Friday SkandiKrime: The Bridge s04 e02

out of character


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.

Where have all the Skandis gone?

It’s been some time since I last had a BBC4 Saturday night EuroCrime series to blog. As November – the Month of the Drowned Dog, according to the early Ted Hughes poem of the same name – is upon us, I had been hoping for some to take us Baltic-wards, but the Beeb are continuing their current Australian-themed thrillers with another four-parter to succeed the just-concluded The Code.

So I’ve been looking around to see what prospects we have for some of our old favourites returning, using the word ‘favourite’ in its most elastic sense.

The most obvious candidate for a much-desired return would of course be The Bridge, stretching into an unprecedented fourth series. The news now is that this has been formally commissioned, though nothing is yet known about transmission dates. Creator Hans Rosenfeldt had previously said that Sofie Helin and Thure Lindhardt were ‘on board’ and that if the right idea came up, Kim Bodnia could return.

Apparently, there will only be eight episodes in series 4, which I regard with suspicion, and that it will definitely be the last as there will be no possibility of further stories after it, and yes, I interpret that the way you just have (unless Rosenfeldt plans to rip off the ending of The Killing (which has my permission to come back anytime, as does Borgen, though I know neither will). It will not directly succeed series 3, commencing eighteen months later, so the dangling plot of tracking down Henrik’s daughters won’t be featuring.

Also confirmed for a return is Iceland’s finest, Trapped, which has been confirmed as renewed with an even more complex murder mystery, to which I say “Can’t wait!”, except that for some reason its not going to appear until late 2018, so I’m going to have to.

Less welcome news is that the rather dodgy mess that is Bedrag (aka Follow the Money), starring Maverick Mess and Stoic Alf, has not only been commissioned for a second series but that said series broadcast its seventh episode (out of the traditional ten) last night in Scandinavia. This year’s subject is P2P Banking, which sounds dry as anything, so thank God we’ve got Maverick Mess’s antics to enliven things (I nearly said ‘look forward to’ but given my opinion if series 1, that would clearly be a misnomer).

I imagine we’ll be looking at that next spring, which gives me ample time to have my snarking pencil sharpened.

As predicted, there is no sign of anyone being enthusiastic about creating another series of Crimes of Passion, whilst Arne Dahl has not yet written any further A-Gruppe books to be turgidly refashioned as Arne Dahl TV programmes.

Turning to those other European countries that have featured in the Saturday night slot, there is sadly no indication of any repeat appearances for Molina and Guerin of Disparue (The Disappearance), but I have news of great horror for you: after disappearing with only the defiant whisper of a second series, in respect of which its Wikipedia entry hasn’t been updated in over two years, Salamander has indeed been recommissioned, and imdb has it down for an opening episode on some unknown date in 2018.

If this does indeed come to pass, it will mean a five year gap from the end of series 1 which, as we all so clearly remember writer Ward Huselmans proclaiming, was “writ(ten) for big audiences”: how’d that work out for you, old bean? Needless to say, if this ever happens, and if BBC4 elects to show it, I shall be waiting, not with a snarking pencil but with a poison ink fountain pen.

Though if they bring Tine Reymer back with it, I may find it in my heart to welcome her sturdy and blue-eyed good looks.

In the meantime, I would delight in being surprised by something Skandi designed to fill in the Saturday nights remaining until Xmas. After the next Australian short, there are five Saturday nights left in 2016, the last of them being Xmas Day.

It would be a fitting conclusion.

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.

Trapped: season 2

Earlier this year, under my Saturday ScandiCrime header, I reviewed the ten-part Icelandic series given the name, Trapped for the UK and Eire.

They say you should never quote yourself, but this (among other things) was what I had to say about the final episode:-

“I’d watch a Trapped 2 in a heartbeat, but though the Chinese port sale is still alive, and Kolbrun is still utterly determined to drive that through, and take all the money from it, I cannot see that Trapped 1 has left enough pieces unbroken, or at any rate of sufficient size, on which to stand another murder/mystery. I would be delighted to be proven lacking in sufficient imagination.”

