Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 8


Thank you all so much

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.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 7


With only one episode left, everything is converging, and everything is leading up to that one inevitable moment that all of us have feared since it was stated that there would not – not merely would not but could not – be any more series of The Bridge after this one. Yes, admit it, the instinctive jump to the conclusion that Saga will be killed.

And now that there is only one method of execution outstanding, and Henrik is the only one left to be punished, and only one episode left, all things are pointing to the one place.

But we should bear in mind that since it began in 2014, the one thing The Bridge has never done is the inevitable. And as this enormous emotional bubble of an episode neared its end, something happened that gave me another, more horrific fear.

Episode 7 started with Cristoffer having been imprisoned by no-longer-Friendly Frank and making an ingenious escape to head for the Police and turn himself in. Saga immediately had her computer genius colleague John (interrupting his cozy little love-nest with his Danish equivalent Barbara) age Henrik’s photo of his missing elder daughter by eight years, which made her a dead ringer for Astrid.

The pieces fell into place with incredible rapidity. Frank goes off the deep end, his sense of entitlement going OTT, tries to kill Astrid, tries to kill himself but the Swedish SWAT team beat him to it.

And there was the moment, the moment that broke all of us down. After last week’s cliffhanger, Henrik is not dead, only shot in the thigh. It’s a bit of a cop-out, but it’s a cop-out that’s completely in line with the case: the killer doesn’t want to kill those responsible for Tommy’s death, but to make them live with the sorrow and grief of losing someone dear to them, which puts things squarely in the family for me.

So Saga goes to Henrik, in the face of the totality of his rejection of her last week, because she has found his daughter for him, has solved the mystery. But most of all so that Astrid and he can look at each other, can recognise each other, can be reunited against all odds and probabilities. Case closed, and an audience reduced to tears.

But that wasn’t all of the emotional bombs for this week. Henrik may have Astrid back, and something of a story about the missing years, but his daughter is still, in more ways, Frank’s rather than his, and there is an uphill road to climb. But the look of relief in Henrik’s eyes, the look in Saga’s eyes when she sees the two together, the tentative manner in which she asked if everything was alright between them now, and Henrik’s warmth when he agreed – even more so when he told Astrid that Saga was his best friend – played on us like a virtuoso.

There was yet more. Henrik wanted to interview Frank, not as a Police officer but as the father. Linn the Troll is reluctant. Henrik asks her if she has any children. Emotionlessly of voice, Linn just says, “I did.” but Maria Kulle puts something into her eyes. She’s mainly been an arsehole, a figure of contempt, but in that moment Linn became a human being, with an unimaginable pain, and her eyes were a warning not to go there, because there be horrors, and it was like falling into a deep, black place with no bottom.

And Lillian is yet a target. She’s gone out for a meal with her prosecutor friend but won’t go on with him because she’s not taking the risk of giving the idea that anyone matters to her. But someone does matter to her. There’s a delivery of a flower basket that I first feared was a bomb, and it was, but not a physical one: it’s the decapitated head of dear old Hans, stolen from his grave.

The horror reverbrates. Lillian takes time off. Jonas, who has been steadily drawing respect to himself as a detective and as someone fully aware of the caricature he cuts with his offensive remarks, is appointed temporary head of the team. He’s getting protective of Saga, and the two of them are making something of a team now, albeit with awkward angles. But there’s strong circumstantial evidence that he’s been the one leaking things to the press, thanks to Barbara.

Back at the station, there’s no evidence to justify holding Nicole or Solveig any longer. The former is picked up by Tobias, who wants things to go on. The latter bats back to her flat, where grandson Brian/Kevin is waiting, and jumps straight onto his laptop, swearing revenge on the Police, and calling them idiots for thinking it’s anything to do with the family.

So what is it? Hans’ grave was desecrated by Silas Tuxen, owner of the gay bar from episode 1 and brother of one of the KC gang killed in William’s raid, but when the Police catch up with him, using Denmark’s SWAT team (equal opportunities…), Silas is dead, together with an as-yet-unidentified male passenger.

So too is Douglas, who you will remember being shot in the head last week. Douglas was  a private investigator, hired by Niels Thormod because he thought the Police were being too slow. Douglas’s computer shows he too was checking up on Silas…

But we’re at Niels now, and he’s still trying to get through to our two waifs, Julia and Ida.  They con him into taking them to the cinema. He brings along his assistant, Suzanne. Or is her real name Stephanie? Because there’s a distinctive skeleton key lock dangling from her bag, one that Julia instantly recognises as being the bag from which she nicked the mobile phone… The girls pull a stunt and run off into the night. Leaving Suzanne to realise the exact reason why.

The the moment for the Choir of Young Believers to start singing, but I’ve left something out deliberately. Henrik’s brought Astrid home, though when she talks of home it is Frank’s house she means. He’s made her her once-favourite meal, at which she picks dubiously. There’s a ring on the bell: Brian/Kevin some to take him to the meeting. And Kevin’s aware Henrik’s started pilling again, though the latter says he’s stopped again. But he has his daughter back. Kevin’s delighted for him. Kevin, who might be involved, now knows there is someone in Henrik’s life even more important to him than Saga.

They teased it in Frank’s house, the momentary fear that he’d shot her. That would have been cruel. But this would be even more cruel. I hope they’re not going to go there. But The Bridge has a history of going there. It’s why we think it’s so bloody amazing. And the next one is the very last one.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 6


Might we yet see him again?

