The Bridge Season 2 Premiere Review: The Bridge to Nowhere
There were several moments during the first season of The Bridge where I felt like jumping right off it as the series frequently skidded into the disappointing realm of unfulfilled potential and not enough guys making meth while wearing only a cocksock. I really wanted to love the show; the setting of the U.S.-Mexico border alone meant that I'd be watching it all the way through, and the middle-of-the-season stretch of bizarre incidents provided plenty of local flavor. But poor pacing and a multi-episode arc in which David Tate went cuckoo bananners with torture games dumbed down what should have been political commentary and reshaped it into a Made in Mexico copy of The Following, and if there's one show you do not want to be compared to, it's The Following.
The final two episodes of Season 1 felt completely detached from the rest of the season, as The Bridge had nowhere else to go after Tate was caught in Episode 11 (of 13). The series slogged through some sort of wrap-up, barely setting up Season 2 while ditching the main storyline with strokes so broad they barely hit the canvas. These were some brutal growing pains that The Bridge experienced as it tried to find its voice. The show was all gangly threads and awkward changes happening in real time for the viewer to witness, mostly for the worse.
With only those last two episodes to get a feel for what the future would look like, I wasn't particularly enthused by the potential for Season 2. And to make things more interesting, The Bridge's co-showrunner and head writer Meredith Stiehm—who's considered a huge get for her work on some of Homeland's best episodes—departed the series in the offseason, leaving Elwood Reid as the lone person in charge. In short, The Bridge had a lot riding on its return.
The Season 2 debut, "Yankee," offered no indication that any of The Bridge's problems have been fixed, as it still can't seem to focus or create anything to cling to. Yes, it has stories to tell—a lot of them, actually. But none of those stories appear to be connected to the others. Sonya is now bunking and bumping with Jack Dobbs, the brother of the man who killed her sister, in what I'd call questionable behavior for a young lady. Save for one brief how-do-you-do, Marco is detached from Sonya, and trudging through a divorce and more police corruption in Chihuahua. Hank is doing non-cop stuff with Eva, instead of doing cop stuff with Marco and Sonya. Even Daniel and Adriana aren't doing a whole lot together; Daniel is following the money from Millie Quintana's house, and Adriana is helping her family search for her sister (who is probably dead, she says). Charlotte, Ray, Cesar, and Linder didn't even make an appearance in the premiere, meaning things are going to get even more crowded—and also sparse—when they eventually do return with their own stories. And let me repeat that last absence: No Linder? Are you kidding me?
There's nothing inherently wrong with a show that depicts a cross-section of a setting by following a bunch of different characters or stories that paint a larger picture of what's going on and how everything is related (The Wire, which The Bridge clearly counts among its inspirations, was great in this regard). Heck, The Bridge has a fantastic premise for experimenting with that approach. But are any of its stories interesting yet?
And weren't things better when Marco and Sonya worked together? Wasn't part of the fun, watching Marco deal with Sonya's Asperger's? Elsewhere, Daniel and Adriana became one of the best pairings of last summer, yet the writers have handed Adriana her own story instead of playing to the character's strengths—she's best used as Daniel's partner, part-time foil, and reluctant friend. All the main players are scattered, and that seeps into the overall feeling of the show. One hour into Season 2, The Bridge is still as aimless and meandering as it was at the end of Season 1.
As for new characters, Franka Potente arrived as one mean lady who's connected to the pallets of cash found at the Quintana house. We still don't know a whole lot about her except that if you spill a hot beverage on her stuff, you'll be one ear lighter very soon afterward. So yeah, she's tough, she likes to take nude showers to wash the gore off her heavily tattooed body, and she doesn't mind asking a few kids for help cleaning up. Aside from that, she's not really setting Season 2 on fire as the new bad guy. It's early and there's plenty of time for her to become a bigger force in the show, but for now, I don't feel like I know enough about her to believe she's a good anchor for the season.
The draw of The Bridge (har) was always meant to be Marco and Sonya, and both characters are in a tough spot, with Sonya standing up with her pants off, and Marco wondering if one of his own cops wants him dead. I'm still trying to figure out whether Sonya is a worthy lead character. Her Asperger's makes her infinitely unpredictable, as seen in her sexing up of the sibling of the guy who killed her sister; it's preposterous behavior, but it's also reluctantly acceptable because of Sonya's social disorder, a loophole that allows The Bridge to put her in incredibly dumb and dangerous situations whenever it wants to. Of course, Season 1 set a precedent for her reckless sexual antics, so who am I to wonder if what she's doing is in line with her character. I just hope the 'trait' is used well and supports Sonya's development instead of just giving her something to do. Meanwhile, Marco's strong point in Season 1 hinged on his duality of being a family man and a cop who was slightly bent, if not entirely crooked. But now his son is dead and his wife doesn't want to see him. Who is he now? Just a man who sits in a dark room drinking?
And speaking of dark rooms, how many scenes in this premiere took place in dim rooms while the blazing sunshine crept in through the rarely opened blinds? If part of The Bridge's Season 2 objective is to give the show a dark-room makeover, then mission accomplished! Get a lamp or something, folks!
My biggest complaint about the Season 1 finale was that it didn't leave us with much to discuss, and that's also the case with the Season 2 premiere. By sending its characters out on their own journeys, The Bridge has thinned everything out to the point that there's nothing to get excited for. We've seen a rash of cable dramas that have the look and feel of the great cable dramas that came before them, and The Bridge is quickly lumping itself into that unfortunate group. There's a good show somewhere in The Bridge, but right now the show's creative choices aren't allowing that good show to reach the surface. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it's just the first episode of the season, but the disappointing end to Season 1 leads me to believe that this is just how The Bridge is going to be. The good news? There are still 12 episodes left to prove me wrong, and believe me, I hope I'm wrong.
THE BORDER BETWEEN THE STORY AND THE NOTES
– I'm wondering what the show needs to do with Marco regarding what kind of cop he wants to be. Right now he lets the corruption in Chihuahua happen as long as it doesn't affect him. Does he need to take more of a stance on the matter? His job could probably use more conflict.
– Sonya continues to tell the horrible truth: "Well at least you can have sex with other women now that you are divorced."
– It was nice to see Brian Baumgartner (The Office) as a kick-ass Rush fan. It figures Daniel wouldn't understand the brilliance of Canada's finest.
– Again, NO LINDER? Or Ray? Boo.
What did you think of the premiere? What are you hoping to see in Season 2?
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