So let the delight begin. Filming has begun on series 2, featuring the same main cast (yay!) in another ten-part story facing “an even more complex and challenging murder case”.

The drawback is that this is not expected to appear on our screens until late-2018, so that’s the next horizon to be crossed (I have for a long time been fixed on 2017 for the unexpected third season of Twin Peaks).

It’s good to have things to look forward to. When’s confirmation of The Bridge 4 coming out?

My Cup Runneth Over


Not only is it getting increasingly likely that there will be an unprecedented fourth series of The Bridgethough if this comes off, it will be the last one – but Kim Bodnia may well be back as Martin Rohde too!

It seems that the difference of direction that kept him out of series 3 was the show’s desire to have him out of prison, whereas Bodnia wanted only to appear if he was in prison (and absolutely right he was, too). Unfortunately, that spelled the death warrant for poor old Hans, Saga’s boss, since if Martin had been part of the story, it was his boss, Lillian, who would have been bumped off.

That leaves me with the urge, yet again, to find some kind of safe passage to Earth-2 where I can watch that version of series 3. Meanwhile, all fingers (and appendages) crossed that The Bridge 4 is commissioned, and that Martin will also be back.

Saturday SkandiCrime: The Bridge 3 – episodes 9 & 10

I’m not sure I have the words for this right now, but then I’m not sure I will have the words ever. What follows is an exploration of an experience that is I think unquantifiable.

The third series of The Bridge came to an end in a manner that verged upon the melodramatic, as opposed to the tragic inevitability that drew the second series to a close. There will be those who will criticise certain elements of the final half hour, and I suppose that if I were capable of objectivity at this point, I might join in such carping. In working its way to the still point that came to exist between Saga Noren and Henrik Sabroe there were things dismissable as cliches, and as unpardonable sentimentality.

But to paraphrase myself some thirty years ago, there are many things that are foolish and fallow in and off themselves that are given strength by context, and by the end I was as deep within The Bridge as was Emil Larsson in his painting that, at the last he attempted to recreate in the deaths of Freddie Holst, Jeanette’s baby and himself.

Yes, Emil Larsson was the murderer, leaving me exposed as right about it not being Creepy Annika and wrong about it being the miserable bastard Claes. Now was the time for the plot to be worked out, and the story burned with a clear light as all the red herrings, the misleading actions, the characters whose relevance to the story turned out to simply be that they were too near at the wrong time, were left by the wayside and episode 9 became a linear, focused story at last.

The opening scene relieved me of my worst fears: Jeanette gave birth, naturally, and the baby was taken. Yes, she was left to bleed out to death, and would have died but for Freddie having placed a controlling tracker in her mobile phone and found her just in time. But when you consider where they could have gone with the extraction of the baby – I am minded of issue 87 of 100 Bullets at this point – this was far less gruesome to watch.

So the hunt was on for the missing baby, and for Creepy Annika, and suspiciously missing Claes, whilst the Police tried to keep Freddie, in his monomania about his son, from throwing himself into the hands of the killer.

Police, in this instance, included Saga, whose suspension was almost laughably short. Speaking of laughably, Linn the Troll actually put the idiot Rasmus up as her replacement, which Henrik treated with the appropriate contempt and, as soon as it was ‘all resources’ had Saga back immediately.

As an aside, I had a hope that Rasmus would confound expectations and prove to be competent, but no, he was still crap. And Saga’s distrust of his combing of the scene of Jeanette’s discovery led to her and Henrik going back and finding a padlocked room, inside which a drugged Creepy Annika was held. This led to her and Claes being cleared in pretty short order and Annika being pretty swiftly punctured by the news that Claes had not reported her missing but seemed rather relieved that she’d gone! There are times when you really don’t want Saga to learn any social niceties, though she was sweet in her awkward apologies to John over his daughter being wounded, and even bought the girl a self-help manual to help her cope with crises!

