We review the last episodes of season three and find out the UK audience reactions…
*Contains spoilers for the series final episodes*
“‘The Bridge’ reached its crashing finale this weekend, with enough surprise, shock and anguish for every character to fill out another ten episodes” – Caroline Frost, The Huffington Post. I think many of us will agree that the final moments of The Bridge III has left us wanting more with a gaping crevasse in our BBC Four weekends.
What we didn’t anticipate was that anything could compare to the level of emotion and drama, exemplified by the relentless rain, in the climax of season two. Audiences have adjusted to Saga Norén’s new partner Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt) and the engrossing storyline which has sought to break Saga down from her usually stoic and apathetic stature. We weren’t expecting the intimacy of Saga and Henrik so soon, nor the poignant death of Hans Petterson (Dag Malmberg). With all of the characters and multi-strand sub-plots it has not been easy to definitively decipher the identity of the serial killer either.
However, the cerebral journey that Saga has been dragged along, raking up the superficially suppressed past along the way, has delivered a sentimental ending to satisfy fans of the award-winning Nordic Noir. Despite empathy not being Saga’s strong suit, audiences will be feeling enough emotion with this season finale.
The penultimate episode nine launches straight into the build-up for the killer’s end game. After boyfriend Marc (Michael Slebsager) is shot and Jeanette (Sarah-Sofie Boussnina) kidnapped, the young surrogate mother gives birth in captivity. The baby is born as a pawn in the nefarious game as Freddie Holst (Nicolas Bo) is tormented into finding his child and lured into the murderer’s clutches.
Meanwhile, Saga is put on leave – looking into Henrik’s family disappearance with nothing else to do. Rasmus Larsson (Henrik Lundström) is temporarily partnered with Henrik which is easily predicted that it does not bode well, despite claiming to be a “damn good copper”. The touching sympathy Henrik shows for Saga being suspended from doing what she does best is welcomed without Martin or Hans to understand her. He seems particularly concerned to find out that Saga visited the railway crossing at Arrievägen; the same place that her sister Jennifer committed suicide.
In stark contrast, the awkward humour never fails to naturally materialise with delight. When called back in to help locate the missing new-born, Saga attempts to show feelings for “committing a grave breach of duty” in light of John’s daughter Julia being injured in a shoot-out at the Malmö police station. She offers her apologies and presents him with a gift for Julia – a manual entitled: ‘Crisis support for accidents, catastrophes and harrowing experiences strengthening your resistance’. Which we can agree with amusement that, while the thought is appreciated “it might be a tad heavy”. Also, in a classic Saga conversation in the lift, Saga and Henrik discuss sex partners, prompting Saga to ask, “Are you wondering if you are the best?” as “It is common for men to want confirmation that they’re the best sex partner a woman’s had.” Henrik retorts, “It’s not something I had been thinking about. But if I had been thinking about it?” After a beat Saga confirms, “You’re not the best.” Classic quip from Saga’s repertoire.
Prime suspect Annika Melander (Louise Peterhoff) is found; bound and gagged, forcing the detectives to rethink their strategy. The idea that the killer is targeting their estranged, biological father for revenge is based on the grotesque art installation doll-house that depicts a perverted family model with the inventive murders. The meaning of the infamous code L369G42 is revealed during Henrik’s visit to check the register of donors at a fertility clinic. The donor labelled with this particular code turns out to be Freddie Holst and the mother Anna-Maria Larsson – unmasking the killer as Emil (Adam Pålsson).
In episode ten, the intermission from Saga’s internal affairs investigation comes back to the foreground. We notice more and more that Saga is falling apart and is failing to keep focus. History seems to be repeating itself; not only has Saga said goodbye – a literal blunt “Bye” to Hans at his moving funeral service – Saga discovers Henrik’s dependency on drugs after she finds him unconscious from an overdose. Her reaction is a judgement mixed with disappointment and disdain at the deceit, reiterating “Do you remember us talking about why I never let people get close to me?” To which Henrik recalls, “Because one way or another everyone has either left you or hurt you.”
This seemed to spell the end for their burgeoning relationship until a desperate Henrik finds Saga as she contemplates suicide in the same manner as her sister Jennifer. Saga’s second major breach of duty causes the death of Emil – a paperclip surreptitiously stolen during Saga’s visit to his cell. Things go from bad to worse when Linn (Maria Kulle) advises the accusations of her mother’s murder will be taken further. Saga pragmatically fears she will be found guilty due to the evidence against her, mirroring the fate of Martin at the end of season two. This leads us to what Ellie Violet Bramley from The Guardian describes as: “the final almost unbearably wrought, suspenseful 20 or so minutes where Henrik and Saga must both, in turn, ricochet back from their own individual brinks to save the other from theirs – what more noir-ish way to bond is there than through this shared grief and sense of hopelessness? As Henrik puts it: “I need you!” And, as she weeps, really weeps, in his arms, it’s brutally clear she needs him too. (What we need is a season four!)”
The somewhat uplifting ending teams Saga and Henrik together in a personal investigation to find his children when the body of his wife Alice is finally unearthed. The swelling sensation of overcoming her darkest hour, striving to cope with her losses and escape her detrimental fate – Saga is embarking on a brand new chapter beyond Malmö and The Bridge.
“Everything about this slick production was excellent… the characters we believable and, while there were numerous plots, subplots and tangents, it never strayed so far as to lose the viewer in its rabbit warren of criminals, victims and law enforcers and those who blur the lines between all three” – The Independent
“We’re awash with Scandi crime dramas these days but few can match this series, a masterclass in tone, plot and characterisation”- The Daily Telegraph
Fans have also shared their thoughts on Twitter:
#TheBridge – Stunning TV – BBC 4 wins again
Withdrawal after the end of series 3 The Bridge. Deserves international awards galore. The best yet.
Loved #TheBridge tonight BBC4. Henrik’s line ‘I need you Saga’ so powerful when she’s gone through life being hurt/let down. Will miss it!
Still recovering from the final two episodes of #TheBridge season 3 on BBC 4.What a rollercoaster. Will there be season 4?
We will have to wait until spring 2016 to be told if there will be a fourth season commissioned. Until then, you can take Saga home with The Bridge The Complete Season Three is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray here.