Where do I begin?

There is a direct conflict between the importance of the beginning and the importance of the end. The one was a flashback, an extended one at that, lasting almost 18 minutes, something The Bridge has never done before, the other was a cliffhanger of the kind that we would usually assume won’t prove fatal, simply cannot be taken lightly because, after this, there are only two episodes left. Two final, never coming back episodes.

The flashback, to four years earlier (placing it sometime around The Bridge 2?), was about Tommy. Who was Tommy? Well, for one thing, he was exactly who I thought he was: Nicole’s ex, Solveig’s son, Kevin’s Dad, except that Kevin is really Brian. He was also a member of William Ramberg’s gang, and a Police informant, getting information to enable the Police to bring William down. Only they failed him. Everybody let him down. Prosecutor Vibeke, who wouldn’t sanction the raid. Psychologist Neils Thormod, who wouldn’t diagnose him as mentally unstable. Journalist Richard Dahlqvist, who accidentally revealed Tommy’s identity as an informant. His mate Moyo, who didn’t turn up with the getaway truck, and whose beloved wife was found hanging (that’s five) just before the end.

Which leaves Tommy’s Police contact, Henrik Sabroe, and his superior, Lillian.

So Tommy’s story, a tragedy in a minor key, spiraling outwards from Vibeke, who evidently didn’t give humans enough of a damn, unlike her beloved horse, started to draw all the disparate little elements together, locking them into a recognisable pattern in preparation for the increasingly narrowing approach to the outcome.

Which left forty or so minutes for the episode, in painstaking and almost loving detail, to completely reverse the effect by tearing practically everything apart to create utter and hellish chaos for absolutely everyone involved.

Take Saga and Henrik. That’s gone, completely. Henrik is in a state of suppressed anger throughout, except for when he’s screwing the lovely Tanya, his pick-up from the Find Me scene where we found him at the start of The Bridge 3. He has to work with Saga but he’d rather never see her again in his life, and despite Lillian demanding the pair behave professionally, he can’t not let it show.

Poor Saga is hurt but enable to either show it or understand it. She wants Henrik not to be disappointed in her again, and believes she can get this by finding his daughters. She throws herself into the case and discovers that Anna Sabroe was seeing a Counsellor through work, who advises that she had met another man and was thinking of leaving Henrik. Herik doesn’t want to know unless Saga has absolute 100% certainty, backed up by proof (irrefutable evidence, eh? Very 100 Bullets).

Incidentally, Anna’s Counsellor? It’s Friendly Frank. Yes, him. Sofie’s helper. There’s a backstory out there in among the mists and icebergs and its shape may be visible. Cristoffer wants to go back to his old school so Sofie talks of going back to Malmo. Frank, just like last week, instantly and icily guilt trips her into staying, because she’s not being very grateful, after all he’s done for her, made himself an accessory to murder for her, etc., etc., etc.

And Frank’s got a daughter, Astrid. And Astrid had a younger sister, Anna, only she’s dead. Cristoffer finds her at night, speaking in Danish, at Anna’s gravestone. Astrid claims the Danish is only one of her roleplaying characters. Then Frank finds Cristoffer peering at the grave and absolutely smashes him one in the head.

Counselled Anna Sabroe. Has a daughter who looks nothing like him. Had another ‘daughter’ who’s now dead. Can you tell what it is, yet?

Both our detective heroes are causing chaos. There’s a disturbing scene where Henrik directs his anger at Kevin/Brian, who is now a suspect, even to the point of doubting he is disabled, dragging him out of his chair, making him stand, only for Kevin to collapse. And before that, Henrik just grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and pulled Kevin away from what he was doing, his job, without a word, without respect, which was an incredibly offensive thing to do.

Yet Kevin (as Henrik insists on calling him despite it only being a name Brian uses at Narcotics Anonymous, for anonymity) remains fixated on Henrik, as if he has transferred his addiction from the drug to his ‘friend’.

As for Saga, she is left holding the baby, literally, at Nicole and Tobias’s. She spots the brown eyes. She asks Tobias who the father is? Next thing, Tobias is round at Morgan’s busting him one in the mouth and telling Malene to ask her husband. He also shops Nicole to the Police over the key safe thing. Next time we see Malene, she’s telling Saga and Henrik that if they want Morgan, they have to speak to her Divorce lawyers.

By this time, they’re after a new character, Stephanie, Malene’s daughter, who it appears was seeing Tommy. Malene says her daughter’s in Colombia, but she’s been back in whichever of the two countries we happen to be in at the moment, not being Danish or Swedish I can never tell, and she’s not let on to Mummy. Despite all this, and as a pointed reverse to Henrik, Malene thanks Saga for bringing all this out into the open: she would rather now.

In it’s way, it’s a moment of private pain, and there are others in this episode. Henrik and Lillian are obviously among the remaining targets. Saga asks Lillian about her loved ones: she has none now (there is a short, but charming section in the flashback in which we see dear much-missed Hans). Saga tells her to go home and write out a list of everyone she’d miss if they were killed. We next see her at her table at home, with a bottle of wine and a pen in her hand: the paper is blank.

And when Saga and Henrik leave Malene’s, there is a silent shot of their walking to their two cars, parked one behind the other.

