SPOILER ALERT: This is for people watching The Bridge at BBC4 pace. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen episodes one and two of the third series – and if you’ve seen further ahead, please do not post spoilers.
Welcome to The Bridge series-three blog. I will be recapping each Saturday night double bill and trying my best to keep apace with the sleuthing of Saga and whoever – sob – she might be partnering up with.
Firstly, can I say how much I’ve missed this show. How is it that it manages to be simultaneously bleak enough to make Lear’s heath scene look like a massive LOL and yet somehow, when those opening credits roll, as comforting as a bowl of butternut squash?
Since the last series, Martin has been banged up for murdering Jens, the ex-colleague who murdered his son in series one; Saga has either bought a new pair of identical leather trousers and military green overcoat, or else kept the originals in suspiciously good nick; Hans and Lillian have fallen in love and got married (did anyone else think they seemed to be getting along nicely at the pre-emptive case-closed party in episode nine of last season?); and Malmö’s finest desk cop, John, has morphed into Cypher from The Matrix.
As we’ve come to expect, this series ploughs straight into deeply political territory, this time centring on LGBT rights and gender debates. We open with one seriously stage-managed murder. The victim: Helle Anker, a lesbian who recently set up Denmark’s first gender-neutral school. The killer is seemingly motivated by a fanatical belief in the sanctity of the nuclear family. But we don’t know whether this is the real deal or whether, as in previous series, the writers are leading us down the first of a series of blind alleys. Remember how, in season one, Jens’s (AKA the Truth Terrorist’s) motives of shining a light on social issues soon fell away to reveal his true motivation of getting revenge on cuckolder Martin.
The loss of Martin looms over these first two episodes, as it likely will for the remainder of the series. As you’ll no doubt remember, last season ended on an almost unbearably emotional note, with Saga standing in the rain having dobbed Martin in – ever a stickler for the rules, even over loyalty to her only friend – and Martin being hauled off in the back of a police car, the look of a harpooned whale in his eyes.
The question on everyone’s mind is surely how this show will work without Martin’s Lacey to Saga’s Cagney – who will understand her, as Hans claims to and Martin certainly did? And so, these first two episodes are partly about Saga trying to get along with new Danish partners while she misses her former one, in her own, unremitting way.
Saga and Hanne Thomsen
The first murder might have taken place in Sweden, but the victim is Danish and lives in Copenhagen – cue Lillian assigning the case to a purposefully striding Hanne against her will. Like Martin, Hanne’s not averse to a bit of rule-bending – is this a Danish thing? She certainly paints uptightness and political correctness as Swedish traits, snorting at the mention of gender-neutral schooling.
It’s a sad scene when Saga clumsily attempts the kind of small talk so encouraged by Martin – “Do you have any hobbies?”, “What are your family relations like?” – only to be told that this is a strictly working relationship.
Is there more to Hanne asking to be reassigned again just one day in, or do we take her at face value that it’s “just you-and-me related”? I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of her, despite the gory incident at Morten’s trailer.
Saga and Henrik Sabroe
I don’t know what on earth to make of this guy. I spent the whole first episode wondering if he was going to emerge as a suspect, and wondering how (and why) the woman in his life – his wife?! – puts up with him, only for him to emerge as Saga’s new partner. His bed-hopping antics make Martin look like a saint, while, to stay awake, he pops pills that he keeps in a sandwich bag in his glove compartment. He also seems to go to very Scandi singles nights at museums, pick women up and then go home and tell his wife (?) all about it. Baffling.
And what’s the deal with him wanting to partner up with Saga, while Hanne (and likely the rest of the Danish police force) are trying to avoid her? Why does he want to get close to her? It was a pretty dodgy move to not cancel the murdered priest’s restaurant reservation, instead inviting Saga along. But you’ve got to hand it to him, he was ahead of Saga on clocking the coffee rings that matched Aleksandr’s newspaper to the one in Hans’s ransom video. And if he can in fact “map” an area just by standing still and steely-eyed then I, for one, am impressed. And I must say, he’s had a few good responses to Saga’s endearingly socially inept ways: “Aren’t you confusing me with a female friend from 20 years ago?” and “Thanks, Wikipedia!” being favourites.
What else do we know so far?
An awful lot, actually, considering we’re only two episodes in. For all of its brooding, bleached shots of Scandi cityscapes, one of the great things about this show is that the pace would keep even Jack Bauer on his toes.
