Wednesday, July 17, 2013

'The Bridge' Review - 1.02 Calaca

        On the newest episode of FX's The Bridge, Marco and Sonya investigate the body from the bridge; Daniel learns that the Killer isn't done with him; and Charlotte makes an unwelcome discovery on her property.

        The Bridge's second episode is bookended by images of altars symbolizing death. At the top of the hour, it's marked by the Virgin Mary statue next to a dead body in the underground tunnels that Charlotte discovers. At the end, the statue has become the dead body as it stands over the deaths of those travelers desperate enough to drink the water. Death is everywhere. How that imagery is being utilized opens the universe of this show up to more than just the singular death of the judge. There are much bigger issues at play here and the show is smartly and adeptly able to address them. This offers a huge insight into the politics and socio-economic state of things in this area. The Bridge is not shying away from tackling these polarizing issues and it's immensely better because of that.
        Sonya and Marco continue their investigate of the two bodies of the bridge. But while they're working the case from their angle, the show is very astute at building up the worlds around them. Sonya and Marco are the leads on this case but that doesn't necessarily make them the ultimate center of the universe of The Bridge. Sure, it's great to see both of their worlds continue to be fleshed out. But it is amazing at how intricately mapped out the details are of the other characters roaming this world. Daniel Frye and Adrianna appeared very late in the pilot - but made quite the impact. Now, their involvement in this case is crossing over much more. It gives the show yet another angle of interaction and how they see the case is differently than how Sonya or Marco see the case. If they can keep digging, then they believe this is a story that could win them their own Pulitzer. That is in stark contrast to Marco - who fears that this case will be deadly for either him or his family. That gives him pause on helping Sonya too much when they both have to cross back over the border to Juarez. His El Captain stands for everything the killer is trying to acutely point out. That because of this police corruption and the cartels, justice cannot be served for the thousands killed in the city. Conversely, Sonya sees the case as one that needs to be solved. Her eye for details caught the bead left at each of the crime scenes. But how far she is willing to push may just be fatal for any one of the characters caught up in the case. She compartmentalizes things to an extreme - as evidenced in her sex scene - and yet is quite thrown for a loop by many social niceties like Marco's wife calling him just to hear his voice.
        Ask any dramatic writer and they will say that episode two is always the most difficult to write for a new series. They have to try to live up to the level of the pilot while also showing how the series will work on a week-to-week basis but leaving enough material to cover a season's worth of episodes. The Bridge's second hour does a great job of holding up and perhaps is even better than the first simply because of how intimate and close these characters already feel. Plus it is not afraid to pull out some answers while staying pretty mysterious about how everything will eventually intersect. Charlotte and Steven still are pretty isolated and how and why they will intersect with Sonya, Marco et all is perhaps the most intriguing thing from these first two episodes. It's easy to see the show pointing the arrows at Steven as the serial killer but things couldn't be that easy, right? Additionally, Charlotte's discovery of the tunnels helping immigrants come to the United States was thematically rich for the tone and universe of the piece. But how that will integrate with the rest of the story leaves me immensely curious - but in a good way!

So what did everyone think of the episode? Was the cartel member's strangulation of that woman a bit too heavy-handled? Is Steven the killer? Do you even care who the killer is? Or do you care more about these characters and how their investigation is addressing the much larger issues? Share your thoughts in the comments.