TV Review: FX’s The Bridge Returns Stronger By Expanding Its Focus

When The Bridge premiered, there were many references to HBO’s excellent (and arguably best television show of all time) The Wire. The Bridge offered us a peek into the world of politics, violence, and corruption between El Paso, TX and Cuidad Juarez. But it was only a peek. The Bridge’s first season grew frustratingly distant from those elements as it focused on the original storyline of Bron/Broen, the European series from which it was adapted. With the hunt for an implausibly omniscient serial killer over, The Bridge finally takes a confident step toward that darker world and the show is stronger for it.

Within the first two episodes, The Bridge no longer feels so claustrophobic because the scope and world of the show has expanded. It’s refreshing to see The Bridge taking advantage of its rich setting, building a compelling story for its characters, old and new, to explore. This season begins to build its story from the cartel angle, beginning with the race for the truth surrounding that curious house with the dead senior citizen and a room full of millions of dollars. Daniel Frye (Matthew Lilliard) and Adriana Mendez (Emily Rios) are taking the advice of their mysterious package from last season and following the money.

Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) and Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) are dealing with the aftermath of the events of the season finale on their respective sides of the border. Marco has become a target in his own precinct, while the loss of his son, Gus, and the divorce from his pregnant wife pushes him in a more self destructive angle. He still has a thirst for revenge for David Tate, the man that took it all from him. Sonya still has tunnel vision for her job, but her sister’s murder is rearing its ugly head again a new way. She’s also more assertive in a feminist fashion, pushing back on Hank (Ted Levine), her boss and surrogate father.

By the second episode, the two are partners again, thrown together by the bloody aftermath that Eleanor Nacht (Franka Polente), Fausto’s “accountant from Hell” leaves in her wake. Polente is a fantastic addition to the cast, managing to be genuinely frightening while dressed like a good, stoic Southern Baptist. I was very excited to see her aded to the cast. We also meet two DEA agents wishing to tighten the net around Fausto’s cartel, but meeting resistance from the Mexican government. So, there’s many moving pieces this time around, but throughout it all, The Bridge exhibits a clear sense of direction. The show is letting things build and develop very organically which trickles into the characters and the actor’s portrayals of them.

Based on the two episodes I’ve screened, I’m very excited for the new direction showrunner Elwood Reid is taking The Bridge. I’m looking forward to learning more about this world as this season progresses. If you haven’t caught the first season, or maybe you dropped out last year, this is the perfect jumping on point, and that’s coming from a completionist like myself. It may not yet rival The Wire, but that’s a damn good standard to have.

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