But thanks to Brian/Kevin, we have added mate Moyo to the scheme of things. Moyo, who works at Tobias’s garage, where Nicole got him a job. Who gets pulled in for questioning. Who talks about how good life is with Sandra, his missus, his sole alibi. Henrik goes to their house to talk to her. The door’s open. It’s silent and dark. She’s hanging from a doorframe. There’s someone else in the dark, a figure dressed in black, holding a gun. We cut outside, and hear a gunshot…

As I said above, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Henrik’s a principal, a hero, he’s bound to survive, you don’t kill off your stars in mid-series.

But this is the last season. We have a third detective working this case, even though he’s been kept to a minor role. For the plot’s sake, we have a ready-made back-up. And above all, this is The Bridge, which doesn’t piss around, like Follow the Money 2. So we don’t know. We can’t trust to amiable certainty. We have to wait until next Friday night. And ask ourselves, would they really? Really?

Yes, they bloody well would.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 5


I’ve been afraid of this…

Ohhhhh f***!

I don’t know about Bridges but a bottomless pit opened up in episode 5 and I don’t think there’s a bridge in the universe big enough to get over the sinking feeling that developed in my stomach at that moment.

This was a rough episode to watch. We’re past the halfway point now and, without accusing Skandi drama of having any formulas, recent series have very much been about the copious mysteries of the first half beginning to be knotted together in the second half. Football metaphors are appropriate, having regard to one connection being made herein.

Once again, there was so much happening that it was hard to comprehend how it all could have taken place in one hour and still have all the time it needed. Starting with Sofie and Dan the Bastard taxi-driver, we have the heavy signalling that he’d exercised what he’d no doubt regard as his conjugal rights (and what we the sane call rape) between episodes, and now he’s going to drag her off out of there.

One brilliant thing about The Bridge throughout has been its occasional propensity to set up pretty cliched cliffhangers and then explode them almost instantly the next week. Utopian Harriet turns up on the spot, doing the casual chat bit whilst Dan and Sofie try to edge away – and there’s a bunch of villagers on hand because Harriet isn’t in any way naive, she’s got Dan’s number, and he’s forced away into the woods, alone. Yay!

Where he meets Cristoffer and Friendly Helpful Frank. The Bastard starts on Frank, who’s trying to be peacekeeper here but when he movs towards his son, Cristoffer backs away, panicky, trips over a root and his gun goes off. Through Dan’s throat. Bye Dan, rolled into the river to be borne away, hurry back!

Frank’s extreme helpfulness extends not only to dumping the body and reassuring the traumatised Cristoffer that it was an accident, but swearing him to secrecy, even from Sofie, and concocting a cover story about threatening Dan into running away forever. Needless to say, Sofie knows Dan well enough to know that nothing will stop him from coming back and, in panic, wants to leave, until Cristoffer fesses up (don’t tell Frank I told you!).

When Dan’s abandoned taxi comes up near Harriet’s village, Saga and Henrik start to investigate. Friendly Frank reacts to the name Sabroe (hmm). Cristoffer has a moment with Astrid, Frank’s daughter, half-talking about his Dad. Astrid doesn’t talk about her mother either (hhmmm). And when Frank goes round to Sofie’s to help her fold bedclothes, he offers to have her and Cristoffer move in with him (hhhmmmm). It’s all above board, everybody will have their own room. Only, when Sofie doesn’t instantly drop to her knees in gratitude, ol’ Friendly Frank gets a bit huffy, heads for the door, if you don’t want my help, you know best, and she agrees to his proposal. Hhhhhmmmmmmm!

Meanwhile. There’s going to be a lot of meanwhiles about this. Temporarily, the investigation has stalled, and Lilian is getting pressure from above, especially over how all their leads get into the press. So she puts Danish IT specialist Barbara onto checking out all the calls, texts, Skypes etc of… Jonas. Is our unreconstructed detective the leak?

Neils Thormod goes back to work. He’s a psychologist. He works in prisons. His first case is Julia and Ida, the pseudo daughters. They won’t speak to anyone but Henrik. When they tell him they sold his daughters necklaces, he turns to go, so they claim to have seen the murderer. Ida produces an e-fit that looks a lot like Morgan Sonning but when it comes to a line-up, she confesses they lied because they wanted to go back to Henrik’s. He boots them back into Social Services, refusing to have anything more to do with them.

This is not a good week for Henrik. It is so not a good week for Henrik, but let’s leave that there.

Meanwhile, Morgan is looking an increasingly good fit for the role of Bad Guy. Since the snail venom used on little Leonora is pretty damned rare, our heroes investigate and and how and who has gotten hold of it. The nearest manufactury is in Hamburg… where the Sonnings were away for an untraceable break whilst Morgan’s car was being used to take Margrethe Thormod to her death. The car that was in brother Tobias’s garage under lock and key.

Except that Tobias’s full-bodied wife Nicole, mother of his one year old baby, is in the habit of borrowing the flashier cars in his garage to go out for joyrides. This is why you should never use the same PIN number for all your security devices, such as the key safe in your garage.

Park Nicole a moment. Henrik gets a late night call from Kevin, his acquaintance from the Rehab group. It’s the fourth anniversary of Kevin’s Dad’s death and he’s close to going back over the line. Kevin’s a Manchester United fan, introduced by his Dad. The same Dad who gave him his first joint at age 17, leading Kevin to harder drugs, an attempt to fly off a balcony and a lifetime of confinement to a wheelchair.

In which he turns up at Baby Sonny’s birthday party. Why shouldn’t he? After all, tightly-clothed Nicole is his mother.

