Earlier today, I published an interview with “The Bridge” showrunner Elwood Reid about how great season 2 has turned out to be. Now I have a review of tonight's episode coming up just as soon as I throw in a pair of custom boots…
There were times early in this season where I worried that the story was becoming too big and diffuse. Marco and Sonya were only occasionally together and the entire ensemble (seemingly larger than ever) was scattered all over the map in stories that were vaguely linked to one another. Even though I was enjoying certain parts of the season (Frye and Adriana's investigation, or the compelling oddness of Franka Potente's work as Eleanor), the whole of it wasn't entirely working.
But this second half of season 2 has been a powerful, thrilling reward for the slow and expansive first. Everything is moving faster now, and everything has contracted down to the bare essentials. Though “Eidolon” offers a few brief interludes where the reporters follow CIA spook Alex Buckley around El Paso – with the rekindling of their partnership a nice parallel to the similar one happening between Sonya and Marco – virtually all of it is simply dealing with the immediate aftermath of the massacre at Red Ridge, as wounds are tended to(*), trails are followed, back-up plans (like Fausto kidnapping Sebastian's daughter) are deployed, and characters are literally colliding with one another. It's tense, it's exciting, and on a few occasions I had to remind myself to keep inhaling and exhaling, lest I collapse just like Eleanor does at the end.
(*) What an excellent job by both the creative team and Andy Buckley (David Wallace from “The Office”) to give us a sense of this character's entire sordid, desperate history in just a few small details, including the toddler seat in the back of his car and the swig of beer he takes before operating on Eleanor. The pathetic doctor (or ex-doctor) who does emergency house calls for organized crime is a very familiar trope (and even inspired an entire FOX series a few years back), but this one felt like an actual person and not just a plot device.
This is a big event, both as a crime for the relatively peaceful city of El Paso, and as an event that disrupts the lives of our characters. Hank is in danger. Charlotte is dead, and while she was never one of the show's more successful creations, I appreciated that there was room for Marco to mourn the loss of a woman he slept with, and whose justifiable fears he shrugged off because he didn't need more drama in his life.
Given that we have an omniscient view of the world and know more than any single character, it could feel frustrating to watch, say, Sonya and Marco figure out that Sebastian and Fausto have turned on each other, or Daniel and Adriana slowly uncover the CIA's involvement in things. But the characters are too well-drawn for that to happen, especially since nobody seems to be kept in the dark just for the sake of moving the plot along. When Sonya and Marco are finally in a room together thinking logically about everything that's happened, of course they're going to recognize the schism in the cartel, and they don't come across as dumb just because they don't have the ability to watch an episode of “The Bridge” like we do.
Terrific, elegantly simple stuff this week, and the next few episodes are just as strong.
What did everybody else think?