The second season of The Bridge (FX, Wednesdays, 10/9C) gets underway this evening with no perceptible loss of complexity and intrigue. In the first ten minutes, several distinct arcs are set up some seeming to have potential for connecting, some seeming more tangential – though all will, no doubt be woven together in some way or another.
The second season premiere, Yankee, opens with Lyle Lovett’s recurring character, Monty P. Flagman, entering a home to find a bloodbath. Death and dismemberment less than a couple minutes.
In short order we see Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) leading a raid on a suspected drug house, but finding nothing – except for an attempt on his life – by a member of his team; a woman (Franka Potente) and man crossing the border from Juarez to El Paso; Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) being called to the prison that holds her sister’s murder – he is near death – and meeting the man’s brother, Jack Dobbs; reporter Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) finds a huge clue to the money house from season one.
Even then, what we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. Before Yankee concludes, at least one arc will reach its conclusion – and set off more. There’s the new prosecutor for the State of Chihuahua; two kids on bikes; Sonya’s knack for doing just the wrong thing in her personal life; a new set of circumstances for a woman smuggled into the country by Sonya and Marco, and still more after that.
The script, by showrunner Elwood Reid, somehow presents all these arcs – and several solid bits of character building – without Yankee feeling overstuffed. Keith Gordon’s direction keeps individual arcs moving at a fairly deliberate pace while adding energy to the storytelling by cutting from one arc to another at exactly the right moment.
It’s worth noting that after following the Danish series Bron/Broen closely, plot-wise for season one, Season two is completely on its own. Yankee establishes that the idea of contrasting Juarez and El Paso via the characters of Marco and Sonya, and the unique tone of the show, remain constant.
Kruger continues to impress as Sonya Cross – Sonya might not be able to express her feelings adequately, but Kruger allows us see the turmoil going on inside her without appearing mannered or forced.
Bichir also does well with Marco, capturing that peculiar middle ground between losing everything and not giving a damn anymore, and trying to be a concerned and decent human being in a system that appears to make corruption its basic protocol.
Potente is quietly menacing – but capable of levels of manipulation and brutality that are completely at odds with her seeming serenity. The phrase ‘every picture tells a story’ applies here – in an unlikely, but appropriate manner.
The episodes made available to critics are, possibly, a touch better than their first season equivalents. That is a feat worthy of notice.
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