Many times there are just things you do not expect to see. Lyle Lovett serving as the first character we see in this second season of FX’s The Bridge, moments before we follow him into a house soaked in blood, definitely qualifies. So now we are off and it is an interesting start, even if it relies more on setting things up, rather than developing a significant direction for this show’s sophomore season. With that said, what I enjoyed most about the first season of The Bridge was the world it set up. This first episode, “Yankee” does a fine job of bringing us back into that world, so now it just comes down to seeing where the writers plan to take us.
Moving away from Lyle Lovett and back towards the people we want to root for, Sonya (Diane Kruger) and Marco (Demian Bichir) are both in a state of limbo, following the events from last season. Sonya, lately, has a lot concern for the man responsible for raping and murdering her sister, as he appears to be dying. Marco has buried enough of the emotions concerning the death of his son to go back to work, but is clearly being threatened, after a fellow officer takes a shot at him, during a raid. There is only a brief meeting between these two in “Yankee”, but they are clearly not ready to be forced back together yet. Instead, it is simply made clear that Marco is aware that saving Eva (Stephanie Sigman) and bringing her into the US will have repercussions that he may have to deal with himself. With that in mind, we only check in briefly with Hank (Ted Levine, effectively in full Obi-Wan mentor mode), but it is enough for him to quickly grill Bob (Jon Gries), before he sends Eva off to be protected from possible harm, temporarily.
Several key characters all seem to be revolving around a key plot in this season, which is dealing with the house that was full of millions in cartel money. This leads us to our re-introduction to Matthew Lillard’s Daniel Frye character and Emily Rios’ Adriana. Both Lillard and Rios have been bumped up to series regular this year, which is great, because I really enjoy the work from both of them on this show, let alone the chemistry they have together. He’s a dick and she’s a lesbian. That is the broad way to put it, but their dynamic works and now we get to see them exploring a case as reporters, which will ideally lead them to finding Adriana’s missing sister. At the same time, the confiscated cartel money leads to the arrival of the most enigmatic character, Franka Potente’s Eleanor.
From what we can tell, Eleanor is a fixer of sorts, working for the cartel. The way she delivers her dialogue reminds me a lot of Sonya, which I can only hope leads to an eventual crossing of paths between the two. Plenty of fierce women exist on The Bridge, so putting them together could lead to some interesting conversations or actions taking place. Regardless, Eleanor gets across her attitude and drive for efficiency quickly, after a tense meeting with a bank manager responsible for the cartel money being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which ends with a poor employee of his losing an ear for spilling some tea.
I would hate to invoke No Country for Old Men’s Anton Chigurh character, every time a seemingly sinister villain comes along, simply because of their mysterious nature combined with deadliness, but Eleanor did give me Chigurh vibes, much like how this version of The Bridge feels like a serialized version of something author Cormac McCarthy could have come up with. The other obvious comparison for a series like this is David Fincher’s Se7en, given the nastiness of the violence we see (generally the aftermath), but while that film featured rain soaked grittiness, here we are in a saturated, baking hot El Paso/Juarez environment. Again, it is the world that I love the most about The Bridge and while “Yankee” does not begin this season with indication of a straight-forward overarching plot, like the work of a serial killer with an agenda did in the first season, I am interested in seeing where the season will end up going, given that the showrunners seem aware of how interesting this world is, as opposed to going with a traditional “gotta catch that killer” plotline.
With that said, there are three distinct stories set up for our two main leads and Eleanor, let alone the subplots involving Daniel and Adriana, which do connect, just as Sonya soon finds herself inadvertently on the trail of Eleanor by the end of this episode. We have also yet to catch up with Linder (Thomas M. Wright, hopefully not in his tighty-whiteys as much this season) or Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) and Ray (Brian Van Holt), who of course have their own agendas going on with ‘border politics’. All this is to say that I am more intrigued by there being a lack of traditional formula, if it means getting to explore the various El Paso/Juarez connections from various points of view, without it becoming overcrowded.
That did tend to be an issue last season, as we had to bounce around characters seemingly disconnected from each other, while also following along with Sonya and Marco versus the serial killer. It made for a show that had a grim vibe laced with pulpy elements, but also one that needed time to find its groove. I am not sure how effectively The Bridge can pull in new viewers this year, given these changes to the series, were audiences not to catch up on the first season, but as someone who enjoyed the initial year of this show and was happy to see the highlights coming from the strength of the world and characters, I was not too distracted by how much place setting was going on, mainly because I felt like I was comfortable being back in the lands that surround The Bridge.
Extra Info From Daniel Frye’s Notepad:
- So hello and welcome to my coverage of FX’s The Bridge. I was a big fan of last season and look forward to spending the next several weeks writing about this second season.
- There was a lot of plot in this episode, but I am very curious about what will happen to Sonya, as she continues to check in on Dobbs, let alone fool around with his brother, Jim Phelps, which led to my favorite exchange of the episode: “What are you doing?” “Foreplay?” “Is this weird?” “Yeah”
- Second best exchange easily came from Matthew Lillard and his AA sponsor, played by Kevin from The Office, and the conversation they had about the band RUSH.
- I find Demian Bichir to be a great actor in general, but on The Bridge, he is essentially Mexican Robert De Niro, and I like that very much.
- Eleanor rented a hybrid, because she is worried about the polar bears.
- Also, it is apparently Eleanor with the man tattoo.