SPOILER ALERT: This is for people watching The Bridge at BBC4 pace. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen episodes seven and eight of the third series – and if you’ve seen further ahead, please do not post spoilers.
You can read the previous recaps here.
“Hey, Wiki!” This, my friends, is as close as we are ever likely to get to a Bridge happy ending. Yes, Saga is being investigated for the murder of her mother and her chances don’t look great – a motive, no real alibi and forensic evidence against her. Yes, the badly decomposed body that had been in clay for the past six years turned out to be that of Henrik’s wife, Alice, was and his girls may now be out there, alone and still suffering. Yes, Hans is dead and Martin is still in jail. And, yes, Rasmus is still knocking around somewhere, swishing that ponytail of his. But what’s any of that when we had those final looks between this pair of loved up off-duty coppers?
When Saga looks over at Henrik, there’s no cold case it doesn’t seem possible to solve, no maniacal serial killer it doesn’t seem plausible that they could catch; such is the power of the touchingly awkward love (is it OK to use the L-word?) blossoming between these two. I haven’t been this happy about a fictional couple since Wall-E fell for Eva.
But to those for whom this ending is too saccharine, have no fear, it’s not like they’ll be mini-breaking in Paris anytime soon. Where others might take unemployment or mandatory leave as a good excuse to put on tracky bums and watch Trisha, Saga and Henrik are taking it as a chance to focus on a whole different murder and abduction case, this time of Henrik’s wife and children. Season four – let’s all cross everything! – is looking like it would be a brave new world in which Saga and Henrik are actually a couple – a crime-fighting, trouser-into-boots-tucking couple – Linn is less Nurse Ratched and more Hans’s slightly grumpy, but somehow worthy, successor; and there’s even a chance that, after his cock-up this week, Rasmus might get the demotion he so heartily deserves.
Like we’ve said before, the Saga of the end of season three is a totally different cookie from the Saga that dobbed Martin in at the end of two – she’s reluctant to even try to save a hanging Emil for his role in Hans’s death, whereas she left Martin no leeway for his equivalent bout of non-regulation thinking. Although she does come out on the right side of the law, it’s a close-run thing. But now, having thought similar thoughts to those that led Martin to murder Jens, might Saga “I can’t socialise with a murderer” Norén relax her stance towards him? We’ve all read that Kim Bodnia’s out, but is it so misguided to think he might allow himself one cheeky prison-visiting-hours cameo?
And so to the much less gripping business of the murders (as many of you have noted, it speaks volumes about how far this season has come that we’re not all in it just for the high-octane plotlines) – I, for one, swallowed a giant red herring, bones and all, at the end of these last episodes. Annika as the killer felt too obvious because it was, even if she had had help. As many of you predicted, wild-haired art buff Emil was our man. But, having seemed infernal, was I alone in feeling just a tiny bit sorry for Annika by the end? She hadn’t been revelling in the latest casket designs at a Gothenburg undertakers’ trade fair after all, instead she’d been locked up, just one building over from where a shackled Jeanette had her baby and nearly bled to death, and pretty convincingly stitched up – Emil had even gone so far as to totally re-do the top floor of her house into a kind of murder HQ. Poor Annika looked crushed when Saga responded with her typical bluntness to her question about whether Claes had reported her missing: “No. He seemed relieved that you were gone.” And while I think Claes would be wise to continue to fear her wrath, instead of the cold-blooded killer she was painted to be, she turned out to be yet another victim of Emil’s twistedness.
So to Emil … while last week it was already clear what links Emil had to the victims, what wasn’t clear was the link to Holst. This week it turned out that Emil – dun dun durrrrr – is actually Freddie Holst’s son. The code that had been on Morten Anker’s fridge and then burned into the mouths of all the victims – Emil included, yikes – was in fact the code for the fertility clinic (“all the mothers get one”) where a young, Holst had 20 odd years earlier left some of his stash, which had been used by one Anna-Maria Larsson. And therein also lies the explanation for Morten identifying his killer as “brother” (though wouldn’t he have a different code, since it relates to the mother, not the sperm donor? Why would the same one be on his fridge?). As we learn from Colbert’s CCTV footage, Morten had in fact turned up some weeks earlier, seemingly high, at Freddie’s gate asking to see his father, “or not my father, but the real one. We were supposed to be here, both of us.” Happy families this is not.
As with all the previous murders, plans for the last hoorah – the simultaneous death of father and son, Freddie and Emil, by hanging, and the possible death of Freddie’s new son if the drop from Freddie’s arms was enough to do it – were stage-managed in the extreme. Again inspired by art, this week the artwork provided one of the last clues Saga and Henrik needed to track Emil down. The painter of the work, A Very Nice Day, one Claus Arnesen, still being alive and kicking and living on Saltholm island, midway between Malmö and Copenhagen, also provided an excellent excuse to get the police helicopter out for a spin. The barn shown in the painting was but a few-kilometre jog for our crime-fighting pair, and there they found Emil and Freddie hanging, but still alive, with Freddie yet to drop his baby. Phew.
As for motive, Emil gives us plenty of insight into his barbed logic, recalling the words Morten Anker had said to him: “Why should I suffer when those responsible for my torment do not?”; talking of powerlessness, righting wrongs, wanting to make everything his father loved (namely art) “ugly and twisted” and ruing the day he was born.
It’s a charged exchange between Emil and Saga, with a strong sense that she understands, more than he gives her credit for, what it feels like “not to want to die”, but rather “want never to have been born”. A statement that leads her via Hans’s funeral, neatly, though a total emotional mess, back to the train tracks where her sister had killed herself.
And so to the final almost unbearably wrought, suspenseful 20 or so minutes where Henrik and Saga must both, in turn, ricochet back from their own individual brinks to save the other from theirs – what more noir-ish way to bond is there than through this shared grief and sense of hopelessness? As Henrik puts it: “I need you!” And, as she weeps, really weeps, in his arms, it’s brutally clear she needs him too. (What we need is a season four!)
Thanks to you all for all your insightful comments. I think the one prediction I made that came good was that you lot out-sleuthed me by a Nordic mile. Thanks for your lovely company!