The Bridge 3, BBC4, with Sofia Helin

Programme Name: The Bridge - TX: n/a - Episode: The Bridge - series 3 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Saga Norén (SOFIA HELIN) - (C) Carolina Romare - Photographer: Carolina Romare

Bridge over troubled water: Saga faces a personal crisis

Saga Noren returns – without Martin Rohde – in a typically strange, chilling new investigation

★★★½

BBC4, date and time to be announced

SERIES 2 finished on a shattering note with the arrest for murder of one of The Bridge‘s two principles, Martin Rohde. Together with his detective partner Saga Noren, the characters had defined one of the most original and popular of the new wave of Nordic noir series.

Now series 3 is here, but Martin is not. Kim Bodnia, the lugubrious actor who had played straight man to Sofia Helin’s Asperger’s detective, did not like the direction the show’s writers wanted to take Martin, so he left.

Like Laurel without Hardy, or Lennon without McCartney, there is no doubt the show’s chemistry is upset. However, The Bridge is largely Saga’s story and on first glimpse of the new series I would say there is a good chance that the writers could be about to take her in intriguing new directions.

We meet her again as she about to be plunged into another weird and chilling new case. A Danish woman, a campaigner for lesbian and gay rights, is found murdered in a grotesque tableau with a group of mannequins, all having lurid smiles lipsticked onto their faces. Because she has been discovered in Malmo, Sweden, Saga is called in, once again partnered with a detective from Denmark.

So far, so familiar. But there is needle in the relationship, as Saga’s new sidekick resents her as the woman who is responsible for getting Martin imprisoned. And then Saga’s robot-like mask cracks a little when her boss, Hans Petterson, asks why she never mentions Martin, to whom she had grown close despite their initially awkward relationship.

She replies that she will visit him, but only when he is released in nine-and-a-half years. ‘I can’t associate with murderers’ – which is as close as she’s ever going to get to saying that she misses him badly.

The opening episode ends explosively for Saga

With her new partner, Saga investigates Morten Anker, the alienated and volatile son of the victim, who suffers from post-traumatic stress after serving in Afghanistan. As Saga and her partner close in, the opening episode ends explosively, and we see our heroine plunged into a personal crisis like none we’ve ever seen her in before.

Bridge fans will no doubt be disappointed that Kim Bodnia has departed, but by the end of the episode they will probably be hanging on to see what happens next.

Creator and writer Hans Rosenfeldt has a genius for coming up with twisted killers and he’s done it again. It will be fascinating to see what he does with his next thriller, Marcella, which has been commissioned by ITV, set in London and stars Anna Friel.

Check out…

Sofia Helin on the new series

Kim Bodnia leaves The Bridge

The Bridge series 1 PREVIEW

Saga (Sofia Helin) and Martin (Kim Bodnia) and the Bridge. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★½

BBC4, starts Saturday, 21 April, 9pm 

Story: The body of a woman is found on Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. An uneasy pairing of detectives from each country, Saga Norén (Sweden) and Martin Rohde (Denmark), must join forces to stop the killer.

Once again it looks as though Nordic TV noir is giving British television honchos a lesson in making drama that is ambitious, multi-storied and suspenseful with this new 10-part Swedish/Danish co-production.

It begins hauntingly on Oresund Bridge, which links the two countries, when the body of a woman is found laid across a line marking the border between them. BBC4 is starting the series with a double bill that introduces cleverly woven storylines centring on a very disfunctional pairing of a female cop from Sweden and a male one from Denmark.

From the opening moments it is captivating and mysterious, with the city nightscapes filmed stunningly to give both international settings an eerie, alienating quality.

Detective Rohde at the scene of the grisly crime

Saga wears leather trousers and drives a Porsche
Oresund Bridge is an impressive modern structure, but when its night-time lights go out for almost a minute we know something bad is about to happen. When they come on again, the body of a woman, a leading politician from Malmo, is discovered.

The two detectives, Saga Norén and Martin Rohde, meet and decide it’s a Swedish case. He returns home, but when Saga’s team try to move the body they make a shocking and grisly discovery that means the Swedes and Danes have to work together. It’s as though the murderer has planned it this way.

Saga is, as one of her colleagues puts it mildly, ‘a bit odd’. Blonde, wearing leather trousers and driving a Porsche, she is more like Star Trek‘s Spock than a Nordic detective. Lacking tact, self-awareness (she constantly strips down to her bra in the office to change her top) or diplomacy, she operates purely on logic.

Who is the moustachioed man?

‘She’s a bit odd’ – Saga

And what a team she makes with Martin. She talks to her Danish colleague as though he were a child. When he says he can’t sit in her office because he has just had a vasectomy – though he has just sat in his car to drive over to her – she tells him he makes her uncomfortable. ‘Pretend the seat is your car.’

How did the killer dim the bridge’s lights? How many victims will there be? And in another storyline, who is the moustachioed man offering a hiding place in the country to a battered wife and her son? The killer? There is a potent mystery to unravel here.

Episode one finishes with a pulsating scene in which an obnoxious journalist is trapped in a boobytrapped car while bomb-disposal experts try to free him.

Finally, the killer delivers a message to Saga and Martin. ‘We’ve got interesting times ahead of us…’

You can say that again.

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