Taking a show that seemingly ends, more or less, into a season two pick-up is tricky ground under the best scenarios, but FX‘s The Bridge was the story of the hunt for a serial killer, and now we have to find something else to do with ourselves. The gimmick, apart from the serial killer investigation, was obviously trying to coordinate U.S. and Mexican law enforcement, while weaving through the corruption inherent in the world surrounding the border. This led to some great twists and turns, especially when it came to certain aspects of trying to exist as a non-corrupt person in a corrupt system, as well as trying to use a corrupt system for your not necessarily corrupt goals.
But, now that we aren’t after a serial killer, we’re left picking up the pieces, need a new focus, and awkwardly have to run through another establishment phase. While the characters are capable of keeping us interested, for the most part, this makes for a strange dance to work through, and the series doesn’t have a real handle on how to do it.
Unfortunately, since we better pick up some seriously nefarious deeds to work with, the show introduces Franka Potente as a kind of cartel uber-enforcer who crosses the border to find out how a whole lot of money was confiscated by the police. In order to turn up the heat on Marco Ruiz (Demian Bicher), it begins to look as though he isn’t safe anymore, even among his own police force. Sonya (Diane Kruger) has her own problems, especially as the other side of the border continues to refuse to stay on the other side of the border, but she also meets a man who is going to throw a wrench into her whole life.
The Bridge, which managed a great mix of tension and drama throughout the first season, stumbles around as the second season kicks off, and clearly because it isn’t sure exactly how to reboot itself around a new story. Demian Bicher remains the show’s strongest element, but that’s partially a result of having the best material to chew on. Diane Kruger, on the other hand, gets lost, and you can hardly blame her. From her response to the new character she has to deal with, and some truly amateurish scenes with her boss, Lt. Hank Wade (Ted Levine), which feel like we are meant to imagine it is either her first day on the job, or we are back in the principal’s office, she becomes almost an anti-character. She serves a certain function for the plot’s development, but she is suddenly hollow, and borders on meaningless. I imagine this pendulum swings back once we’re four or five episodes in, but it’s a jarring shift from the first season.
The most interesting spin as we enter the season is a result of Matthew Lillard‘s character, and that’s a sentence that ought never to be legitimately put forward. The continuing saga of the newsman and his end run around basically the same story is already more effective than most of the show.
Worse still, Potente is misused, and the character being thrown out is clumsily-written. There’s a certain potential, but it doesn’t come together, and assuming she is going to be around for a while, it’s going to be the sort of thing that increasingly drags the show down. Psychopaths may be the flavor of the day, but if you’re crazy enough you spin all the way back around to not being at all interesting anymore. Besides, we spend far too long looking at her, as though somehow the character will become more interesting, or will cause plot development to spontaneously appear, so long as we stare at her for five straight minutes.
All that said, fans of the first season of The Bridge are probably not making a mistake to stick through things for a few episodes. Despite the negatives of my reaction to the first couple of episodes, the hints that we are going to end up someplace which will make it all worthwhile are there. And, I didn’t especially love the first two episodes of the first season either.