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 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.

Saturday SkandiCrime: The Bridge 3 – episodes 7 & 8


                                                  Freddie and Asa

Time seems uncommonly elastic when it comes to watching The Bridge: the number of things that happened in tonight’s two episodes could not reasonably have been encompassed in a mere two hours.

And yet, despite those moments in each episode when the action kicked in, this was an night of evenness, of steadiness, of progression as a host of myriad details began to tie together and something approximating to a picture – vague, abstract – began to form.

I’ll begin with what, in the face of a lot of creepiness, was the most disturbing element of the night. Last week, we left Saga at Henrik’s place, privy to Henrik’s secret, that he is haunted by the ‘ghosts’ of his missing wife and children. It seems that the closing scene where he shut the bedroom door on Alice (he and Saga were only going to sleep, not screw) was more symbolic: in the morning, Henrik cannot see or hear his family. Later, he will begin to pack away, with carefulness and delicacy, all the children’s things.

To Saga, this is simply a decision he has made, not to see them. What she doesn’t know is that Henrik has also foresworn his pills for the day. It’s strange that Saga actually notices the change in him, as cold turkey gets colder: not only does Henrik understand her better than anyone since Hans, but Saga seems to be more aware of him, and as the episodes progress, more needful.

Mention of Hans leads me to the sad news given to Lilian that he is brain-dead. She will agree to the turning off of his life support, but brings Saga to pay her last respects first, a last respects that consisted of her angrily beating the unconscious Hans about the chest, for his desertion of her.

More and more, feelings, unwanted, beyond understanding, are forcing themselves upon Saga. She is clinical enough to diagnose herself as being between the first two stages, Shock and Denial, and therefore expecting it to get worse. What she needs to do is work, but by the end of episode 8, Linn the Troll has taken her off the case and ordered her to take days off.

It’s not just Hans, and not just the deaths of her parents but, as we could see coming, Mrs Noren’s ‘suicide’ has now been judged murder, and Internal Affairs are looking at Saga. And why not? All the evidence, including a nail-clipping, plus Saga’s lack of an alibi (drawn aside by an e-mail proven to have been sent, on a timer, from her own computer) points at Saga. Her explanation of why this is an elaborate revenge plot by her late Mum is completely plausible – if you’re a viewer of the series. If you’re the elderly Internal Affairs guy…

Saga is last seen down by the railway tracks, watching the trains go by. Her sister did that. Just before throwing herself under one.

But these are peripheral things, the human aspects of our two investigators. What of the case? What of the great, churning, interweaving mass of stories by now deeply bound into what I would prefer not to call a spider’s web if I could think of any remotely comparable metaphor that hasn’t been cliched to death?

Episode 7 begins with the random burglary of an isolated cottage that uncovers the latest murders. There are two, an elderly couple who used to foster kids, using the welll-known fostering principles of cruelty, beatings and neglect.

The Body part daisy chain continues, with the eyes strung ickily on the Xmas tree but the late Filip’s head cut-off and his brain whipped out. Yeuch.

Suddenly, things start coming together with extreme rapidity. There’s a familiar name of the list of men sacked from Incurious Lars’ company at Freddie capitalist behest and the same name is also on the list of probably disgruntled fosterlings: Emil Larsson, museum guard and all-round smartarse who last week drew Saga and Henrik’s attention to the running theme of the murder sites reflecting artwork in Freddie Holst’s collection.

Rapidly, a chain of connections to nearly everyone places young Emil right in the frame.

Just before this, we get a brief diversion into frustrated activity. John’s bit-on-the-side, Paparazzi Tina is taking photos outside the Holsts, and captures Asa and her artificial baby bump. She ends up in the police station defending herself against her spying, at which point the connection is made between her contact’s e-mail address and the code.

Thanks to John, an e-mail is sent with a trojan horse, enabling them to track Mr (or Ms) Mystery’s iPad. Unfortunately, the Idiot Marc, who did indeed lost the cottage, has stolen it and fenced it. He’s trying to raise the cash to get it back although Freddie’s already bought it back for Babybump Jeanette (don’t worry, I’ll catch up with that strand as soon as I can).