And Nicole’s in demand. Morgan wants to speak to her. In private. And look who’s here, the spectre at the feast, Solveig. Solveig’s Kevin’s granny, Niccole’s ex-mother-in-law, here to confirm the rumour she’s heard, that Nicole is shitting all over her poor son. Hmm, again.

Along the way, there’s an accidental confirmation of the next murder, from the unlikely source of Lilian’s would-be prosecutor suitor, who mentions a bit of work-related gossip, that his colleague Vibeke has had her beloved horse gassed to death. There’s a video too, filmed on the same dead pixel camera. Barbara recovers some deleted frames showing a distinctive watch, identical to one owned by… Morgan Sonning. Who also owns the exact model of video camera these murder videos are being shot on.

Or rather owned. It was in his car, you see, the one the Police are holding in connection with the Thormod murder: I thought you had it… He’s such a smug bastard, you want him to be the Bad Guy, even as you know he won’t be.

Everyone gathers round the picture board, juggling theories, connections, until the silent Saga sees the link. The horse was gassed to cause pain to its owner, Vibeke. The real targets aren’t the victims, they are the ones who loved the victims. Margrethe’s husband, Patrik’s brother, Leonora’s dad. In the silence that follows, Jonas speaks up, with real praise, “That’s bloody brilliant.”

And then the bottom falls out of everything. This has not been a good week for Henrik. He’s lost the two necklaces that were the last physical link to his lost daughters. Saga has reached a dead end in her investigation of their disappearance and closed the case. She agrees to his proposal that she bears their child and gives up complete right to him. The two girls who have been a near-daughter substitute have let him down and he has driven them off. Then Saga has a stomach cramp. She’s been in Malmo this afternoon. She’s had an abortion. Oh, f***!

There is a reason for it, and she tries to explain. She has done it because she wants to live with Henrik. She can’t live there with a child. But if there is no child, she can live with him. Because even if she can only explain it in terms of oxytocin and seratonin, Saga thinks she has fallen in love with Henrik. And he throws her out, with hatred on his face. Oh mother.

Saga drives back over the Bridge. Henrik can’t sleep. He grabs his little plastic bag of pills and heads to Police Headquarters. We see him take one. He pulls an all-nighter, researching, old files, stacks, online. By morning, he tells Lilian he has found it., he has found the link. It’s Tommy.

But who’s Tommy?

If I could find a link to stream or download versions that have English sub-titles, I would give up everything I have to do today and watch the last three episodes straight through. Can’t do that though. It’s down to next week. But I do have a prediction about who Tommy is. I bet he’s Nicole’s ex, Solveig’s son, Kevin’s Dad. What the hell else he is, I haven’t the faintest idea. Which is one of the many reasons I think The Bridge is bloody brilliant.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 4


Dan and Sofie

We’re halfway there, and as yet our ultimate destination is no more guessable than it was in those opening moments of episode 1, but I am growing steadily more afraid of where and what it may be. After all, this episode included a moment so black and evil that I have not seen its like for thirty five years.

In 1983, in chapter eight of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, the title character kills the head of a Fascist Governmet State calculated religion, by feeding him a communion wafer. The rite of Transubstantiation: whatever the host is made of becomes the body of Christ. I have hanging on my wall the original art for the page in which Eric Finch relates that this wafer was full of cyanide. “And do you know what? When it reached his abdomen, it was still cyanide.”

I am not religious and even less Catholic, but that was an evil conception, a black design. You may say I have led a sheltered life but not until this episode have i seen anything so calculatedly poisonous since.

William Ramberg, the gun-runner, has nothing but his ten-year old daughter, Leonora, in hospital recovering from a kidney transplant. She was improving yesterday, going to be released home, but the clown injected her with something and she’s now unresponsive. A text with a video advises William she’s been poisoned, has four hours. Frantically, he complies with the demands, large bricks of money in return for a drone-delivered antidote, near the deadline. He races back to the hospital. Where the Doctor is explaining to Aunt Sarah it’s only sedatives, she’s fine.

I caught the idea then, flinched at the horror of it. William crashed in, injected his daughter to save her, but the ‘antidote’ was the real poison, and it killed her in seconds. A father kills his own daughter. A secure gangland boss is broken.

The Bridge has never shied away from darkness, long before that ending to series 1, and the death of Martin’s son. Leonora’s death is not the only one this week: Taariq has summoned the mysterious Morgan Sonning, whose car picked up Margethe Thormod and took her to her stoning. Sonning denies everything: he and his much older wife were in Hamburg, on a cash-only, card-free, mobile-free break (not suspicious at all) whilst his car was at his brother’s garage in Sweden and couldn’t have been used but had been.

Taariq didn’t get anywhere with Sonning. He stole the car, wallet, phone, shaved, slicked back his hair and tried to get into Sweden but was stopped by a diligent border guard who e had to take hostage. Henrik lied, said he could claim asylum in Sweden. Saga told the truth: five years imprisonment, deportation. Taariq ate his gun.

Ah, Henrik. Trustingly, he leaves the two young girls in his house when he goes to work. Ida likes him, wants to stay. Julia reminds her that they can only ever trust each other. Henrik gets back with Saga to find the house trashed, everything portable – including his daughter’s necklaces – ripped off. They’ve gone. He can’t find them on the streets. He can see his daughters in the rear-view mirror, complaining that he searches for them, until he tears off the mirror.

He also finds his drugs-dealer of yore, buys a bag of pills but, in one of the very few lapses into cliche that this show has ever given us, finds the strength to refuse. So far.

