If you’ve ever flicked over to BBC4 on a Saturday night, chances are you’ve caught a glimpse of something dark, moody and subtitled. Since first broadcasting The Killing, BBC4 has cornered the niche market of gloomy, cerebral Scandinavian thrillers to a cult following in the UK. First aired in 2012, Swedish-Danish co-production The Bridge is back for a second series and has lost none of the plot twists, awareness of social problems and brilliantly observed characters that made the first series such an addictive watch.
Named after the Oresund Bridge which links Denmark to Sweden, episode one opens with an errant ship crashing into the bridge with the bodies of kidnapped Swedish and Danish teenagers on board who have been injected with pneumonic plague. Not the most cheery of openings but it reunites Swedish detective Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) with her Danish counterpart Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia). The drama then unfolds to include environmental awareness, personal relationships and terrorism in ways you would never expect.
The heart of the show’s appeal lies in the relationship between mismatched detectives Saga and Martin. Whereas Martin is affable and open, Saga doesn’t follow the same social rules. Her character is fascinating to watch: she is rude, tactless and blunt, but also impossible to dislike. She also cuts a striking figure on the screen against the backdrop of a beautifully washed-out Copenhagen and Malmo. Saga is such a pervasive influence on the show that you miss her when she not in a scene.
It is well worth a catch up on iPlayer. It is a compelling and thoroughly absorbing watch, and you can even justify it educationally by learning the odd Danish word. A win-win situation all round.