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Monday, August 8, 2016

Swedish/Danish 'The Bridge' S2 DVD: Second Time's the Charm

[Editor's Note: This awesome DVD set from Australia will not play in a standard U.S. DVD player; you need a "must-own" international player that is an all-time top purchase in the home of your not-so-humble reviewer.]

These reviews of Madman Entertainment DVD sets of seasons of "Nordic Noir" series, most notably the also-reviewing three-season set of the Danish version of "The Killing," continues with thoughts on the awesome S2 of the Swedish/Danish version of "The Bridge" following a review of S1 of this program. S2 of "The Bridge" is notable for being an even stronger season that the inaugural outing of the program. Lead Malmo, Sweden police detective Saga Noren is even more entertainingly abrasive and clueless, the pacing is slightly brisker than in the the well-presented first season, and the writers add complexity while keeping the action easy to follow.

The opening scenes of "Bridge" S2 have an abandoned cargo ship veering off course and headed toward the titular Oresund Bridge that separates Denmark and Sweden and that plays a more significant role in S1. The ship reaching a resting point allows Noren to board, where she discovers four 20-something captives. Members of that group being Danish residents who have open missing persons files prompts Noren to recruit partner-in-crime solving Copenhagen police detective Martin Rohde. For his part, Martin is still suffering the effects of the events of 13 months earlier that comprise the S1 plot.

Very similar to S1, the criminal activity that sets S2 in motion is a relatively small part of a large criminal undertaking with an allegedly altruistic motive. In this case, the gang of four who initially come to the attention of Team Saga claim calling attention to a health crisis that developed nations ignored as the raison d'etre.

Subsequent crimes include poisoning apples in a manner that a kiss from Prince Charming does not remedy, killing supporters who become liabilities, acting to create widespread crises, etc,

One aspect of the genius of S2 is that it mixes in large quantities of frustration in the home and work environments of the easily exasperated Saga. She loves her new live-in boyfriend to the extent to which she is capable and enjoys the easy access to a sexual partner but is physically and emotionally uncomfortable sharing her living space with another person. As an aside, this aspect is behind your not-so-humble reviewer jokingly telling his almost domesticated partner to never enter the home office of the former in their more-than-ample house.

Work tensions escalate beyond Saga not understanding the value of good manners and praise when in a management role. Youngish police detective Rasmus actively clashes with Saga regarding always being given grunt work, never being allowed an active role in the investigation, and having her respond with a blank stare when active interaction is appropriate. For his part, Martin must play peacemaker much more than he does in S1.

Other genius exists in tying seemingly unrelated plot lines into the main story. A late teens student sailing her boat near the runaway ship leads to integral developments that also tie into events that are a large part of the life of the student but not the crimes. The same goes for the lives of a bullied 13 year-old orphan, a middle-aged male prostitute, and  even Saga taking a break from her own uber-patient life partner,

The only flaw in S2 are odd developments in the ninth of ten episodes. The team is moving in on the person at the center of the murders and other crimes that they are investigating only to have that effort and another major one in that episode wrap up cleanly. Saga superior Hans even declares the case closed, orders beer and sandwiches, and sends everyone home.

Saga discovering important new information at the end of the penultimate episode of S2 leads to bring the band back together for one more adventure. This final outing additionally has Martin engage in behavior that equally relates to both seasons. Although good and somewhat suspenseful, this final episode seems extraneous. 

As other "Noir" reviews mention, the episodes in these series provide an awesome alternative to the worse than usual summer season broadcast, cable, and streaming options out there. The aforementioned semi-domesticated partner and your not-so-humble reviewer eagerly watch these shows (and have great fun calling out "Lund?" or behaving more insensitively than Saga) during this season of days that are either 90-degree or have rain pouring down in buckets.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Bridge," "Killing," or other Noir series is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.