Meanwhile, out at Hannah’s gated village, Theo is still trying to stir up trouble for Sofie and Cristoffer. Frank promises to help. He takes Cristoffer down to the warehouse, teaches him shooting, offers a fatherly ear for things he can’t discuss with Sofie. Creepy Astrid plays Truth or Consequences with him, gets him to dress up as a circus character, a magician (not a clown), kisses him. Dastardly Dan, the taxi driver, follows Frank to the village and, when Frank takes Cristoffer into the woods for a walk’n’shoot, he sneaks into Sofie’s cottage. With a gun in his waistband.

It’s all getting more and more dark. Niels Thormod is burning all his wife’s papers, including a leatherbound journal. Morgan Sonning’s brother’s little baby isn’t his brother’s: his wife has been playing away. Mrs Sonning was in the same organisation as Margrethe but didn’t know her, even though Margrethe tried to get her deposed as Chair.

Lilian’s going on a date, her first since Hans died, but Saga’s blunt questions put her off: she goes home to drink wine and watch her wedding video.

Saga’s in therapy, seeing no logic in what her therapist doesn’t choose to follow up on. ‘Henrik’s girls remind her of her sister Jennifer, though Saga openly states Julia is a better sister to Ida than Saga was to Jennifer.

It’s a swirling miasma. There are three murder victims, with no connections. Three different murder methods. Isn’t this three separate cases? Until Saga anatomises it: stoning, electrocution, lethal injection. Three examples of legitimate state methods of execution. Three out of seven. Firing Squad, Gas, Decapitation, Hanging.

Four more long weeks.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge 4 – episode 3


I’m parceling this out carefully, holding onto each episode because I know there aren’t going to be many more, although by the time of the last episode I don’t doubt I’ll be diving in anxiously, to know.

But for the moment, the pattern holds. Pieces in motion, building up, gradual connections being revealed, red herrings being exposed, and then returned to the table. With only eight episodes now as the apparent Danish norm, less time can be spared to leave us in the miasma. Though I still have no idea what is going on, some threads are already beginning to tighten.

We begin with Daniel Bjork, the taxi driver and wife-threatener, driving across the titular bridge into Sweden, only to be stopped and robbed of three mysterious boxes by three heavily-armed and black-balaclavaed guys. Whatever has been stolen is clearly illicit, and it’s upset the boss, who is the father of the little girl in hospital terrified of clowns.

Daniel succeeds in making it clear that he didn’t shop the delivery. Offscreen, the culprit is found and onscreen Daddy shoots him. Near the end, it’s implied he’s connected to the murder of Margrethe Thormod, to which I’ll come shortly. He also takes a call from his sister (?) Sarah, who’s with the girl at the hospital, with the good news that the kid can come home. But that’s before the episode ending on Sarah being tasered and the kid’s room being invaded by… a clown.

No, not Patrik Twin, who’s dead, remember. Early on, Richard Twin has broadcast about being kidnapped by Red October to deny involvement in Patrik’s murder, except that Saga and Henrik soon get out of him that Red October don’t actually exist, he made them up to get ahead in his career. So, whilst Patrik is still dead and murdered (and the possibility, which I overlooked last week, that it was actually Richard who got electrocuted and Patrik trying to impersonate him permanently would appear to be refuted), he has to be decoupled from the Thormod case and considered the target in his own right.

Meanwhile, the suspicious Niels Thormod moves nearer to the centre of things. No, he doesn’t know any hospital clowns, but he does know more than he’s letting on about. His secretary, Suzanne, gets drawn into things, is interviewed at Copenhagen Police HQ, where Saga inadvertently lets slip that Suzanne is being considered as a  suspect.

But before we go there, let’s just tick off the last still-seemingly-extraneous strand, that of Sofie and Cristoffer and Harriet’s community. There’s been a burglary, a stolen laptop and camera, and the guy who’s lost them wants a Neighbourhood Watch patrol that Harriet refuses. Sofie finds the missing goods in Cristoffer’s chest of drawers and doesn’t believe his denials. Via Friendly – and creepy – Frank the goods are returned to the aggrieved victim, who doesn’t believe for one moment they were dumped in the forest. Odds are that Cristoffer’s clean: his new girlfriend shows him her dressing up costumes and then, when Suspicious Neighbour is ‘taking a walk’ at night, creeps up and clonks him from behind. Hmm.

I’ve come thus far without mentioning Saga or Henrik because I wanted to concentrate upon them. The case progresses. Taariq won’t help them unless they lift his deportation, so a cunning plot sees him taken off to the Delivery Centre for actual deportation, until a clearly morally divided Henrik lets him run. It’s a con: the Police have planted a tracker on him, to see where, and to whom, he runs. It backfires; the tracker is in Taariq’s gold watch, which he trades for a gun, dropping off the grid. He has some information that someone wants: this is the contact that brings in the gangster father as an implied suspect.

To get to this point, a lot had has to happen that stirs the emotional side of things. There’s a brief, and blackly hilarious, scene where Saga, after last week’s panic attack, checks herself into therapy. Her therapist asks for the background, and Saga gives it at high speed, a wonderfully outlandish summary of series 3 and the end of series 2, not to mention the family stuff, to which the therapist offers a rather bemused suggestion that they’ve got a lot to work through.