With all leads cut off, Morton Anker came back into the picture, having tried to get into Fredie’s some months back with a friend who didn’t show. That re-directed suspicions back towards Freddie as an absentee father, which in turn led to investigations at an artificial examinations clinic. No, there were no records for Creepy Anna’s mother Renata, and without a name, the only way to get information was with a code. A code… Henrik’s got one of those and it opens the door. To donor Freddie Holst and mother Anna-Marie Larsson: mother of Emil, who, we rapidly realised, was so far out of sight of sanity that even Jodrell Bank couldn’t locate the echo of him.

Appropriately, a horribly drawn out situation leading to a seemingly inescapable last round of deaths was prevented by Saga and Henrik arriving in the nick of time, though Saga was none too quick to keep Emil, killer of Hans, from strangling to death. The final scenes took place on a small, flat, almost deserted island, Sandholm, adjacent to the Oresund Bridge (I now have the dream of one day driving across that Bridge): midway between Denmark and Sweden.

So the plot is done, but we all know there’s more to come. Linn the Troll complements Saga. Saga asks Henrik to come with her to Hans’ funeral tomorrow. Henrik has seen his girls around the house again but not Alice, his wife. Lilian arrives at his home with news Henrik tries to reject, with panicky intensity that sparked tears: a skeleton has been dug up, after being in the ground six years. For all he tries to void listening, Lilian is implacable. It has positively been identified as Alice. But, oh horror of horrors, she is alone. The girls are lost.

Henrik’s manic attempt to reinvestigate the whole thing overnight, whilst stuffing himself with uppers and downers till he passes out, ends with him in hospital. When Saga visits, he admits to using narcotics, non-stop since the disappearance. It’s a crime that will have to be reported… And in the echo Saga faces, she reminds Henrik of why she doesn’t let people get close to her.

But the spiral begins. At the station, Linn reports that Emil is dead, wrists slashed by a paperclip, stolen from the statement Saga wanted him to sign whilst she was distracted. Instead of reporting Henrik, Saga reports herself. Worse is to come: though Linn the Troll generously says she believes Saga didn’t touch her mother, the forensics mean an investigation will be made. Saga is cop enough to know that the evidence is bad for her, though she’s innocent, she’ll be convicted.

Henrik though discharges himself from the hospital. Lillian won’t allow him to work his daughters’ disappearance either officially or by giving him leave, so he resigns from the Denmark Police. Crossing the Bridge, he finds Saga’s desk cleared, is updated by John. He can’t find her anywhere, but she’s down at the train tracks, where her younger sister committed suicide. He finds her there, tries to talk her round, even starts towards her but she pulls a gun on him and, as the train races towards thrm, she moves, and it’s like Holy Mary, Mother of God, Jesus Christ, she hasn’t, they haven’t, no they couldn’t…

And I really feared, but instead Saga is on her knees, weeping uncontrollably, and I nearly was too, and hell’s bells, but she looked a completely different woman with her face that way, and Henrik puts his arms round her…

The very last scene is them reading the Missing Persons’ file. Henrik discovers a clue, a car stolen, not ten minutes from his house. It’s a lead. It’s also a six year old car theft that’s unlikely to lead anywhere. But they’ve neither of them anyhing better to do…

And yes, you can see for yourselves all the things that people will use to tear down this ending, but I can’t go there, I can never be that objective about it. The game has changed, and if there’s to be a The Bridge 4, which I sincerely hope there will, I haven’t a clue where it will go, but I will superglue myself to the screen if that’s what it takes to ensure I see it.

What did you think?

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…

Saturday SkandiCrime: The Bridge 3 – episodes 5 & 6

Thure Lindhart

Ooof! Once again, it’s hard to believe that was only two episodes, only two hours of TV, when it turned through so many developments, so much intense content, and yet with a pace that was all but slow. There is more, or so it seems, in a night of The Bridge 3 than in an entire series of most regular shows, for all the action they might cram in.

