Review: ‘The Bridge’ – ‘Goliath’

Senior Television Writer
08.27.14 29 Comments


A few quick thoughts on tonight's “The Bridge” coming up just as soon as I blame my orthodics…

“The Bridge” is a fine-looking show(*), but it's also not one I've previously felt had a distinct visual style. Or, rather, I felt that way until I watched “Goliath,” which was directed by Jakob Verbruggen, who is new to this show but directed “The Fall” (which I have not seen, and have heard mixed things about) and a lot of TV shows in Belgium. “Goliath” looks interesting, but there are long stretches where it looks nothing like an episode of “The Bridge.”

(*) Except when it comes to scenes (like the assault on Fausto Galvan's warehouse in this episode) that take place in a lot of darkness, which are impenetrable no matter what quality of TV or screener I watch on.

A lot of the series is made up of duos – Sonya and Marco, Frye and Adriana, Charlotte and Ray, etc. – in deep conversation with one another. In “Goliath,” Verbruggen chooses to film many of these scenes – Sonya visiting Hank's ranch, Eleanor discussing Fausto with Sebastian, Eva telling Linder about her childhood – using extreme close-ups. And he presents much of the final Linder/Eva conversation elliptically: Linder is first glimpsed only from a distance, with lens flare obscuring his face, and then the rest of the story is told as we watch Linder attack another of the men who abducted Eva.

I don't know if Verbruggen was aiming to do something more intimate – this is an episode where the characters are dealing with a lot of raw feelings, and aren't sure whom to trust anymore – or if he merely felt like doing something different in his first job in American television, but it winds up being a distraction. Sometimes, when TV dramas employ outside directors – whether famous to the audience or not – the results can be very effective. Rian Johnson's episodes of “Breaking Bad,” for instance, had their own look, but they ultimately (even “Fly”) looked like episodes of the series. And sometimes, you deliberately invite a Very Special Guest Director in to do their own thing; I'm sure the “CSI” producers were very happy that Quentin Tarantino made his episode look and feel more like a Tarantino film. Sometimes, though, it's a distraction – which is how I ultimately felt about “Goliath.”

It's still an interesting episode in many ways, as it deals with the aftermath of “Lamia” and shows how isolated so many of the characters have become. Sonya trusts neither Marco nor Hank, Marco is again caught between two sides – and both Sonya and Marco at least briefly wind up working without any kind of supervisor above them – Frye briefly goes off on his own to respond to the attack on Adriana's girlfriend, and Galvan finds himself on the run, with only his large (and now very scared) sidekick, while Robles, Eleanor and others ponder changes in allegiance.

There's a lot going on, and clearly a lot of road still to travel in the season, including seeing what exactly Galvan's man the Chopper has in mind for Sonya. “Goliath” is a good pivot point episode. I just wish I didn't keep noticing how different it looked.

What did everybody else think?

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