I almost didn’t watch this series of The Bridge. I found the first season incredibly compelling all the time I was watching it (so long as I didn’t think too hard about the details) but was then disappointed by the ending. I always get frustrated when any sort of procedural (medical, legal, police) makes the investigators a part of the investigation. I feel it’s overused, wheeled out too often to boost the ratings and consequently breaking the realism the series offers.
I forgave The Bridge though, because I thought it was actually a one series show, so rather than jumping the shark it was just what the entire series was about. So I was a little surprised when the series returned for a second season and a little reluctant to watch for fear that it would follow the same pattern, thereby making its detectives the unluckiest in Scandinavia (ok, maybe slightly behind what’s-her-face from The Killing).
I clearly wasn’t that committed to not watching though as I still series linked it and allowed it to build up, until I caved to peer pressure from my brother and figured I’d give the first episode a try. That was it, I was hooked. I powered through the backlog in a couple of days and then eagerly pounced on the new episodes on Saturday evenings (god bless BBC 4 for doubling them up!)
What I liked was that the series neither forgot what had gone before, nor got completely overwhelmed by it. There was plenty of fall out from the previous incidents, but also a self contained mystery that steered clear of personal entanglements.
The crime(s) were just as intriguing to watch, twisting and turning along and I think they actually held together better than last year. The characters of Saga and Martin just a compelling to spend time with. For a ten part series there was a lot of stuff going on, and despite the subtitles restricting my ability to multi-task, I was never bored.
I do have to say that there were a number of elements I was less keen on. There were a few of the personal elements of the story that I found unlikely and irritating. Saga’s boyfriend was good comedy material, but utterly incoherent (had he actually spent any time with her before moving in? Why was her behaviour in the slightest bit surprising?). Martin’s psychiatrist, friends and family similarly had seemingly no clue what they were doing leaving him to bumble along on a doomed trajectory. I also continue to wish that the writers would make more of the Danish/Sweden elements, I rarely knew which country I was in and it made even less difference to the plot than last season.
Sadly I felt the season was utterly let down by the final episode. It felt like the writers had written a coherent and well thought out story and then realised they had miscounted the scripts and needed an extra one. The additional twist was bolted on the end with very little thought for smooth character or plot development. As for Martin and Saga’s actions, I still can’t quite decide whether they were perfectly in character or a complete departure from reality, or possibly both. Regardless of whether they were right or wrong, I still didn’t like it though and was left with a sense of dissatisfaction that conflicted with my overall enjoyment of the series.
I’m somewhat startled to find that there will be a season three of The Bridge. I was all set to say that I thought limiting themselves to two seasons was a brave and powerful choice, giving a well rounded and complete story without a happy ending and without drawing things out. The fact that there will be a third season makes me slightly nervous, but I suspect whatever my feelings, I’ll end up as hooked as I have this year.