However, Mystery also traces the iPad and blows away the fence just before the Police get there. S/he’s driving a yellow car (yes, Soder’s car) and they’ve previously been watching Asa Holst with presumably malicious intent. There’s a frantic chase but they lose him, principally because s/he bends the iPad into a V shape and chucks it in a pond.

I’m saying s/he because, no sooner is Emil identified as the big bad, he turns up on a lonely road, battered and bleeding, and pretty rapidly cleared. Why he’s been let go is incredibly off the pattern, until Henrik quotes another of Freddie’s collection: “The One That Got Away”.

By an amazing feat of deduction that puts the Swedish police points ahead of their Danish counterpart, Emil’s kidnapper is traced. She was a fosterling with him and her home has every but of evidence needed to connect her to every murder. And guess who she is? None other than Creepy Annika, Funeral Director and Stalker.

And she’s missing, last seen, by Claes, catching a train to Gothenburg. A number of clues are lightly scattered over the two episodes. Claes doesn’t turn up for his lunch with ex-wife Asa, claiming some feeble excuse about an urgent publisher’s phone call. Annika never checked in at the trade fair she was off to. She didn’t return at 9.30, when Claes went to collect her. And when the increasingly flustered Asa beards him at his flat, he’s jogging up the stairs carrying a spade.

Mark my words, we’re too close to the end for a red herring, Creepy Annika is no longer among the living. That’s what you get for threatening to expose your stalkee as a patricide.

So, if Annika’s dead, that means the murder trail is over, right? With two episodes left? Don’t be daft.

It’s time to hie ourselves over to that infernal triangle, Freddie, Asa and Jeanette, and things are getting fraughter and fraughter by the scene. Freddie kidnapping Jeanette into safety was one mother of a mistake: Asa has found herself forced to face the reality of ‘her’ baby being in another woman’s womb, which is interfering badly with her feelings of being able to bond with the little nipper.

Which is not helped by Freddie taking every possible opportunity to hang around with Jeanette, who is growing ever more sceptical of the wisdom of handing  over her baby to parents who argue all the time. More than just her hormones are making her doubt, even though with the Idiot Marc as her only support (and him urging her on to give it away, think of the money), trying to keep the baby is the worst worst solution to this problem.

Then all hell breaks loose. Asa, needing a friendly ear, confides in Claes that she’s been faking the pregnancy. And callous Claes, who’s been playing her all this time looking for an angle to get at Freddie, blows it to the press. All is anger and pandemonium, but what tips Jeanette over the edge is Freddie moving on from feeling the baby bump to nuzzling her neck. With suspicious ease, the Idiot Marc is able to spring her from her captivity at Freddie’s estate (under the noses oof the press vulture pack) and off to their cabin.

Which is the first place Freddie thinks of going. Only Jeanette’s not there. The Idiot Marc is, only his head is leaving a very red trace against the outside wall where he was standing when he was shot (call me callous, but Freddie’s right, she’s better off without him, she is).

Well, not in the short room. Jeanette wakes up, bound and gagged to a chair. Only it’s not a normal chair, it’s an obstetrics chair, with her feet already in the stirrups. It takes no leap of imagination to know what that means.

Have I left anything out? Loads and loads, but having mentioned two action sequences, I should just briefly attend to the other. Saga and Henrick bring in Creepy Annika’s jailbird ex-husband for questioning. Saga overlooks searching him – her performance has been affected by all this – and he’s carrying a gun which he shoots off. He’s surrounded by guns on all sides and backs down, but one of his wild shots has hit John’s daughter in the arm.

It’s the spur Linn the Troll needs to send Saga off the case.

So, having covered most of everything that happened to some degree or other – you’ve got to agree that that’s a helluva lot for two hours, surely the episodes must have been twice as long to get all that in – I will conclude with one predictive point. At the outset, Mr/Ms Mystery was following the heavily pregnant Asa but as soon as Tina sent through the artificial bump pictures, s/he turned round and drove off.

Now they’ve kidnapped the girl who’s really carrying Fat Freddie’s baby.

If it’s someone who’s got it in for him, the prime suspect is dear old patricidal cad, Claes. But if Creepy Annika was involved, and she only forced herself onto him after the sequence started, how and where did he come into the picture? But I’m pointing the finger at him. This time next week, we’ll know…