Again, I hardly know where to begin or where to go. Episode 5 felt like a quiet zone, a period during which the main plot made no advances, with neither further deaths nor significant breakthroughs. Where this part of the story developed, it was in half-directions, in tiny clues, such as the accidental discovery that all of the victims to date – save Father Copycat – had a small burn mark in their mouth: a brand, using the ancient Babylonian numbering system (which Saga, naturally, knows), and Henrik’s realisation that the numbers are part of the code on Morten Anker’s refrigerator.

What progressed further in this section of the unfolding wavefront of tales was the increasing undermining of Saga by new boss Linn. Linn has been described by others as Hobbit-like, with her compact, dumpy form, and rubbery face, but she’s increasingly becoming a troll. Saga’s mother has been in, laying accusations, which Linn obviously believes implicitly, because she’s having the case that put Saga’s parents in prison, so long ago, re-investigated, and she’s only gone and brought in the arrogant fool, Rasmus, the idiot of series 2, who is of course completely unbiased when it comes to our Saga.

I mean, he’s only drinking in avidly Mrs Noren’s blatant lies about Saga threatening her last night, so when Linn the troll brings Saga the news, late in episode 6, that her mother has killed herself, carbon monoxide poisoning in a garage with the engine running, it’s not difficult to foresee where a considerable portion of next week’s two episodes will be leading.

No, episode 5 deliberately stalled its investigation, leaving Linn sighing heavily about Saga’s lack of progress, undermining her focus by directing her away from areas where empathy might matter, and generally raising doubts in Saga’s mind about herself and her abilities.

What we had instead was the intensifying of the subsidiary, seemingly unconnected trails started last week. There’s Anna, the future CEO and ex-Eurovision star, exposed as a teenager shagger and, with her oh-so-understanding family around her (what a mother, almost as bad as Saga’s) forced to deny her young lover, with whom she is truly besotted. He’s besotted too, enough to slit his wrists when he’s publicly denounced as a mistake.

But once we get into episode 6, and meet beautiful, sexy, blonde Tina, the photographer who took the saucy snaps, we learn that she was tipped off by young Binjamin himself. Sexy, responsbility-denying, sacked and blacklisted Tina, who happens to be shagging Saga’s computer whiz colleague John. Tina, who ends episode 6 by getting a text offering her a job: reply to a Russian e-mail address. That’s the code off Morten’s fridge.

Oh, and it should be mentioned, if only in passing, that Anna’s husband Hakan becomes victim no 4 in episode 6, in the usual bizarre circumstances, with one (1) additional penis and two (2) eyes missing, awaiting victim no 5.

There’s nothing this week of the young boy obsessed with Lisa (nor of the lovely Lisa, sad to say), but a replacement attractive blonde of a certain age pops up. She is Asa (played by Anna Bjork). Where does she fit in?  Hang onto your hats, I’m going to see if it can all be made to fit.

Asa is married to Freddie Holst (played by Nicholas Bro of Killing 2 and 1864), an asset stripper and art lover, whose art collection contains works that echo certain recent bizarre crimes scenes. Asa is as heavily pregnant as young Jeanette, except that when she strips off her dress we see that she has maintained her trim figure and is wearing a plastic bulge. That’s because Jeanette is a surrogate, carrying Freddie’s baby, which is why Freddie, to whom Lukas’s bag was taken last week when it was nicked off Jeanette, has her kidnapped and separated from the idiot gambler Marc, so she can come to term in peace and quiet, despite Asa loathing the very sight of her. Marc, meanwhile, accepts 30,000 kroner to take his little self off, which he promptly bets on a hand of cards, with the keys to his and Jeanette’s house thrown in.

Still with me? Asa’s first husband was positive thinking guru Claes, who was also Freddie’s business partner before Freddie got him dried out (and promptly sold Claes’ company for a profit that Claes never saw). Asa’s sniffing around Claes again, much to the consternation of stalker Annika, who makes the mistake of getting too overtly stalkery with Claes, who chucks her out of his car in Denmark, except that he leaves Daddy’s body in her funeral parlour just in time for the post-death bruises that prove Claes suffocated dear old Daddy to come up. Annika promptly snaps them and blackmails herself back into Claes’ life (and presumably his bed, but we won’t go there, which is pretty much what you can see rushing through Claes’ mind every time he looks at Annika.

