FX is currently airing the second season of The Bridge.
Based on the Danish-Swedish series Broen/Bron, The Bridge begins with a body found on the border between Mexico and The United States. It is soon discovered that the body is actually two halves of two bodies positioned as one. Two police officers, American Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and Mexican Marco Ruiz, (Demián Bichir) investigate the case as bodies begin to pile up.
The premise of the show is very interesting to me because it explores the dynamic between the people on both sides of the Mexican-US border. As a person born in Latin-America (though not in Mexico), it is not often that I get to see people like me on American television, despite the fact that there are many people like me in the US population. We are not only under-represented in fictional media, but also in the news’ indifference to the violence in places like Juarez. When border violence does make it onto the news, it is often in terms of its effect on (mostly white) American ranchers. The drug war affects regular people on both sides of the border. Families have seen their children disappear or be murdered, and the crimes continue to go unpunished. The perpetrators south of the border collaborate with allies in the north, and The Bridge explores this, too.
I have to admit, I was disappointed by Season 1’s resolution. I won’t spoil the identity of the killer, but his personal connection to one of the leads made his “quest” on border crimes seem like an afterthought. The season had built up the theme of violence and xenophobia that marks border relations, then discarded these in favor of a personal vendetta. Still, the journey was fascinating enough that I don’t regret investing time into the show.
When the second season begins, Sonya and Marco are once again partnered, this time on the murder of a Mexican national in the US side of the border. The events in Season 1, particularly those surrounding the cartel, are now catalyzing greater aftershocks in Season 2. The complex thread encompasses American reporters, the DEA, politicians, money-laundering bankers, and born-again vigilantes seeking justice on their own terms. If I had one complaint about Season 2, it would be Sonya’s personal story arc, in which she chooses to trust a person who may or may not be dangerous. I find it tests believability, but beyond that, I think the subplot seems underwhelming against the larger narrative of violence on the border.
The Bridge doesn’t spoon-feed its audience. Crucial details are revealed with such subtlety that they might be easily missed by distracted viewers. This is what I love most about it: you need to focus. Its cast is ever expanding, and narrative threads tear away from the main plot, only to circle back again in unexpected ways. Like Inglourious Basterds, The Bridge makes the characters speak in the language that they WOULD use in a given situation. Marco speaks English north of the border, but back home, or among his friends and family, he speaks Spanish. Since the show takes place in both Mexico and the US, that means that half of it is in Spanish. I am a native speaker. I am also not adverse to reading subtitles, but it might be an issue for some.
I don’t know if the resolution to Season 2 will be more satisfying than the resolution to Season 1, but as I said, the journey, particularly the strength of the performances, makes it worthwhile.