This is a full review of The Bridge: Series 4, Episode 1. Don’t read on unless you’re completely up-to-date on the BBC2 schedule.
Hey, you can come out from behind the cushion now. Is everyone ok? Take a deep breath, shake your fist at BBC2 for making you wait a whole week for the next episode and let’s process that remarkable hour of television.
So The Bridge is back with a bang, gleefully ramping up the tension, messing with our expectations of Saga and Henrik, all while introducing the usual cast of victims, ne’er-do-wells, and various hangers-on, some of whom will inevitably be added to the final body count.
We begin with a striking close up of Saga’s face, silent, dark and isolated. She wakes and sighs, remembering she’s in a nightmare she can’t escape from. She’s been in prison since the end of series 3 and I was worried her character development and personal resilience would be set back to zero but she’s doing her best. She awaits the outcome of her retrial for her manipulative mother’s murder. Remember she has a motive, no real alibi (she was set up to be alone in a graveyard when her mother died) and there was forensic evidence all stacked up against her. It sees a new witness has come forward, but Saga’s simple belief in right and wrong, and the power of the law has been firmly shaken. And she’s floundering. If she’s not a cop then where does that leave her. Without the job who is she?
The tension in the prison was palpable but having watched Orange is the New Black and Locked Up I’m sure you could see it’s always the overly-friendly, needy girl you have to watch out for, not the notorious cop killers. It was a shame the attack on Saga was telegraphed from a mile off. Her life blood draining away is horrific to watch but it’s not exactly a solid cliffhanger. Is any drama series really brave enough to kill off their beloved main character in episode 1?
Speaking of love, has there ever been a gift so ugly and yet so beautiful as Saga’s mug bestowed on Henrik during the prison visit? It looks like Henrik and Saga’s friends with benefits relationship from series 3 is blossoming despite their very particular and difficult situation. It doesn’t seem Saga-ish to give anyone a gift. Things must be getting serious between them. Henrik does his best to offer his support, and reassure her that she can get through this. Stick to your routines he says. “But they’re not my routines” she says, “Someone else decides everything”. She’s doing much better than I’d have expected, and he seems to be good for her. Henrik is coping better with life now; no drugs, no relapses. But as soon as he thinks about moving on his missing children are haunting him again. They won’t let him go until he’s found them.
As for the central murder plot, like Series 3, it may end up being the sideshow to Saga and Henrik’s personal life. At this stage though, it’s too early to tell. I’m sure the usual sections of the internet will be outraged that a woman is killed in a shockingly brutal fashion. I know torture porn isn’t healthy and we should demand more from crime writers. But this is series four of an unimaginably successful show. Why would they change the magic formula now?
It always seems daunting to meet so many characters in one hour, but rest assure it’ll be worth it in the end. Here’s a quick run down of the runners and riders so far:
- The victim is Margarethe Thormod and because she’s the Head of Danish Immigration the first suspect is Taariq Shirazi, hiding out in the gay community desperate not to be sent back to a repressive Middle-Eastern regime where he will likely be executed. As Margarethe is stoned to death there’s a religious link for racists and anti-immigrant groups to get worked up about. I’m confident the murderer is not Taariq.
- Margarethe’s husband Niels and secretary do look mighty close, as Henrik’s partner Jonas points out. Do either of them have an alibi?
- Creepy Patrik is instantly annoying. How does he not realise, especially after #MeToo and #TimesUp that it’s not ok to impersonate your brother to pick up women?
- Patrick’s twin brother Richard looks to be a fairly good journalist doing a difficult job, but the pair are obviously and completely out of their depth investigating this activist group Red October, who I imagine are just about to take the leap into actual out-and-out terrorism. I can’t find any sympathy for these silly boys yet.
- Taxi driver Dan is a suspect because he may have been the last person to see Margarethe alive and he’s got previous convictions for violence against women.
- Dan’s estranged wife and son, Sofie and Christoffer in are hiding from him perhaps in some sort of witness protection. This goes spectacularly wrong extremely quickly!
- Sofie’s boss is instantly shifty. He may well turn out to be just as abusive and controlling as her former husband. He wants her to come and live in his remote village, and needs to get the blessing of an older women for this to happen (his mother maybe?) Are we off into religious cult territory this time around?
- And Henrik’s Danish parter Detective Jonas. The 1970s are calling – they want their attitude back. I must admit a certain soft spot for Jonas despite him being awful and clearly a nightmare to work with, especially in famously progressive and tolerant Scandinavia. He reminds me of Gene Hunt from Life on Mars. Sure he may not be a fan of spaghetti hoops, but his sweater game is strong, and in scandi noir, that’s very important.
So Episode 1 leaves us absolutely desperate for the next installment which is a whole week away! For long-standing Scandi fans that’ll take some getting use to after the regular two hour Saturday night Scandi marathons of BBC4. But it can’t be denied – The Bridge is popular enough to deserve a BBC2 slot and if the audience grows because of it, that can only be a good things for TV drama in general.