There may be no lovely Lisa this weeks but laconic Lars, her incurious husband, turned out to barely be hanging on to his company whilst Fat Freddie downsizes it. All the toys and stuff from Helle Anker’s death scene were bought out of a catalogue in Lars’ offices, ordered by and delivered to the workman who was first in and found Helle, and who just happened to quit to travel the world the next day.

Except that a car matching the colour of his came for the unlucky Hakan.

What else? I mentioned Lukas, didn’t I? Episode 5 started with someone setting him up for a rifle-shot through the shoulder, and ended with him being blown to buggery with bullets just as Henrik was about to drive him to the German border and wave him through. Why would a fine, upstanding policeman like Henrik do that? Because a fine upstanding policeman like Henrik is, as we already know, something of a druggie, and guess which dealer was blackmailing him with photos of Henrik getting his fix?

Henrik lies, big-time: Lukas wanted to confess to his drug-selling, clear himself of the murder, and no Saga, his wasn’t the text message that dragged him out of your bed at four in the morning. A mess of lies there that our determined detective  would already be penetrating if it weren’t for Linn the troll constantly cutting away at her focus.

I’ve found Henrik creepy thus far, but as episode 6 moved towards an end, the programme turned him on his head for me. Saga, not knowing how to feel about her mother’s death, unable to talk to the still-in-a-coma Hans because it’s after visiting hours, turns up at Henrik’s home and sanctuary. Unable to find a logical reason otherwise, he lets her in.

And in a quiet scene, he admitted to Saga not only his loss of wife and children, but that he sees them and hears them. That Alice is sat at the table, listening to them, visible to him, invisible to Saga, even as they speak. It’s a confession of madness, madness accepted and absorbed so deeply that it has become normal and real, and the helpless ruefulness Thure Lindhardt brought to this scene, underlit by a wilfulness that emphasised his determination to cling to it, had tears forming in the corners of my eyes. Quite the very best moment in the evening.

Only four more episodes to go, and I’m buggered if I can even see a line of dots yet, let alone how anybody’s going to join them, but I’m dreading the Saturday after next, because then it’ll all be over and how bloody long is it going to be until we get The Bridge 4?

Saturday SkandiCrime: The Bridge 3 – episodes 3 & 4

Sonja Richter

To be honest, I am not having a good time of it at the moment, for reasons I don’t propose to go into, and I mention this only to explain why the two hours of Saturday night that are devoted to The Bridge 3 are the two most important of the week, because they are the two hours that I am furthest away from myself, immersed completely in this series, that is developing tracks and lines and branches almost beyond my ability to keep up.

For instance, a quarter hour into episode 4 and Saga and Henrik have captured the killer, which turns out to be creepy Rikard, the tarantula keeper, necklace-borrower and altogether creepy guy who’s obsessed with the lovely Lisa  (as who wouldn’t be if you threw a brown paper bag over her extreme right-wing principles). It’s far too soon for a solution, which is why a large part of episode 3 had already been used to set up another curious situation that I’ll get to in a moment.

But Rikard, who’s refused lawyers and responses to questions, turns out to be a red herring. Oh, he’s killed Father Christiansen and tried to get Helle Anker’s wife, Natalie, but he’s not responsible for Helle herself, nor Hans (recovered, strung up in the Ghost Train in a deserted funfair, minus right hand, currently in coma), and the new third victim, Lars, a 72 year old Swede, retired PE Teacher, whose missing bit appears to be his meat’n’veg.

To add to the various trails by now crossing the viewers’ path, if not yet the Police’s, Morton Anker, he of the bushy beard and PTSD, who didn’t even get in to last week’s review, is shot dead at the start of episode 3 by three closely grouped bullets to the upper left chest. Morton manages to declare that he was shot by his ‘brother’ though clearly not a biological one, since the only qualifier in that category is four years old.