Meanwhile, in Sweden, preparing for their pickpocket trick, Ida and Julia hit a disaster as Ida is run down by a bike, and the pair are arrested before they can get out of the hospital. Back in Copenhagen, they’re interrogated but have no information. Rather than have them sleep overnight in different cells – and Ida has definite separation anxiety about being able to see her sister – Henrik takes them to his home, feeds them, lets them stay overnight.

Saga clearly doesn’t approve, having jumped to exactly the same conclusion we all have, but Henrik firmly denies it: if they were miraculously his daughters, he would recognise them and they would recognise him. No need for DNA. Mind you, they did give false names to the hospital… He takes them to Social Services the next morning but when he gets home at night, they’re sat outside, and they can stay another night. Saga won’t, not with them there. She’s still on the case of Henrik’s daughters, whilst he’s struggling to see them as dead, causing another hallucination, of them pressing on his chest.

And he’s got something else to think of now: Saga’s pregnant.

Of course, she intends an abortion, though Henrik wants to talk about it. You can’t say she hasn’t got the right idea, given her own issues. She’s not the first person you’d think of as a perfect mother. But: Linn the Troll forces her to accept boxes of belongings from her late and unlamented mother. Saga takes them to a storage container and dumps them… but then she opens a box, finds memorabilia of her sister Jennifer and a bunch of old photos of the children, each of them with Saga’s head cut out.

I don’t know where this is going, none of this. I strongly suspect that I’m going to be bawling my eyes out at a lot of it. The story’s coming to an end and it’s not going to be in a good place. For either of Saga or Henrik, I suspect.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge s04 e02


out of character

So.

As always, there seemed to be considerably more than an hour of story in this hour of television, and much happened. And already, the show is delighting in setting up an array of questions, some of which appear to be red herrings. Such as the guy who appeared out of nowhere last week to clonk Richard Twin over the bonce? Nothing to do with Red October, who deny murdering Margrethe Thormod, but rather the jealous boyfriend of the girl who slept with Patrik Twin under the mistaken impression he was Richard.

Or the mysterious, distant, gated community to which Frank takes Sofie and Cristoffer. It’s creepy as hell and the old woman with the long white hair who owns/leads it doesn’t like having her decisions questioned but it’s a place for idealism: be good people, be the best you can be.

Or is it? The problem with red herrings is that sometimes they’re not red at all, it’s down to how you look at them.

Take the open. A young girl, Ida, walks slowly through a busy area before suddenly collapsing. Whilst concerned shoppers gather round, a slightly older girl, Julia, picks pockets. The girls live on the street. They didn’t seem to have anything to do with anything, except that one of the phones they steal turns ooutto be connected directly to the Thormod case.

How many of you, like me, took one look at the girls, assessed their age, and thought, Henrik’s daughters?

Their ages are right. So is their respective hair colours and curliness/straightness when you see the little girls of Henrik’s visions, eight years younger. So, are they Henrik’s missing daughters? Or are we merely meant to think that?

Ah, Henrik. I mean, Sofia Helin gets all the plaudits for her performance as Saga, and doesn’t she just deserve them? But Thure Linhardt, especially on the evidence of this episode, is every bit as important to this series as she is. In The Bridge 3, he sometimes came over as a bit of a pretty boy, but there’s none of that here. Both actors are creating miracles of subtlety by the most minor of facial expressions.

Anyway, let’s get to the facts. Beyond a mention that Saga was lucky, last week’s cliffhanger is swept aside in the most perfunctory of manners. After a brief spell in hospital, she’s up and at them, back to work, re-admitted by Linn the Troll even if her gun practice isn’t up to her usual levels. There’s a moment, during that, when Saga raises the gun, that her eyes betray complete panic.

And she’s back to business, assigned to the Thormod case and immediately hitting the ground like the Saga of old. Her old clothes – the white t-shirts, the leather trousers, the long green coat, the Porsche – are re-adopted like a uniform, and she and Henrik immediately reform their partnership. Which seriously puts the nose out of joint for Jonas, who is still assigned to the case, but who is now relegated to doing no more than be let behind to grow disgruntled. And whilst he’s still an unreconstructed bugger, the glory of the show is that he has every right to be pissed off: he is being treated badly.

Saga’s temporarily staying with Henrik. After an exhausting screw, she can’t sleep, so she gets out the file for Alice Sabroe and her missing daughters and, being Saga and, more importantly, a woman, starts to get some information out of Alice’s old female friends, who’ll tell her what they didn’t tell Henrik: that Alice was unhappy, he was too much the policeman, she talked to someone (male) at work…

There are developments. Taariq the deportee saves the two girls from being attacked outside the restaurant where he washes dishes. They give him a mobile as thanks. He’s shopped by the bastard of the restaurant owner (anything to get out of paying a week’s minimum wage). He explains that Margrethe disagreed with the decision to deport him, offered to help smuggle him away, but she was interrupted by an urgent, worrying call. From the phone that the girls gave him, which has a tracking app on it, for Thormod’s phone.

Now that’s one implausible coincidence and I have to fault the show for that, even as the overall quality mandates me to forgive it. It leads to a hunt for thegirls, who decide to relocate to Malmo.

