It’s time for the second episode of FX’s smash hit, The Bridge, which offers us a better idea of what we can expect for the remainder of the season. So what exactly will this show deliver?
Let’s bitch it out…In week two, the first thing that comes to mind is that this show is a) no The Killing (thank goodness!) and b) it’s no Homeland, either (not a bad thing, to clarify). These were the two shows name-dropped in most of the initial reviews for the series, but ‘Calaca’ makes it clear that The Bridge isn’t playing by the same rules as its cable brethren.
For some of you, this episode may have been accompanied by a sigh of relief. Diane Kruger seemingly got the memo about toning down her divisive portrayal of Sonya Cross. Although the character continues to exhibit unusual social behaviour, Sonya is now less abrasive and simply more awkward. Bonus points: super uncomfortable pre and post-sex conversation with random bar guy (Third Watch‘s Jason Wiles). Everyone wins!
What I liked about this second episode was the broadening of the world. It would have been easy to focus exclusively on Cross and Marco (Demián Bichir) continuing their investigation. Instead there’s juicy subplots with subtle character reveals about Annabeth Gish’s Charlotte, Matthew Lillard’s David and the introduction of a few new intriguing characters that further shake up the status quo. I can’t say that the reveal to last week’s cliffhanger regarding Charlotte’s dead husband is overly surprising (human trafficking was probably my second guess – after Hostel kill room), but the introduction of a shady Esquire played by Lyle Lovett (!) certainly adds additional intrigue.
Side Note: Initially it seems as though the band of dehydrated Mexican immigrants running around in their subplot will connect to Charlotte’s tunnel, but it turns out that this is actually tied into the A-plot. Colour me surprised.
The show still clearly belongs to Kruger and Bichir, whose relationship is beginning to settle in as the case deepens. The thematic symmetry of both cops working the case in their respective “off” hours – both go cruising and then bringing the case files to bed – visually reinforces their compatibility with each other. I also liked how Marco’s wife’s phone call simultaneously reinforces how little Sonya knows about romantic relationships (anticipating her stilted pick-up in the bar) while also shining a light on the intricacies of Marco’s long-standing, comfortable marriage (his wife barely waits for him to open a beer before asking him to speak to their son, and she teasingly inquires about how pretty Sonya is, but gets upset when she doesn’t get an answer she likes). It’s these little moments that The Bridge continues to execute really well amidst the traditional detective plot, which continues to churn out exposition and new evidence.
- Lillard’s portrayal of Frye isn’t really working for me. Perhaps it’s my inability to separate him from his other characters, but every time I see him I see the actor, not the character. I’m much more intrigued by his junior colleague, Mendez (Emily Rios) who is simultaneously meek, resourceful and playful. I want to know more about her
- The most unexpected moment in ‘Calaca’ occurs when the pimp/brother (?) of Eva, the girl who stupidly climbed into Steven Linder’s (Thomas M. Wright) car last week, comes looking for her. It’s clear early on that he’s someone who shouldn’t be messed with, but I never actually expected him to kill Linder’s neighbour
- Speaking of Linder, he remains a complete enigma: he keeps Eva’s phone and seems to be scouting for new victims, but now he’s interested in a picture of a blonde woman from the detention centre he works at. There’s no discernible pattern among the two women, but despite his inherent creepiness I don’t think Linder is our guy. He doesn’t seem capable of plotting the attacks we’ve seen thus far
- Clues for this episode (if that’s your thing) include: Beads are left at each crime scene (2 and counting); the killer has planned his crimes a minimum of three years in advance (according to the voice actor who recorded last week’s bomb message) and the killer knows where immigrants travel to avoid the fence lining the border
- I’m unsure what to make of the connection between Christina Fuentes and the cartel murders. Should we make more of the fact that she was one of 23 bodies left in that house? Or do you think this is simply meant to illustrate how much the cartel gets away with in Juarez and how out of her depth Sonya is on the other side of the border?
- Note to El Paso deputies: killing a coyote and leaving the carcass hanging above the crime scene during your unauthorized stake-out is a sure-fire way to be left off the investigative task force
- Finally, according to the always trustworthy Wikipedia: a calaca is “a figure of a skull or skeleton (usually human) commonly used for decoration during the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, although they are made all year round” The more you know!
- Sonya (to Ted Levine’s Hank, discussing working with Marco): “His wife called just to hear his voice. It seemed like such a waste of time.”
What did you think of the expanding world of the show? Are you more accepting of Kruger’s performance this week? Which clues stand out as significant to you? Were you as surprised as me about the neighbour’s sudden death? Hit the comments below with your thoughts
The Bridge airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX