The Bridge series 4 episode 1 review: The lack of Saga Noren is problematic


The beginning of The Bridge series four - the show’s first episode in two years - presents us with an image more unsettling than anything we’ve seen in the Nordic noir before: a slipper-wearing Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) confined to a prison cell.

Two years on from the third series’ events, Noren is wrongfully behind bars for the murder of her mother who framed her before dying by suicide. She stares into space while eating porridge and attempting to get by despite her obsessive-compulsive disorder tendencies, brought on by her Asperger’s syndrome, causing violence against her fellow inmates.

To strip such a forceful character of her confidence for what will be the Scandi import’s final ever run of episodes is a bold move, but one that unfortunately hampers proceedings. Saga’s Danish counterpart Henrik - a charismatic Thure Lindhardt returning having replaced Kim Bodnia for series three - is out solving crime on his own. By the end of the episode, he’s not the only one missing Saga.

Past series have tackled family vendettas and environmental issues, however, it’s established early on that series four will be heavily concerned with the issue of immigration, creator Hans Rosenfeldt no doubt selecting it due to the prevalent crisis between Denmark and Sweden ahead of production. The series feels more gratuitous than it ever has with an almost unwatchable pre-credits scene showing a masked assailant stoning Denmark's Head of Immigration Board to death in a scene directly reminiscent of HBO series The Leftovers.

By episode's end, audiences are presented with a quandary: Saga - acquitted for her mother's murder and on her way out of prison - is stabbed in the nexk by a fellow inmate. If this renders the forceful character to a hospital bed for multiple episodes, The Bridge - one of the best-imported dramas of our time - is in danger of ending on a damp squib.

The Bridge airs every Friday on BBC Two