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.