Did You Watch “The Bridge”?
Here’s a secret – I gave up on The Killing. Not even Sarah Lund’s jumpers kept me watching. Perhaps when the time is right I’ll look her up again and see if this time we can finally connect – but right now there’s another Scandinavian detective on my mind.
Step forward Saga Norén.
Well, not just Saga. There’s Martin Rohde too, the other half of this Swedish/Danish double act that has become as dear to me as Holmes and Watson. Other “Scandi-dramas” have given us one big character like Sarah Lund, Birgitte Nyborg, or Kurt Wallander, but with The Bridge (Bron|Broen in the original) we find ourselves falling for the expertly drawn friendship between Saga and Martin. Saga is hyper-efficient, supremely dedicated and confidant, and brutally honest. Martin sits at the other end of the personality scale, laid-back and affable, easy to get along with, a friend to everyone and a father of several. You might expect a clash or conflict, but bar a few minor teething problem Saga and Martin are an immediate double-act, and they work together beautifully, bouncing off each other. Saga lends Martin her honest opinions, and Martin explains to Saga how small talk works.
They are lovingly constructed as multi-dimensioned characters; Martin, affectionate and funny, is a lazy father and random adulterer, and Saga is calculating and occasionally (unintentionally) cruel. There’s a whisper that she may be somewhere on the autistic spectrum, but the subject is never covered and doesn’t need to be – we can make our own conclusions. Their friendship develops with a glorious naturalism, built by interaction and dialogue that weaves between the case at hand and their lives outside it. It’s as refreshing as cold water that there’s not one hint of romance here, not even from Martin and his wandering eyes. Male/female friendship is a rare thing on television, and rarer still to see it without a stereotype following closely behind. Saga and Martin consistently deliver the best (and most heartrending) moments of The Bridge.
But Scandi crime must of course come with a plot. The concept of the series is fascinating: a body is discovered on the Øresund Bridge, which connects Copenhagen in Denmark with Malmö in Sweden. Police from both countries arrive, only to discover that the body has been cut in half at the waist and placed exactly on the border line between the two. Saga and Martin meet for the first time here, and are both handed the investigation by their respective countries.
It would spoil it to reveal too much more, but the actions of a so-called ‘Truth Terrorist’ draw Saga and Martin further into the intertwining investigation and into each other’s lives, propelling The Bridge forward with plot details popping up as regularly as clockwork. As with any good crime drama there are red herrings aplenty, but unlike The Killing the plot moves forward quickly, keeping us hooked with new morsels of information and the developing friendship between Saga and Martin. The supporting cast draw you in too, from unpleasant journalist Daniel Ferbé to dodgy social worker Stefan Lindberg, to Martin’s wife Mette, who gets just as much of a story as her husband. The Bridge looks good too, with its sparse colours, vast landscapes, and beautiful opening credits.
In a world where Scandinavian crime drama has become as prolific as BBC period pieces (Sofia Helin, who plays Saga, counted 13 separate crime dramas on Scandinavian television when considering taking the part), the arresting concept and plot of The Bridge really does offer new things to draw us in. But it’s not just good plot – The Bridge has a very human heart, with Saga and Martin at the centre of it. You will ache for these characters and their lives, and when the ten hours of expert plot and emotional rollercoaster are over, you’ll be counting down the days until we see Saga and Martin back on our screens again.
Watch a trailer for The Bridge below: