I am hooked on the latest Scandinavian noir crime thriller from BBC Four. The Bridge features the most extreme pairing of “odd couple” detectives I’ve ever seen – Saga from Malmo in Sweden, and Martin from Copenhagen in Denmark. Connecting them is the Oresund Bridge, on which is found a composite female body – the top half of a Swedish politician and the bottom half of a Danish drug addict – neatly joining together the two national halves of the bridge.
Saga is single, fixated on her job, and can’t imagine any other condition. She probably lives somewhere on the autism spectrum, albeit high performance. When a potential witness is trapped inside a car booby trapped to explode, she calls him on the phone to answer questions. As you would. Bit of a pain in the arse is Saga, but she’s fascinating to watch. Her facial expressions remind me of Data from Star trek: The Next Generation when he’s confronted with a particularly odd human concept, the difference being that Data is at least prepared to consider the idea on its merits.
Martin, on the other hand is your average, slobby bloke – an overweight family man who just had a vasectomy and can’t afford to take time off work. He’s clever, though, and willing to cut corners where necessary, something that visibly shocks Saga. More importantly for their professional relationship, he doesn’t take offense, even when called upon to sit on his day-old vasectomy stitches, just because Saga is irritated by him standing up all the time.
There are also a couple of intriguing subplots. One involves Charlotte, who ruthlessly violates medical ethics to ensure a new heart for her husband, only for him to pop his clogs seconds after telling her the marriage is over. I’m not sure where it can go from there.
Then there’s Stefan the social worker, who at first I thought was the killer, since he looks like a 70s porn star and hangs out with prostitutes and drug addicts. The actual killer may be the dimly seen figure looking down on Malmo from a luxury high rise apartment. And I have high hopes of August, Martin’s asocial computer geek son, being involved in some way.
The Bridge is a slick, chilling, and intelligent drama, with a murderer who seems to be killing to highlight social and political problems, feeding a tabloid reporter links to statistics relating to the crimes. It’s also blackly funny in places, as when the bomb squad gives up on freeing the reporter from his booby trapped car and one of them shrugs, as if to say, “That’s life!” And Saga’s reactions to the weird things her colleagues do – like calling someone just to hear their voice – are very enjoyable. Can’t take my eyes off the lass.
Given that Denmark and Sweden have different cultures, I’m probably missing a whole subtext that Scandinavian viewers would pick up on quite naturally. But even without it, the intriguing plot, clean, spare production values, stunning photography, and the fascinating relationship between Saga and Martin, kept me watching.