This review contains spoilers.
After the drama of the previous episode’s closing scenes, it comes as something of a relief to learn that neither of those apparent catastrophes has come to pass. Saga’s crippling breakdown hasn’t led to further hospitalisation; instead, she’s diagnosed herself with post-traumatic stress disorder and arranged sessions with a psychiatrist (Jenny Lampa). Saga’s potted history of everything she’s been through will be handy for the viewers whose introduction to The Bridge only started with this series (not an approach I recommend, frankly, but I do admire your courage). Lampa’s facial expressions in this scene are award-worthy, and I look forward to seeing more of these fabulously awkward encounters as the series continues.
Richard Dahlqvist’s disappearance from his hotel room also turns out to be less sinister than Saga and Henrik had feared, while the circumstances behind his erratic behaviour close down one line of inquiry for good. Lillian’s furious when the surviving twin appears on television stating that Red October representatives met him to make clear that their group had nothing to do with the murders of either his brother Patrik or Margrethe Thormod. The cracks in his story soon deepen under questioning, and he eventually breaks down. Red October is a fiction he’s concocted to bolster his flagging career as an expert in radical political groups. He came up with the convoluted story to force the police to stop pursuing leads he knew to be false.
It becomes clear that Patrik Dahlqvist wasn’t a victim of mistaken identity after all. When Saga calls Niels Thormod (Thomas W. Gabrielsson) to ask him about a possible connection between his murdered wife and Patrik, he denies any knowledge. When he hangs up, however, we see him rifling through a stash of photos containing covert snaps of the dead man. Given that he was handed pictures of the scene of his wife’s death in the last episode by an unnamed figure, his role in all this is currently looking very murky indeed. The fact that his employee Susanne (Sandra Sencindiver) had her wallet stolen by the two crafty teenagers who passed the mobile on to the luckless Taariq doesn’t help his case, either.
While we’re on the subject of last week’s episode, that weirdly hilarious scene in the hospital is also starting to take on a new, grimmer significance as we learn more about Leonora (Alva Ingvarsson) and her deeply unpleasant father, William (Leonard Terfelt), whose air of detached, practised cruelty puts minor-league scumbags like Dan (Lars Ranthe) firmly in their place. The latter is going to regret his involvement in whatever criminal activity William makes his money from, just as his estranged wife and son are starting to wonder if they’ve made a mistake in seeking refuge in the disturbingly sedate village run with an iron hand by Harriet (Lena Strömdahl), as suspicions – and justified ones, as it turns out – begin to rise. The sense of something disquieting in this orderly community is building nicely, and the motivations of the apparently good-hearted Frank are satisfyingly hard to pin down at the moment.
Julia (Fanny Leander Bornedal) and Ida (Iris Mealor Olsen) are in big trouble. After fleeing to the Swedish side of the border, the sisters’ plans to stay away from the police are thwarted when Ida’s knocked down by a cyclist and the hospital staff alert the authorities. The girls initially refuse to co-operate with Saga and Henrik, but Henrik’s kindness wins them round. He’s appalled when they’re taken to the cells, and manages to persuade Lillian to let them stay with him for the night before other arrangements can be made. Saga isn’t pleased, and is even more annoyed when they escape from the children’s home the following day and return to his house.
Henrik’s still struggling with nightmarish visions of his two lost daughters, and the presence of these flesh-and-blood girls in his home – two sisters, around the same age as his missing children – is jarring in the extreme. He dismisses Saga’s suggestion of a DNA test, insisting that he would have recognised his own children. Another quiet bombshell drops at this point. Saga’s pregnant, although, as she puts it with her usual bluntness, she’s thinking of ‘having it removed’. Henrik’s blindsided by this, while she’s surprised to learn that he might be interested in becoming a father again; they agree to discuss it further before Saga makes a decision.
The abrupt revelation of something most shows would use as an episode’s cliffhanger is exactly what sets The Bridge apart from other, similar series, as is the fact that we still have no real idea where this most unconventional of relationships is going to go. There are some lovely moments of humour in this episode – the ongoing desk war between Saga and the ever-obstructive Jonas continues to delight, as does the thawing relationship between John and his equally indispensable opposite number, Barbara (Julie Carlsen) – but the pervading sense of melancholy that lingers around Henrik and his tragic situation is the key theme here. Oh yeah, and the clowns. Congratulations, coulrophobes; you were right, all along.
Read Gem’s review of the previous episode here.