What makes this show so enjoyable is the personal relationships between the main characters
The Øresundsbron Bridge (which is actually a hybrid bastadisation of the Danish Øresundsbroen and the Swedish Öresundsbron) is an eight kilometre expanse that joins the Danish capital city of Copenhagen to the major Swedish city of Malmö. It is also the setting for the police drama series The Bridge (English translation) itself a joint venture between Danish and Swedish TV production companies and is fast becoming the show to watch, so much so that it has already been remade here in the UK (as The Tunnel) and across the pond in America, but don’t be fooled, the original is where it’s at. The first season dealt with a serial killer who placed two halves of a severed body exactly on the border between Denmark and Sweden in the centre of the Bridge, and hence bringing together a collaboration of both police forces. Now we are looking at the second season which takes place some thirteen months after the climactic Bridge top standoff of the first and reunites the main cast in what amounts to a much larger picture.
The series opens up to a tanker on a collision course with the centre of the bridge and despite desperate calls from the coast guard to intervene the ship runs aground. The scene is investigated by the first of our main protagonists, Saga Norén, a police detective from Malmö, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome; this makes her very precise about her actions, but also difficult to get along with – she has a great deal of trouble dealing with relationships and social interaction of any kind is problematic as she struggles to get along. Here, in the second season, she has embarked upon a live-in relationship (rather than pick up strangers in bars just for sex, as per the first season) as she tries desperately to fit into society. She is played quite extraordinarily by actress Sofia Helin, and she nails the mannerisms of the syndrome to a tee. She is not mean spirited, but she is dedicated, and simple things such as sarcasm, or irony, are just lost on her, making dealing with the public during the investigation, at times, problematic. She follows the rules and makes decisions based on logic, and always for the right reasons; this can put her at odds with others in her unit, but normally her instincts bear fruit – indeed it was her intervention at the climax of season one that whilst dramatic and exaggerated, actually saved the life and career of her partner, the Danish officer Martin Rohde, whom we will meet very shortly.
In the hold of the stricken vessel five youths are found, and because the ship is once again on the border, Saga wishes to enlist the help of Martin to solve the case – their previous collaboration being of mutual benefit, even if the final outcome was very tragic for Martin. In fact, Martin is still suffering from the fall out. Separated from his wife and having been in therapy for over a year to deal with the issues, Martin is still suffering from a form of Post Traumatic Syndrome – he lives for today, and now takes unnecessary risks with his personal safety. Martin is played with amazing heart by Kim Bodnia, each little nuance and thought is etched into his face, it is, along with Helin’s, stunning to watch. It is only when Saga comes back into Martin’s life that things start to improve for him, even to the point of facing his nemesis in gaol. Saga, by her very nature, treats Martin like she used to; her actions and the fallout from them are in the past and she no longer regards them as relevant, therefore her relationship with Martin, as far as she is concerned, picks up right where it left off – and this, more than anything is what gives Martin hope for himself, she does not pander to him, or treat him with kid gloves, and this, along with the new case, gives him something to live for and something to hang on to, to move forward with his life.
Quite apart from this main story thrust there are plenty of layers to the complex narrative.
Indeed it is this complex working relationship, with its quirks and eccentricities that makes this series so enjoyable to watch. Yes, the drama of the story as it unfolds ‘24 style’ keeps the pace and the tension high, but it is the people behind the drama that make it work. Watching as the crisis develops and how our protagonists deal with it, as well as their own personal demons makes for extremely compelling viewing. For when it is discovered that the five youths are infected with a deadly pathogen and a spate of other terrorist attacks of an ecological nature rock the cities; a video released on the internet points to eco-terrorist who wish to spread their own twisted justice on the world, things really start to go bad. However, when the police net starts to close in it becomes apparent that they are simply smaller fish in a much bigger ocean of conspiracy and it takes our dedicated team to the very brink as they discover who and what is going on. Quite apart from this main story thrust there are plenty of layers to the complex narrative, characters are introduced and you spend time with them only to discover, much later that they are important in some fashion to the plot; everything and everyone becomes part of the whole and this is what makes for such a fascinating watch.
Eco-terrorism, dramatic interpersonal relationship and a furious pace that keeps the tension impossibly high; what’s not to enjoy? Recommended.
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