Nordic Noir seems perfectly suited to the darker months. There would be something truly perverse to watch drama so bleak on a cheery summer evening. Not so when the nights draw in, and the temperature plummets. Outside the wind blows, howls, moans across a landscape of moonlight and skeletal tress .
Capture that image if you can, keep it in mind for it is the perfect backdrop as we lock the doors, close the windows and draw the curtains. There has never been a better time
to sit before the fire, a single malt in hand and binge on some of the best crime television around. This is just what I did recently when I sat and watched the ten episodes that make up season one of The Bridge. Original language and subtitles, of course.
Saga Noren, played by Sofia Helin, is an excellent creation – she seems to be equal parts Sherlock Homes and Lisbeth Salander, with a dash of Mr Spock thrown in. Her Watson is Dutch police officer, Martin Rhodes (Kim Bodnia) who provides the heart of the story as well as being a useful counterpoint to Saga’s lack of emotion.
The story starts with a body left on the Øresund Bridge which connects Sweden to Denmark. The body has been placed along the border between the two countries which means that both the Swedish and Danish police authorities have an interest in the case. Things get complicated when it is discovered that this is actually two bodies – the top half belonging to a Swedish politician while the legs are from a Danish prostitute. It soon become clear that the killer, a man who calls himself the Truth Terrorist, is making a point. That point being – we are not all equal in the eyes of the law. The prostitute was killed many months back, her body kept in deep freeze until it was needed to join the upper half of the politician on the bridge. Her disappearance was briefly investigated and then forgotten.
The killer soon contacts the press and claims he is committing these crimes to highlight some very real social problems. He has other points to make – which will lead to ever more audacious crimes – poisoning the homeless, abducting corrupt policemen and kidnapping a group of schoolchildren. However as the mismatched cops investigate it soon become clear that the killer may be one of their own and that his motives are actually much more personal and nothing to do with noble ideas of social justice.
It’s an intriguing plot that is paced well throughout the entire season and I found myself immediately hooked after the first episode – For a week I found myself watching a couple of episodes a night and I enjoyed every minute. The chemistry between the two loads is pitch perfect and provides for some great character moments. Martin is the warmer character, a man who has no problems with social interactions , whilst Saga is socially awkward and finds it difficult to form real friendships or relationships. She seems to favour casual, unemotional sex and although her lifestyle is odd it is at least well ordered. The same can’t be said for Martin who struggles to remain a good father and husband and soon finds everything falling down around him.
Compelling stuff then…I’ve still got two more seasons to watch and I’m eager to get into the second season. After that I think I’ll try the American re-make, also called the Bridge, and if that’s not enough I could always enter The Tunnel – which is of course the title of the French/British remake. Somehow though I doubt if any of the others will match the brilliance of Saga Noren as played here by Sofia Helin.