Meanwhile, Saga and Henrik question Niels Thormod about this new development, but he knows nothing. Except that, after they leave, he phones someone to assure them the Police know nothing, and the plan will proceed. And at the end he collects a secret delivery of police photos of his dead wife…

Oh, and Patrik and Richard Twins? Patrik is a hospital clown, entertaining sick children, except he bursts into the room of one girl who’s terrified of clowns. Accident, of course. Except that he knew to avoid her. At night, he savours the outside heated jacuzzi until distracted by a mysterious, darkened trespasser, who refuses to leave. He has a flashing red dot on him. But when Patrik grabs the rails to get out of the jacuzzi, they are electrified…

That’s the second murder. Everyone assumes it was planned for Richard, who is distraught. Mistaken identity. The Swedish Police place him in protective custody, under guard in a hotel. But when Henrik and Saga go to question hiiim, the guard’s gone. And so’s Richard.

Ah, Saga. Saga is back, as she always was. Except that she’s not right. Spilled paperclips give her a flashback of last series’ killer gouging his arm with a paperclip to open a vein. She’s going off into short fugues. And on the Bridge, behind the wheel, she has a sustained panic attack. Something’s not right. Something’s very much not right. Somewhere in all this tangle, of angles and leads and red herrings and lives that seem to interconnect, there is an answer. Like Henrik, hearing what Alice thought about their marriage, I think we are very much not going to like it.

Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge s4 episode 1


It’s back, at long last, and for the last. The Bridge, or Bron-Broen, has been so successful in Denmark and Sweden that it’s been granted an unprecedented fourth series and, to parallel that popularity, it’s been given an uplift from BBC4 to BBC2, and it’s own time on Friday night, away from the Saturday Eurocrime slot. It’s also been rationed back to one episode per week which, given the cliffhanger at the end of episode 1, is a hellish trick to play on an adoring public, but then again we get eight weeks to play out this story one final time.

Much has been made in advance of the ‘ultra-violent’ start of the series: a woman is buried up to her shoulders underneath the (in)famous Oresund Bridge, and stoned to death. No, it’s not a pleasant thought, and it does buy into the ‘violent crimes against women’ topic, but it’s far from the way it’s been pre-sold, as you might expect. What we see is the buried woman, in a van’s headlights. Then, from a distance, we see a man making a throwing motion and her head jerk. Cut to her bleeding from a split eyebrow, repeat throwing from the same distance after intercutting a hand picking up a stone, and pan left so we see no more. The rest of it is forensics.

There are two more blows to women’s heads, both from behind, later in the episode, neither of which are especially graphic.

The victim is Magrethe Thormod, Director of Immigration in Norway. The detectives are Henrik Sabroe and his new partner, Jonas Maudrup, played by Mikael Birkkjær, who we remember from The Killing 2 and Borgen. Jonas seems to be a decent detective, so far, though he’s not exactly enlightened. Motive, given the rather outre modus operandi, seems likely to be connected to the recent order for deportation of Tariq Sharzi, a gay muslim. There’s nothing simple about this. Homosexuality in Tariq’s home country is punished by stoning to death (a-ha!), but he’s disappeared underground and Margrethe’s staff have been videoed cracking open the bubbly over their victory in sending a man to his death so it’s a bit of a bubbling cauldron, this one. Henrik and Thure start tracing Margrethe’s whereabouts before her abrupt disappearance.

Wait a minute, I can hear you saying, Saga? Saga Noren? Saga the most central and vital character, without whom The Bridge cannot possibly be? What the hell about her?

Well, the frame worked. As she predicted, Saga was convicted of killing her mother and has spent the past two years in prison. Henrik visits her a couple of times a month (Linn the Troll tried to visit too but it never worked out), and they have sex (imagine that being allowed in a British prison, The Sun and the Mail would implode out of sheer fury). He tries to get her to look at the Thormod case but she refuses because she is not police. That’s been taken away from her. It was a very big part of her and Saga has never known how to not be it.

But there’s a retrial coming up, new evidence, her late mother’s psychologist reporting that she’d spoken of wanting to hurt Saga. It’s implied Henrik found this. He’s cautiously hopeful. Linn the Troll says she’s cautiously hopeful but with lowered expectations (I bet she does! I bet she does!)

Henrik’s also got something missing. Lilian may have found his missing wife’s remains, but his two children are still out there. It’s eight years now, though. He’d thought Saga might be able to help, but we already know why she didn’t get the chance. Maybe now, he says to his support group, he should stop, accept they they two are very probably dead. But what is he if he’s not their father?

He’s off the drugs, he no longer sees them around the house, he has the Thormod case. And the moment he puts the file into the box the two little girls reappear.

But this is The Bridge, and it wouldn’t be The Bridge without other things going on that, for now, we only know will be connected, we just have no idea how. There’s a pair of twins (and disappointingly it’s just camera-trickery though it looks like actual twin actors), one of whom is a famous TV reporter, the other of whom pretends to be his brother when it can get him laid by beautiful blondes coming on to him in bars. But TV brother is contacted by Red October, a Swedish radical left group who could have ties to the Thormod case (which is why Henrik was at Swedish Police HQ talking with Linn the Troll). They want a meeting. He has Bar Brother back him up. They don’t show. He drops Bar Brother off at home. Someone clonks Bar Brother over the head.

Someone else is getting clonked behind the head, only not so seriously. This is Sofie, a nervous, not unattractive woman in her early-Forties, panicking that seventeen year old son Cristoffer’s photo has appeared on the school website for a couple of hours. This is a fuck-up of major proportions (and may not have been an accident). You see, Sofie is divorced, from Dan, the taxi-driver who was the last to see Margrethe alive, and he’s a violent misogynist, and yes, a couple of hours is enough for him to locate her and terrorise her and find the son who hates him – because his mother has turned him against him, naturally, nothing to do with him being a bastard – forcing Sofia and Cristoffer to have to flee. Yet again.

