the win since it was achieved under his command, but his leaking has been caught and it is Lillian alone who takes the Press Conference. And she’s happy now to go to dinner with her Prosecutor admirer.
John and Barbara are blissfully loved up, and having the time of their lives. They even look pleased when Saga – Saga! – tells them they’ve been weird since they started having sex.
And Saga. The case has been carried off, Jonas is making a move towards trying to tempt her to transfer to Copenhagen before he’s so crestfallenly interrupted. But things are beginning to fall into place for her. Her gentle and so wonderful psychologist reminds her of her previous life, studying microbiology for two years before abruptly wanting to become Police: two months after her sister’s suicide. The key is guilt. Guilt that if she had been more like other people, she would have seen her sister’s deterioration before she killed herself. But Saga is not guilty. She never was, she never was. She was not responsible.
I cannot say this often enough, Sofia Helin’s face, the subtlety of her acting. In it, despite Saga’s disconnection from her emotions, Sofia Helin has so many time been utterly naked to us in her eyes, but never before have we seen hope. And retrieving her mother’s diaries, taking them to her wonderful gravel-voiced pathologist friend and having him confirm that yes, the doses tallied with the drugs that put her sister in hospital, that yes, Mama Noren did have Muchausen’s by Proxy. The release from guilt is almost shattering, for when Saga got her sister away from their parents by having them imprisoned for harming the girl, she did it by forging evidence and the evidence was true, it was real all along, it was real all along.
Everything upon which Saga’s life has been built is turning into smoke in her hands, every cage she has built around herself is becoming unbarred. But she is still, for one more time, Sago Noren, Landskrim Malmo. Something’s wrong. There’s a discrepancy in the evidence. Suzanne didn’t put forward an alibi for Margrethe Thormod. But she had one. An unbreakable alibi. And Saga’s prison chum, who stabbed her with the broken bat in episode 1, that weird, unexplained melodrama, she calls Saga back to prison. She recognised Suzanne, she came to the prison, she threatened to hurt the woman’s daughter. She was supposed to not just stab Saga, but decapitate her…
Suzanne had an accomplice. And it’s pretty obvious who it is. Wheelchair bound Kevin, Tommy’s son Brian, turning up at Henrik’s house with non-alcoholic champagne, then rising to his feet from the wheelchair, like a sleeper coming out of hiding. Knocking out Henrik. Binding him. Tying Astrid to a chair. Producing a gun. Henrik fights with the only weapon he has, time and a pair of shut eyes. Brian insists he watch Astrid be executed. Refusing to see prolongs things. Even after Brian shoots Astrid through the thigh. We know Saga’s outside, that she’s heard the shot, but this is The Bridge and we have come too close to a happy ending and the abyss is gaping wide open and Henrik changes his tack, promising Astrid that he will always be there, he will never leave her again, and the gunshot as his eyes shut…
But not even The Bridge can do that to us. The fear in Henrik’s eyes as he opens them. And Brian sliding down the french windows, his right eye a bloody ruined mess. Saga with her gun held in that fixed position.
And if I wasn’t already pouring with tears, then I was from here to the end and well beyond, moved beyond measure. Astrid will be ok, Henrik will be ok, and yes, he and Saga will be ok. She’s going away for a while, to find out what she’s going to do. She’s taken the boxes of her old life the diaries, the photos out of which she was long ago cut, and burned them, burned up the past. She’s admitted to Henrik that she does need him. They’ve even kissed, Saga who never kisses. He’ll be there when she gets back. He wants her to meet Astrid. Things have worked out. There’s an immense air of peace settling.
Last of all, there is the bridge. Daylight, air, a drive towards Malmo. Saga pulls up, midway. For a moment, there’s the tremor of fear. She gets out, walks to the rail. They couldn’t? Surely they couldn’t? Trash everything that’s been done for the sake of a cheap twist? That would mock every part of what Saga has gone through. And no, they can’t. For there is a moment still of formal perfection, the last delicate notes that are the only notes that can now be played because none other complete the melody. Saga throws her Police ID into the Oresund Sound and walks back to her car. The phone rings. “Saga Noren,” she answers.
Though if you had asked me, at any time throughout these past seven weeks, would I jump at a The Bridge 5 if they offered it, I would have snatched your hands off, now I would spit in your eye. What was offered to us was a happy ending, out of all the unexpected possibilities. Who could possibly suggest drawing back from that? Let Saga and Henrik’s life be what it will be, free from us overlooking them, trying to make their freedom into their past, putting back on them the chains they’ve borne so long. It is over. My tears have been sorrow and joy and beauty all in one. This isn’t going to happen again. We can’t count of another The Bridge in our lifetimes. We can only hope that it rubs off, that our own TV industry stops making so much formulaic and insipid shit.
Yeah, right. Thank you, everyone, thank you.