• Two people have been murdered, Helle Anker and Fabien Christenson, the first Danish priest to conduct same-sex marriages. Both murders seem politically motivated.
• Lise Friise Anderson is a hateful vlogger who teaches her daughter to punch the school bully, hard, and goes on telly to stick up for her violence-inciting views by citing freedom of expression. Having named both murder victims in her vlogs, it seems a coincidence that both have met sticky ends soon after, although she does seem genuinely surprised to hear Fabien has been killed.
• Lise’s husband, Lars, is the CEO of the transport company where Helle was murdered. As Saga points out, this was a deliberate move – the murder could just as easily been done at the “body disposal site”. But is this just a fairly blatant attempt to underline the link to Lise? Or should we really be suspicious of Lars? His disinterest in the murder on his premises and lax approach to security make me think there’s something we don’t know here. The scarf tucked into coat look makes me doubly on edge.
• Helle’s son from her first marriage, Morten, is a suspect – at least in his mum’s murder. Suffering from PTSD after serving in Afghanistan, he has been living the life of a hermit in a trailer. While it seems very unlikely he did it, it would be good to know what those numbers on his fridge are. And when he keeps saying he “didn’t touch her” is he referring just to his mum, or is he thinking back to the woman his brigade was accused of raping on tour in Helmand? And did anyone else find his wording a bit odd when he told his mum’s wife that “somebody else” touched her, “not him”? Wouldn’t you just say “I didn’t do it”, unless you knew more about who did do it?
• Lise and Lars have a cleaner, Rikard, who seems very pleasant, merrily working away in his marigolds. But still waters clearly run deep. We know he wears operating theatre shoe covers at home, while feeding his pet snakes and tarantulas. We also know he likes to “borrow” Lise’s necklace – he looks very pleased with himself as he relaxes in it. Does he idolise her and want to impress her by murdering those she disapproves of? Bit obvious for The Bridge, perhaps, but if ever there was a classic creepy murder suspect, this is your guy.
• A man named Aleksandr was released from prison and couldn’t find some money. He thinks his ex-friend has stolen it, and he may be right, he has stolen his ex-partner after all. This subplot is brought into the frame when Alexandr abducts Hans (who he claims blackmailed him to force him to grass on others). Things go from bad to worse for Hans when Aleksandr is shot by an unknown assailant (Saga and Henrik having just failed to find him) meaning he falls instead into the hands of someone who (can we assume?) is the chloroforming main murderer.
• We also know that there’s something very dodgy going on with the ex-friend of Aleksandr’s, a man who lives in a heinous white bungalow and wears matching baby blue polo shirts and V-neck sweaters. Where did the money he has supposedly stolen from Aleksandr come from in the first place? And will this subplot now weave its way into the main one, as the Aleksandr/Hans one did?
Please do tell me what you made of these first two episodes in the comments section below – I shall look forward to your superior below-the-line theorising week-on-week.
Thoughts and observations
- What has become of Gertrud’s shadowy killer from series two? Can we expect this Chris O’Dowd outline-a-like to resurface in series three?
- What’s the deal with Saga’s insistence that the smiley faces drawn on the victims are meant to be emoticons, not clowns? This up-to-date slant seems at odds with the “old school” chloroforming the killer favours, as well as the threatening, if eloquent, typewritten letters they appear to be sending.
- Why introduce Hanne Thomsen for just one episode? Surely there must be more to come from her?
- How do we square the Saga-hugging, Lillian-loving Hans with the man Aleksandr says blackmailed him for information? Answers on a postcard.
- I know Lillian’s always been sartorially on-point, but this season she’s like a walking Acne advert.
- Killers in The Bridge are nothing if not theatrical – the stage-lit and laid dinner table, complete with toy food and trucks, looked like something off a Punchdrunk set.
- Can we just take a moment to remember how brilliant Adam Buxton’s take on the theme’s lyrics is.
- Unlike Hanne, I’m quite taken with this gender-neutral pronoun, “hen”.
- Did anyone else grin when Saga did her classic bra-out-in-the-office number?
- What is going on with Saga’s family? It seems fairly certain that her sister Jennifer was frequently ill, and perhaps it wasn’t her mum abusing her. Does that mean whatever mysterious crime Saga committed was in vain? And will the mum keep schtum about it, or should Saga take seriously her threat to tell her colleagues?