S2: Engaging even if it doesn't totally make the many side characters work as it wanted to
When a boat runs aground on the bridge between Sweden and Denmark, it is found that the only people on board are some young people who had gone missing some days prior. Their presence on the boat is a mystery however they quickly start to show symptoms of a deadly disease and at the same time a group of what appears to be masked activists claim responsibility with the promise of more to follow. With Saga assigned the case in Sweden, she turns to the Danish force for assistance – in particular her former partner Martin, who she has not seen for a year and who is now assigned to soft duties.
The first season of The Bridge may not have lived up to the hype around it but it was engaging and satisfying for what it was. Although the second season came to the UK with lots of praise and talk, I didn't get too much of it on board and indeed found a season that again is flawed in key ways but still does the job. The meat and potatoes of the story this time is that we have a series of terrorist attacks with big impact and plenty of drama and, after a bit of crowbarring, we get the old team together to look into it. The build of the mystery is mostly well paced and engaging, but as with the previous season, the structure means that we have lots of characters floating around where it is not really clear how they fit into things. Although for the majority of them their significance will become clear, it does give the show a bit of an awkward feeling as they hang around almost waiting to do their part.
In addition to this we also have some other situations which do add some value but never totally fit in; Martin's meetings with Jens always felt like they were just happening for the sake of it (which they are, narratively, to a point), while other side issues and characters are okay but not key to the story. These side issues are not really engrained into the story so do feel a bit awkward in the season. It doesn't help that the story doesn't really build to a meaty conclusion – it sort of does, but at the same time things get too big and it struggles to keep things tight overall, it is thrilling in the specifics but when it comes to the bigger picture it is looser than it can bare. It does do some brave things along the way, but again they don't really feel deeply connected in the show and instead feel like things they did as opposed to just part of the writing.
The cast remain good though, even if they do not always have a huge amount to work with. Bodnia's Martin has some obvious issues which he lets grind on him pretty well, but he never totally sells his character to the point that the various plot developments needed him to. Helin is better because she does have a stronger character and is more convincing in what she does, often being very funny in her deadpan delivery. The various supporting characters are solid enough in their parts and memorable enough to help keep track of who is who.
The second season of The Bridge does enough to satisfy those that enjoyed the first season. It has its flaws in the writing and it doesn't cling together as smartly or tidily as it wants to, but generally it has good characters, good forward movement and enough happening in the broad strokes that perhaps weaknesses in the detail don't matter so much. Third season is promised for late 2015, we'll see what it can do with the questions it left hanging.
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