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 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.