The kindly school administrator who was responsible for accidentally allowing Cris’s photo to appear online and be tracked is going to assist the unlucky pair to rehome. He’s got the perfect place for them. And they’re the perfect tenants. Especially Cristoffer, who’s malleable…

And there’s Saga. She’s having difficulty with a new inmate, Lucinda Arvec, a cop-killer who’s got her eye on Saga. Saga secures herself 24 blessed hours in solitary by choosing to fight Lucinda’s provocation rather than call a guard, only it’s cut short. Her conviction is overturned, she’s free to go. This upsets the one inmate who’s been trying to befriend Saga all along. Saga walks away. Until someone clonks her over the back of the head. This is a serious clonking, with blood, and collapse. It’s not Lucinda though, it’s the would-be friend. saying ‘I’m Sorry’.

But Saga’s still on the floor of the prisoner corridor, blood pooling under her blonde locks…

Ok. If I could find a sub-titled episode 2, I would be watching that right now instead of blogging. And, speaking of sub-titles, this was a seriously awkward episode to watch because the version I was able to access had them seriously mis-aligned: I was reading the dialogue a full twenty seconds ahead of the actual words being spoken, and you try watching something as complex as The Bridge with your brain operating in two different timezones without getting a massive headache.

But it’s back. For seven more weeks. And this will be the last.

The Bridge: Some Thoughts


This past few weeks, when I haven’t been the person I usually am, I’ve spent a lot of time watching DVDs: a simple and efficient way of keeping my mind somewhere else whilst I let time seep slowly past me.

I’ve managed to get through the first two seasons of Person of Interest again, and start the third, which is ideal binge-watching stuff. It’s an entertainment, a thriller, easy to breeze through without my mind needing to engage that much. This time, I can see the hints, the foreshadowing, because I know what will eventually be revealed.

But I  also decided that, having bought the box-set a good few months ago now, it was time to re-watch The Bridge, aka Bron/Broen, all three series. It’s still as good as it was when I first watched it on those SkandiKrime BBC4 Saturday nights, and I was dreadfully short of detailed memories, having retained only the basic structure of the first two series, so watching those again was like beginning anew, but with a closer appreciation of how the various elements interwove, tributaries joining a hidden central stream whose banks only appeared late in each series.

Watching The Bridge III has been different. I reviewed it weekly, and when you do that it imprints the memories in you more deeply. I remember far more of it that I did of either of the first two series, with Kim Bodnia, working out the inescapable logic of who he was and what he had done.

I have just completed watching episode 6. Another couple of days and it will be complete, and I will turn to the box-set of The Killing, which I’ve had even longer and not yet re-lived. But episode 6 contained a scene that, as I watched it, a year or so ago, I thought was extraordinary, and which watching again was just as powerful, and which may be one of the most extraordinary scenes of television I have ever seen.

For those whose memory is not as directly stimulated as my own, Sofia Helin’s co-star in series 3, Thure Lindhardt, as Henrik Sabroe, is seen behaving strangely from his first serious introduction. He lives with a beautiful wife and two daughters but goes out to single’s nights for casual sex, which he discusses with his wife. There is something strange about this set-up, which is revealed to be a hallucination. Henrik’s family disappeared six years ago. The case is cold. He asks Saga to look at the file.

I was pleased to sense, correctly, that the family’s appearances were hallucinations (albeit only a short time before this was made explicit). Then came this extraordinary scene. Henrik has been keeping everybody out of his home. It is unchanged, in the irrational hope that by doing so, he is keeping his family alive in some manner, in the superstition that by doing so, they are staying alive.

It makes no sense. It’s like me with the Book of Remembrance in Dukinfield Crematorium, each year on my Dad’s anniversary, and how every year that there isn’t another name added to that page is somehow a sign of life. We who have been bereaved are prone to irrationality.

But Saga, herself disturbed by news of her mother’s suicide – an evil act, by an evil, controlling woman, deprived of power and authority over her daughters and determined to exercise it in a final act of destruction: Ann Petren radiated an understated but implacable evil in even her quietest moments – Saga comes to Henrik’s house late at night and, in the face of her unbudgable rationality, he lets her in.

And in quiet tones that are stable and self-comprehending, he confesses his madness to her, confesses that his wife and children are there with him, that in the six years of their absence he has looked at them and spoke to them and listened to them. They sit in the kitchen and, in a directorial masterstroke that is an ingenious as it is unobtrusive, the camera angle shifts from Saga’s perspective to Henrik’s and from one perspective there are three people in the room, Alice sitting at the table, listening, its top between her and her husband, and from the other there are only two, only those who are really there. But Alice appears from Saga’s perspective, though she cannot see and does not believe, and she is gone from Henrik’s perspective even though it is he who has held her here.

I wish I could have written that scene, but I haven’t and never will. But I understand it and I can stand inside it, and I can be Henrik for the time that that scene takes, even as I am in awe at the courage it takes to say what he says, to place yourself so wholly in someone’s trust, to bring them so deeply into your psyche.

It means all the more in that that is now something I cannot do. I can only watch from outside.

In so many ways, in so many scenes, The Bridge has been exceptional, on so many levels, and I am clinging to the hope that an unprecedented fourth series, one that may bring back Kim Bodnia, will eventually be made.