The Bridge Season 1 Review “Take the Ride, Pay the Toll”

Meredith Stiehm, creator of The Bridge, is herself responsible for some of the best written episodes in the two year run of Homeland. With episodes like “The Weekend”, “New Car Smell”, and “The Vest”, Stiehm established herself as a writer capable of delicately playing with looming feelings of dread while extracting emotional responses from the audience. “The Weekend” is itself a masterclass in television writing. The emotion is present in front of you for the entire hour, but the looming sense of dread can also be felt. It certainly helps to have to reigning Emmy winners delivering the majority of your dialogue, but Stiehm certainly deserves her fair share of credit as well.

That’s why it’s so befuddling to watch the central storyline of season one of Stiehm’s new series fall so flat. The criminal mastermind, the dead man switch, the impossible decision; it all felt familiar and beneath a show that’s so much more than the one personal crusade of David Tate. Still, the show is an adaptation of the Danish series Bron, so if the Danes did it, then we have to as well. Nonetheless, our bi-national nightmare is over. Despite Stiehm’s best efforts, all I could feel was relief when the episode was over. With the killer finally out of the way, we can go back to wallowing in the parts of The Bridge deserving of in-depth investigation.

Though I’m relieved to see the storyline come to a conclusion, the showdown on the bridge certainly had its noteworthy moments. As we’ve seen throughout the season, no one plays emotional anguish quite like Demian Bichir. He’s so good at displaying those emotions that I started to entertain the notion he may really shoot Daniel Frye. It would have been a flight of fancy to far, but Bichir made me a believer. He’s been terrific throughout the first season. What’s more interesting than his son’s death is the new phase of Marco’s life that’s about to begin. I’m excited to see where it goes.

Ultimately, that’s the big takeaway from the episode. We’ve put an end to the David Tate rampage. Now we get to see exactly what kind of show The Bridge wants to be. What they’re attempting to do is fairly unprecedented. They’ve given us a season long point of entry for the series and now the show seems to have a multitude of options going forward. The final two episodes are going to be quite telling. I do want to see what becomes of Marco Ruiz, but there’s a room full of dead bodies at the other side of the tunnel that have captured my imagination. Plus, Steven Linder is in the middle of the longest desert talk in the history of television. We need him back on the screen as well.

In any event, my least favorite parts of The Bridge have come to an end. With only two episodes left, the show only a brief opportunity to get people intrigued for season two. There are no shortage of options, but that is their task for the final two weeks.