How wonderful – Saturday night, 9pm, BBC4 and another Nordic thriller. We’ve had The Killing, then a burst of coalition politics in Borgen, what could The Bridge do?
It could take everything The Killing did so well, and expand on it, that’s what. From the pre-opening sequence when the iconic Oresund Bridge linking Denmark to the rest of Scandinavia was plunged into darkness, the atmosphere was creepy and enthralling. Next thing we knew, there was a Swedish beauty bang on the line between the two countries. In two bits. Who just happened to be a senior Swedish politician, upstairs. And A Danish prostitute, downstairs. A gruesome murder and a jurisdiction nightmare to boot – perfect.
One of the things I love best about these Nordic tales is how seemingly disparate strands slowly come together. Besides the main plot of the bride crime, we met the rich, hollow-eyed beauty Charlotte, intent to use means, fair or foul, to secure her husband's heart transplant. Except he didn't seem to be that grateful, after all. Why we were introduced to this pair has yet to be revealed, but it promises to get interesting. As does Veronika, leaving her violent husband Soren to sit it out in a strange little farmhouse, courtesy of her seventies-relic Alan-Rickmanesque benefactor Stefan, who's now got another hollow-eyed beauty on his hands, and and bare-breasted come to that.
With all these offbeat stories, it was reassuring that the main storyline backbone, the identity of the two victims on the bridge, and the emergence of a killer intent on examining Scandinavia's social ills - "five of them, one by one" - was so strong. If that main idea, that of a disenfranchised one-man avenger gone rogue, was a bit borrowed from other plots such as the film Seven, it racked up the tension quickly - a reporter trapped in a car with a ticking bomb, and it's only the first episode of 10.
Saga's colleagues on the arrival of her new Danish colleague: “Does he know she’s… a bit odd?” “He’ll find out.”
In Saga Noren, the Swedish wing of the operation, we have a new Scandinavian police heroine worthy to join the ranks of Sarah Lunde and Brigitte - for bleak beauty, unnerving intensity and, on occasion, sheer bloody-mindedness. From the go, she filed a report against her Danish counterpart for letting an ambulance across the crime scene, she thought nothing of interrogating the reporter while his life was ticking away, and seems even happy to pull the gloves on in the morgue, which seems a trifle beyond her brief, but a way to while away the night hours – her phone is not exactly ringing off the hook.
I have a feeling we've seen this before somewhere. She seems to sit somewhere between Homeland's Carrie, The Killing's Sarah Lund, not to mention her compatriot Lisbeth Salander. But the part where she happily perused the pictures of the victim while her one-night-stander lay bemused next to her seemed almost proudly oblivious to social norms - even a tad contrived? - so I'm crossing fingers and hoping she doesn't descend into cliche.
Meanwhile, Martin Rohde, her Danish counterpart, appeared softer, seemingly more comfortable in his skin, less willing to work through the night, more likely to let a heart transplant patient through, that kind of thing. But he’s got his own issues with a war wound down south and a night-loving, family-despising son. And we have a long way to go in this series yet… thankfully. Saturday nights are taken care of, again.
The Bridge in pictures...