Admirers of the mesmerising Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge (and they are legion) had been on tenterhooks waiting for the final season of this most accomplished of Nordic Noir shows. And now those who did not see the recent showing of the BAFTA-winner on BBC TWO — or those who want a permanent memento of their favourite female Scandinavian detective (The Killing’s Sarah Lund notwithstanding) — will be pleased to hear of Arrow TV’s release the DVD & Blu-ray of Saga’s final outing.
Ill-matched partners – and sometime lovers — Saga Noren and her troubled police colleague Henrik find themselves engaged in a series of a series of macabre killings that begin when a high-ranking government officer, the director general of the Immigration Service, is discovered stoned to death – the method favoured in theocracies. Do the deaths have a personal connection with the Danish police team that Henrik (still seeking his missing daughters) is part of? The fourth series cleverly plays on elements that have been introduced in earlier series, building inexorably to the final poignant scene with the damaged Saga (and if you haven’t heard about it, I promise you will not be reading about it here). But now is perhaps the perfect time for revisiting the entire series, and Arrow have obligingly also issued a box of every season, starting from the first series from 2011.
The British taste for dramatised Scandinavian crime was piqued by The Killing, and, to a large degree, the momentum of this UK enthusiasm was maintained with this later cult series. The first season of Björn Stein’s The Bridge acquired a dedicated following, not least for its infuriating but likable sociopathic heroine. The series, with one caveat, is one of the quirkiest and most intriguing entries in the field, utilising familiar themes but giving them an idiosyncratic twist. A body is discovered on the Oresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark (two bodies, in fact – in gruesome fashion, the torso and legs belong to different victims) and the ill-assorted female/male cop duo with equal jurisdiction obliged to work together on the case (one Swedish, one Danish) are wonderfully played by Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia. Helin’s eccentric Saga Norén certainly possessed the capacity to become as much of a cult figure as The Killing’s Sara Lund – though she takes the latter’s lack of interpersonal skills to almost cosmic levels, sporting a hilarious inability to relate to other human beings; in this area, she makes Lisbeth Salander looked like an agony aunt. Saga, for instance, takes Erica Jong’s conception of the ‘zipless fuck’ to hilarious levels – sex for her is an itch that simply need to be occasionally scratched, with zero emotional commitment. There are a slew of mystifying plot strands thrown up in the early episodes which will kept viewers comprehensively hooked – for instance, who was the scarred, half-dressed homeless girl who is poisoned in the second episode? Sofia Helin, an actress whose own slight facial scarring points up her own powerful appeal balance the schizophrenic elements of her character with total understanding, while Kim Bodnia – functioning as the viewer’s eyes (though which we review his eccentric partner) – does quite as well with a far less showy part. The caveat? The super-intelligent, super-ingenious villain – when finally revealed – perhaps lack the final ounce of evil charisma his character calls for.
The Bridge: Complete Season IV & The Bridge I-IV DVD & Blu-ray, various directors/Arrow TV