Ja, ja, JA! Outstanding Actress award winner Mille Dinesen returns as Euro TV fans’ favorite grade school teacher in Denmark. Welcome to the third season of Rita.
The number of arcs related to Rita’s (Mille Dinesen, Borgen, Nynne) family members, students, and coworkers has been reduced, so storylines focus primarily on Rita being the say-it-like-it-is, sexpot of a single mum and teacher that she is, as she goes about doing the things she does — from championing students to pissing off parents. And none of the series’ trademark wit, charm, and drama is lost.
Season 3 opens a couple months after the events of last season’s finale. Rita becomes an empty-nester when younger son Jeppe (Nikolaj Groth, Fasandræberne), now 18 years old, moves in with his boyfriend David, and the resultant silence at her home is deafening.
The noisy activity at school isn’t necessarily a respite, either, what with “inclusion students” being excluded, the school budget being scant, and former school counselor turned headmistress Helle (Ellen Hillingsø, The Protectors) being a crony of Mayor Alice Verner (Charlotte Fich, Unit One). Rita and Helle have rarely seen eye to eye, but their relationship transforms from one of antagonists to cooperative educators. Progress!
Speaking of relationships, former headmaster and Rita’s ex-lover, Rasmus (Carsten Bjørnlund, The Legacy), now an education administrator in the mayor’s office, has a new one… and it’s a doozy. And there’s a kinda, sorta new someone for Rita, too. (“Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Say no more.”)
For young teacher Hjørdis (Lise Baastrup, Hjørdis), she and boyfriend Uffe (now a regular character played by newcomer Kristoffer Fabricius) are now fellow teachers at the school, which makes for some interesting dynamics in their relationship. (I have come to adore the character of Hjørdis. She really comes into her own, in her own inimitable way, in Season 3, and it is a pleasure to behold.)
Students-wise, the arc centered on an inclusion student consists of a few well-woven strands, including one that relates directly to Rita as his teacher and another involving a classmate. Episodes’ sub-plots range from evening classes and head lice, to a time capsule and national exams.
As with previous seasons, the third is tightly directed and acted, and its stories are as engaging as fans of Rita have come to expect. And major props go to the writers, who not only crafted smart dialogue, but also some of the best zingers I have ever heard in a Scandinavian series, notably the two that made me out and out guffaw.
If you haven’t watched Rita yet, I urge you to do so, and start from the beginning so you have the backstories on the central characters. It truly is a fabulous series, one that I hope will have several more seasons.
The third season of Rita is now streaming exclusively at Netflix in the US, UK, and others of the SVoD’s territories around the world.