Morton’s ‘brother’ is likely to be his brother in arms, Lukas Swendstrup, now the only survivor of the trio accused of army rape. Lukas has turned himself into a self-made social worker on the surface and a local gangster underneath. There’s a very intricate bit of business with a stupid little sod who’s gotten himself into 78,000 kroners worth of gambling debt with Lukas, whose fat is pulled out of the fire by his heavily-to-the-point-of-waters-breaking-any-moment pregant girlfriend Jeanette.

Jeanette has to drive to Sweden, collect a very heavy bag and bring it back. Unfortunately, it is stolen for her in very professional manner, examined by two complete strangers, and pronounced unneeded. Jeanette returns empty-handed , having lost the bag, only for Lukas to wipe the debt and tell her and her idiot boyfriend to piss off. His assistant then produces the bag.

Then there’s the new CEO of Ekdahl Homes, a family house-building business just expanding into Denmark. In the midst of all this elevation and expansion, she’s finding time to shag the balls off the teenage son of her best friend. Except that episode 4 ends with her indiscretions being exposed, with photos, across the Danish press.

Episode 4 also introduces the inspirational lecturer and bookwriter whose father is dying in hospital. Compassionately, but effectively, he sticks his fingers up Daddy’s nose and suffocates him before going off to his next lecture. He’s being stalked pretty obviously by the vivacious but somewhat creepy Annika, a funeral director, who then turns up at his hotel that night to tout for business – after she’s slaked what will no doubt turn out to be a very small portion of her lust on his lily-white body.

Where all of this is leading and how it all connects is utterly unfathomable this far, but I am hanging on every instant.

Sex is definitely in the air (especially every time Sonja Richter’s on screen: she did go out and get those leather pants, you know). There’s creepy Henrik still (the adjective creepy is applicable to a lot of people in this series). It’s weird how he denies being married to John the computer bod, yet he’s got his lovely dark-haired wife and two golden-haired daughters at home. There’s an early clue in the way he switches off the TV whilst the girls are watching it, which is done so casually it’s barely noticeable. And lovely wife is pestering him to approach Saga with this case he’s worrying about.

But yet again he’s off to the singles group, this time at the local trotting stadium. Episode 1’s dark-haired lady gives him the cold shoulder but look who’s here? None other than Saga Noren, needing to relax with some sex (strictly in accordance with her strictures) and reasoning that Henrik’s singles group is an easy way to get some complication-free fucking.

You know it’s a mistake, it’s a serious mistake, and nothing good is going to come of this, but yes, they do. Saga, having never had sex with a colleague before, asks Henrik if they announce it at work and thankfully he says no. Fur hilven!

I’ve refrained from commenting upon Saga until now because she is simply the most compelling part of these two episodes. As much as I miss Martin, I’m not missing Martin, if you know what I mean, because Saga is carrying this series single-handedly. She’s missing the hell out of Hans, and even she’s beginning to become aware of it, but she’s coming under serious pressure from two angles now, and I’m starting to get seriously worried about where this is going to go.

The first is her mother. Mama Noren is invading Saga’s life more and more, inviting herself into the squadroom, contacting Hans’ substitute, the overly-serious Linn. Papa has died, but that’s entirely secondary to Mama trying to get Saga to admit she was wrong over Mama hurting both Saga and her sister with her Munchausens by Proxy. Mama’s calm, almost smug insistence on Saga changing her mind is creepy and controlling and she seems to have taken in Linn, who is pressing Saga to behave, well, normally, and giving entirely too much credence to Mama. To the point of leading Saga directly to Papa’s Memorial Service which Linn is convinced she must attend. Saga drives away, but that’s not going to do her any good with the uncomprehending Linn.

There’s one more thing. Henrik does ask Saga to give a fresh perspective on his case. It’s a Missing Persons file from 2009, pretty thick too. Not Henrik’s case. Then we see Henrik back at home. His wife, dresses in a silver nightie, looks in on him. A second later, she’s not there. Between that and the TV earlier… But my intuition comes only just before the punch.

The Missing Person case involves three people. One lovely dark-haired woman. And two golden-haired daughters…