It’s the end of the road for the first season of The Bridge. After a bit of a mixed bag run, does the FX drama end on a high note?
Let’s bitch it out…
In hindsight, we probably should have known better than to expect The Bridge to adhere to established conventions. Overlooking the David Tate arc (let us never speak of it again!) the majority of the episodes of The Bridge refuse conventional narrative structures, particularly elements of closure.
It should be no surprise then, that ‘The Crazy Place’ neither feels like the last episode of the season, nor does it end on anything resembling a cliffhanger or even a resolution. Instead it ends with a bit of a “huh…okay”. I don’t think that this is going to sustain the watercooler chat until next summer when the show returns for its second season, but as far as resisting the urge to end with a huge WTF moment, there’s a certain admirable restraint.
There’s a slow, building sense of momentum to Marco’s (Demián Bichir) decision to seek out Fausto Galvan (Ramón Franco), the man whom he has resisted working with for the duration of the series. And while I can truthfully admit that if I would be happy never to see David Tate again, Marco’s desire to murder the man who has brought him so much grief makes sense. Despite playing a vital role in the rescue of Eva (Stephanie Sigman), Marco’s confession to Sonya (Diane Kruger) that he has lost everything suggests that he no longer finds value in being “the good cop”. He’s resisted being a typical Juarez cop all season long and while he’s not prepared to aid human traffickers or allow Galvan to commit murder for him, he’s no longer the same principled man we met in the pilot.
Marco’s downward spiral over the course of this first season has been pretty marvelously managed. I remember thinking about how enigmatic and captivating Bichir was in the first episode, and my disappointment at discovering his philandering ways. The way that his less-savoury characteristics contribute to the motivations behind the terrible things that happen to him and his family – separated wife, murdered son – have left him, thirteen episodes later, little more than a drunken, bitter man. It’s an amazing arc for Bichir to play, and while Marco is far from the sympathetic Juarez cop I once thought he was, the character has turned out to be all the richer for it. For me, Bichir has been the amazing discovery on this show.
I wish that I could say the same thing for Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) and Sonya. Kruger has had several stand-out moments (I’m partial to her silent caress at the end of 1×07 ‘Destino’), but looking back at S1, this has clearly been Bichir’s season. Kruger’s Sonya ended up playing more of a supportive role than I would have expected. Gish’s Charlotte is even less significant, having spent the majority of the season in isolation (she barely interacted with the A-plot following the first few episodes). I had hoped that between the tunnel and the show’s preoccupation with the missing women of Juarez (still it’s richest storyline), Charlotte would have played a more central role.
Alas the former Tampa hostess never really came into her own. Whether that’s on the cusp of changing is debatable: in ‘The Crazy Place’ she finally stands up to Ray (Brian Van Holt), makes her own business decisions with Monte (Lyle Lovett) and generally begins taking ownership of her life. Or at least it starts off that way…until she’s confronted by a mysterious man, Arliss Fromme (Timothy Bottoms), who is either a government agent or a very well-informed third party who wants in on the action. This development is really disappointing to me because I was looking forward to seeing Charlotte wrestle with the logistics and realities of her new role, something that doesn’t appear likely anymore. Instead the writers are clearly more interested in bringing in another white man to take ownership over her. While I think it would be more interesting to see how Charlotte adopts to being on top for a change, the subjugation of women is very much on-point with the stories that The Bridge wants to tell, so perhaps this makes sense…
- If I had to name the most unusual character of 2013, it would undoubtedly be Thomas M. Wright’s Linder. Unfortunately much like Charlotte, The Bridge failed to use Linder as well (or as often) as it should have. In this final episode he’s relegated primarily to visiting Eva after she’s been rescued and transported (unseen) back to Hank’s (Ted Levine) house in El Paso. It’s a disappointing end for such an interesting character
- Much more promising is the dangling thread opened up by Frye (Matthew Lillard) and Adriana’s (Emily Rios) mysterious discovery of $40 million (half in Euros!) in a dead grandma’s apartment. Although I have no idea where this storyline came from or where it’s going, it will undoubtedly comprise a significant part of S2
- In the “far too obvious” arena, Adriana’s factory worker sister, Daniela, is the latest Juarez woman to go missing. I appreciate that the show is making an effort to use a human face to personalize a criminal enterprise that claims thousands of women each year, but the suggestion that this much tragedy could befall such a small cast of characters is beginning to strain credibility. What’s next: El Paso PD’s Kitty has a niece who gets sold into sex slavery?
- Finally, some food for thought (courtesy of Variety): The Bridge is the most DVR’d show in FX history and the third most popular new cable series when you factor in Live+7. I guess this explains why so many of you end up checking out these reviews later in the week!
- Monte (discussing his 10% commission brokering the tunnel deal): “It’s an industry standard.”
- Ray (discussing his sexual indiscretion with Graciela): “She raped me. It was a cartel thing”
- Adriana (presenting Frye with cupcakes for his first day at work): “Come on, it’ll be fun watching people pretend to have missed you”
Your turn: what did you like/dislike about the first season of The Bridge? Will you be tuning back in next summer? Do you agree that Bichir was the real protagonist/find in this first season? Do you wish more had been done with Charlotte and Linder? And does it reassure you to know that Shine America, the production company behind The Bridge, will be overseeing the American remake of Broadchurch (with David Tennant reprising his role as Hardy)? Comment away below
The Bridge has now completed its freshman season on FX. It should return for S2 in summer 2014
Thanks for reading, Bridge-rs!