TV Review: The Bridge

The epic Scandi-drama Bron/Broen bows out with a thrilling finale, meaning the end of this Saga, in every sense.

“Saga Norén, Länskrim Malmö (Malmo CID)” – It’s the call sign we’ve heard dozens of times. Over the course of the last four seasons, our Swedish heroine detective has seen it all, from the rise and fall of her partnership with loveable, but flawed Danish policeman Martin Rohde, to this culmination of an elongated story arc with current handsome, but beset-by-tragedy co-crimefighter, Henrik Sabroe. You get the idea.

That’s not to say that the two relationships have been the same. Since Martin’s imprisonment at by-the-book Saga’s expense, she has lost her best friend and mentor, and now with boss Hans departed in the last series, her father-figure too.

Slowly though she has been piecing herself back together mentally, not easy for someone so matter-of-fact and detached from reality (it’s often assumed, but never explicitly stated the she suffers from a form of Asperger’s). Having spent a year in jail accused of murder, framed by her own revengeful suicidal mother, it’s Saga who needs to find redemption, not just with those around her but also with herself. It’s a role Sofia Helin has excelled in throughout, not least in this parting episode.

But first, the central mystery at hand. As always with these Scandi dramas, it’s been full of several interweaving psychological twists and turns. We find ourselves with a serial killer on the loose, about to claim their seventh victim – having used each one of the methods of killing from state executions, bar firing squad.

With Lillian now having ousted the creepy Jonas, the collaborative Swedish / Danish police effort, think they have their woman – Susanne’s identification by the girls Ida and Julia, and subsequent capture and quick confession have wrapped up another case. But for Saga, and us viewers, not least because there’s forty-five minutes left on the clock, this is far from over. Thanks to some help from her ex-cell mate, Saga connects the link to wheelchair-bound Kevin/Brian – son of Tommy, who was killed due to a betrayal by Henrik and the Danish Force some years earlier.

It’s hardly this series’ greatest twist – most viewers had already reached that conclusion at least a few weeks before – but with this being Nordic Noir at its finest, and indeed The Bridge being famed for it’s shocking moments (not least the deaths of August Rohde, Pernille and the aforementioned Hans, in addition to Martin’s shock incarceration and departure from the series), there’s a genuine sense of trepidation in these final moments. We know it’s the final ever instalment, but will Saga make it out alive?

Police work, is, of course, thanks to Saga’s condition, her day-to-day automatic routine. But this is the dawn of a new era; encouraged to follow her heart over her head by her psychiatrist, it’s matters closer to home that are the real focus now in her life. Throughout the four seasons we’ve gradually pieced together her backstory along with Saga, detailing how her mother may, or indeed, may not, have been affected by Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Finally now, thanks to the help of one of the series’ unsung heroes, the unnamed Pathologist, Saga has her affirmative answer. It’s a genuinely emotive moment – as with so many in The Bridge – that then leads to her burning all her memories kept in her lock-up, acted by little more than the subtly of facial expressions, that convey so much about such a complex character. It seems Saga is finally finding some resolution.

But we haven’t quite finished yet, there’s still a case to solve. After the emotional rollercoaster, proceedings are, somewhat surprisingly, wrapped up fairly swiftly. Things come to a head at Henrik’s apartment with one final cut-away tense gunshot, with Saga (having earlier been very luckily gifted a front door key) shooting dead serial killer Kevin/Brian, after a tense will-he-won’t-he kill Henrik’s daughter Astrid in front of him.

If there’s one complaint of this concluding episode, it’s that this resolution does seem somewhat rushed, especially given the complex logistics of Tommy’s false disability and co-killing partnership with Susanne. In a world where online comment section conspiracies are often more elaborate than the actual on-screen outcome, it’s a motive that never really fully seems to land and could do with some more explanation. Years ago, a paraplegic suddenly standing to reveal his illness was faked may have been shocking, but now it’s foreseen well in advance and merely unravels narrative doubts.

Nevertheless, at this stage nobody is here for that – it’s all about our heroine. With Henrik and daughter safely reunited – making some redemption for her part in Martin’s loss of his own son – and her mother’s demons successfully, and literally, put to the fire, it’s time for Saga’s future to be revealed.

Of course, there’s only one place we could end up – as the theme song dictates – ‘right back at the beginning’, at the Øresund Bridge. It’s a final scene of genuine fear and beauty in equal measure. For all the chaos gone before we are now alone with a mentally composed Saga, possibly for the first time in her life, looking out over the edge into the grey horizon.

As she stands above the water below, for a second you fear the worst, but merely takes her police badge from her iconic jacket and tosses it over the edge. Firing up her infamous 1977 Porsche 911S, she takes yet another phone call. “Saga Norén”, she answers. No need for the ‘Malmo CID’ now.

It’s the epitome of this excellent series – beautiful writing combined a stunning performance, and a perfect ending. Alongside The Killing (Forbrydelsen), it’s been a league apart from any other compatriot in its genre. Both writer Hans Rosenfeldt and Sofia Helin, and indeed co-stars Kim Bodnia and Thure Lindhardt, manage to find nuances of detail and relationships that gave it a true heart to the story, which naturally make such a loyal connection to its audience.

In the end The Bridge came full circle in many ways. Although we might have been denied a cameo from Martin this series, it felt like the natural completion of a rounded story. With such touching moments as Astrid’s first words in Danish to father Henrik, set against Saga’s matter-of-fact attitude throughout, it’s a wonderful juxtaposition that’s been a rollercoaster of emotion to watch. For this new Saga Norén though, the future is only just beginning.