This review contains spoilers.
After the dramatic conclusion to last week’s episode, with Taariq on the run following his ‘release’ by Henrik – part of a strategy to find out what it is he’s hiding about the murder of Margrethe Thormod – it was inevitable that the next instalment would be pretty intense. The amount of shocks in this episode, however, is remarkable even for a show as reliably gruelling as The Bridge. The emotional crises endured by the main characters are beginning to peak now, as the cumulative effect of one blow after another takes its toll. Saga’s awkward relationship with Henrik is facing a crucial test as their respective family problems threaten to overwhelm them, both as individuals and in terms of their fragile bond as a couple. The case they’re investigating, meanwhile, is becoming even more unpleasant and complex than that first horrific murder suggested.
Taariq’s sad life on the run comes to a tragic, if not totally unexpected, end, as he takes a border police officer hostage at gunpoint and demands asylum in Sweden. Henrik and Saga go to negotiate with him, and Henrik appears to be making some progress when Taariq, fatally, asks Saga to guarantee that he’ll be granted leave to remain. Saga attempts to lie, but he sees right through her, and she eventually blurts out that he’ll be extradited to Denmark, jailed for five years for firearms offences, and then deported to Iran. Taariq finally understands that there is no safe harbour for him in either country, and takes his own life before they can intervene in a scene beautifully acted by all involved.
Henrik and Saga process their shared guilt and trauma in contrasting, revealing ways. Henrik furiously tells Lillian that the system has failed Taariq, and that the part the Danish police played in his death is disgraceful. Saga counters, as usual, by stating the truth: Taariq would likely have committed suicide in prison, and in any case, he never did learn the truth behind his ‘release’ by Henrik, so that can’t be a factor in his death. Henrik prioritises compassion, however futile, while Saga can discern the multiple hypocrisies behind superficial gestures that may ultimately do more harm than good.
This fundamental conflict between them continues into their private life as they argue about how to proceed with Saga’s pregnancy. Henrik’s devastated when they return home from work, only to find that his house has been turned over by the two teenage thieves he’s been sheltering. They’ve taken everything, even his daughters’ cherished necklaces. Saga can’t quite process his feelings on that subject – she’s evidently been expecting something like that to happen since the beginning – and chooses exactly the wrong moment to announce that she’s decided to have an abortion. Henrik’s blindsided, and angrily demands to know why she told him in the first place if her plan was always to terminate the pregnancy.
The unexpected threat to their relationship posed by the pregnancy has exposed interesting flaws in both characters. We already knew about Saga’s unflinching reliance on truth, no matter the cost, but the full extent of the damage that trait causes her is only now becoming apparent. Henrik’s continuing battle to cope with the loss of his children is moving into another stage now. As Saga puts it, he’s trying to replace his lost daughters: first with the young runaways, then with the prospect of a new baby. He doesn’t react well to hearing something he must know to be the truth, but the real surprise is Saga’s offer of a new arrangement. It’s hard to see this implausible setup lasting, but the mere fact that Saga would suggest it reveals much about her deep affection for Henrik.
Another distressing murder takes place, in one of the more grimly inventive scenarios seen so far in The Bridge: those of us suspicious of drones will have plenty more nightmare fuel after this. William Ramberg’s desperate quest to ‘save’ his daughter’s life ends in catastrophe, but it’s still unclear how this new killing is linked to the others. The revelation that a clown was involved (this is my favourite case ever, by the way) provides an intriguing connection to Patrik Dahlqvist, who did the same job at the same hospital. It dawns on Saga that all three crimes so far have involved methods of execution: stoning, electrocution, and lethal injection. Four other variants are still used in various parts of the world, which leaves them with four other projected murders to prevent. The race is on.
Despite the high drama of several scenes, it’s the smaller emotional moments that really hit home: Taariq’s resigned misery in his final moments, or Lillian’s quiet grief for Hans (Sarah Boberg’s given that character some wonderful depth in the past two series). The story of how Saga won – yes, won – the Porsche is a treat, as is Henrik’s reaction to learning that the ‘idiot’ who bet his prized car on his assumption that Saga would drop out of the police training course is now the police commissioner in Stockholm. The revelation that Saga’s most treasured possession is a symbol of her ability to prove other people wrong, to defeat their prejudices, is a special moment indeed. One question emerges as we reach the halfway point in this final series: can she finally escape the shadow of the mother who cut her out of family photos and tried to have her imprisoned for a crime she didn’t commit?
Read Gem’s review of the previous episode here.