The Bridge Season 1 Review “Rio”

Whether you like The Bridge or not as a television show, one has to be engaged by its dogged devotion to two masters. On one side, season one of The Bridge is attempting to tell a compelling serial killer mystery complete with chopped in half people, coyotes (the human kind), and strategic power outages. On the other hand, there is the task of world-building. While season one may center around the pursuit of one serial killer, it’s merely the entry point for a much larger tapestry and much broader focus to be seen in (presumed) subsequent seasons. Often, when TV shows attempt to service two masters, they don’t serve either one particularly well. I think the jury may still be out on The Bridge, because the third episode gave us a glimpse of a series that I’m not sure I want to watch.

One of things that really worked for me over the first two episodes was the performance of Demian Bichir as Marco Ruiz. He was a man of genuine warmth, but he was a man weathered by his circumstances. He played these two parts exceptionally through two episodes. Bichir is still good here, but what he is asked to do in this episode paints a different portrait of the man. Certainly we shouldn’t know everything about the characters in two episodes, but some of his beats felt weird. His pit bull act in the interrogation room may have been a tactic, but I’m not sure what he accomplished by sleeping with Charlotte. Both of those characters have enough going on that they’re rendezvous didn’t need to happen. Now, one of the only likable characters in the series becomes demonstrably less likable. I don’t think Ruiz has to be infallible, but he’s been painted as a man who is able to resist the excess that his colleagues take in on a regular basis. Here, he indulges in a different kind of excess. It just wasn’t a good look for his character.

Some other things in this week’s episode didn’t quite work for me. For starters, Daniel Frye’s trip to Juarez was a cartoonish mess. No one is denying Juarez is a dangerous and violence place. However, having Frye watch a man be shot right in front of him seemed a bit much. There are plenty of ways to get Frye into Adriana Mendez’s house that don’t involve one man shooting another in the head. The entire storyline played out too much like a stereotype the show has taken great pains to avoid. Also not working is the story about Charlotte and her ranch. With Charlotte seeming superfluous to our story at this point, it’s tough to get invested in the fate of her horse and the mysterious woman that finds ways on to her ranch. Some closer tie-ins to our central storyline beyond Marco Ruiz’s little coyote would be helpful for her character.

While not everything worked in this episode, Steven Linder continues to be impressive. Thomas M. Wright is making some interesting vocal choices, but his ever expanding story appears valid to the main storyline. His interrogation at the hands of Ruiz and Sonya Cross is only notable because of his skill in stealing a scene. It was a tremendously engaging scene. At this point, I don’t think he’s the killer, but I know I’ll continue to root for him to share a room with Ruiz and Cross.

This was kind of a clunky episode, but a lot of it can be overlooked in the name of world-building. The Bridge fancies itself as more than just a serial killer drama. At the end of the season, the show will reset. More will be needed in order to convince audiences in season two. I thought tonight’s episode showed us a glimpse of the possibilities of the show as it pertains to multiple seasons. How effective the show is at introducing us to this world is up for debate.