The Bridge: The Complete Second Season
Fox // Unrated // $39.98 // January 13, 2015
Review by Kyle Mills | posted February 14, 2015
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Based off the Danish-Swedish series of the same name, Meredith Stiehm, best known for Homeland and Cold Case, and Elwood Reid, best known for his work on Cold Case and Hawaii Five-0, remade The Bridge for American audiences. For those who don't know what The Bridge is about, I'll fill you in. The title of the series is in reference to the Bridge of the Americas that serves as a border crossing between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The series follows two detectives, 1 from the US, and 1 from Mexico, who come together to help each other solve cases. At the end of its first season, Stiehm left the show to return to Homeland, leaving Reid on his own. This marked the beginning of the end for The Bridge, as it was cancelled due to unsatisfactory ratings (which scares me for The Americans since their ratings are even lower.) Did The Bridge deserve its fate? Or should it have gotten a third season?

Spoilers for Season 1: Skip next paragraph to avoid major spoilers for the previous season.

Season 2 picks up shortly after the events of Season 1 concluded. At the end of Season 1, the series left off with several hanging storylines; David Tate (, the serial killer that terrorized the detectives for the duration of the season, is now behind bars. Marco Ruiz (the truly underrated, Demian Bichir) was left reeling with the truly shocking loss of his son at the hands of Tate and has left Sonya (Diane Kruger) behind without a partner, looking to crime lord, Fausto Galvan (Ramon Franco), who is in hiding, for help in getting to Tate. Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) and Ray (Brian Van Holt) have become weapons smugglers after the ordeal with Graciela from Season 1. Linder (Thomas Wright) is still being awesome having really nothing to do with the overall plot, and Lastly, Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) and Adriana (Emily Rios) continue to look for her missing sister.

While quite of bit of Season 2 is about tying up and continuing everything from its first season, the primary focus of this season revolves around that of the terrifying Eleanor Nacht (played to wonderful perfection by Franka Potente), who has been sent by Fausto Galvan's cartel to tie up various loose ends for him in exchange of a mysterious promise. We obviously don't know what exactly this deal entails but what makes her so terrifying is the fact that she doesn't operate on the levels other antagonists do. Yes she has something that drives her, but she doesn't care about life, she doesn't care about money (which is what most television antagonists seem to be after nowadays), she'll literally kill you for no reason other than that you looked at her oddly, and Franka just brings this character to life with a unique menace to it that I don't think could have been equally matched by another actress. Watching her story unfold and how she tied into all of the other storylines throughout the season was simply a joy to watch.

There are various new subplots to watch throughout the season as well on top of the continuations from the previous season and Eleanor Nacht. Shockingly, Fausto Galvan is the most developed character this year outside of Marco. He takes a more of the spotlight this season as we see a bit more of what makes him tick, though as the season progressed I still didn't see what made everyone so terrified of this guy or even how he came to rule his territory with an iron fist. We got small glimpses here and there of his cruelty, but even at his most desperate, I didn't find him intimidating in the slightest, which is poor when it comes to your "big bad." Maybe the writers were taking the slow burn approach with Fausto where we'd see him unhinge further as the series progressed. Sonya continues to try leave her traumatizing past in the rear view mirror, but the news that her sister's killer is slowly dying forces her to confront it, which also leads to her meeting the killers brother (played by Nathan Phillips), leading to a dysfunctional relationship. Daniel Frye and Adriana presence (despite being in pretty much every episode) is scaled back quite a bit, but they're still looking into the disappearance of Adriana's sister. Oh and Hank (Ted Levine) is looking into retirement, so that can only mean one thing! (cue ominous music...)

The cancellation of The Bridge is a sad one for me. I enjoyed the hell out of this series. The series was well written, had an unbelievably strong cast, strong characters and development, and had the world that they built been expanded on in further seasons, The Bridge had the potential to be one of the greats on television. Sure, it had pacing problems, but every single episode was enjoyable with its strong and unique storytelling.

When it comes to performances in this series, The Bridge has everything you could need; Matthew Lillard is an absolute revelation as Frye. Point blank. Even if the show doesn't look terribly exciting, it deserves a look solely based on his performance alone. Franka Potente is probably the standout in a room full of stand outs with her bone chilling performance as the cartel's "cleaner." Demian Bichir is an actor who was never on my radar before this series, but wow, what a performance. He probably gets the most meat to chew on in this season as he deals with the fallout of his sons death, the corruption expanding in a job he loves, and the fact that he knows the man who killed his son is still alive out there. I can't wait to see his career soar with the upcoming Tarantino directed, Hateful Eight. Diane Kruger is every bit as effective as she was in Season 1, though they scale back her autistic symptoms quite a bit. Of course, who could forget about Ted Levine? What a joy to watch, he's excellent as always and even gets better material to work with here than in the previous season. Overall, The Bridge's cast is reason enough to check this show out.

- Positives:

+ The core cast is excellent. Honestly, The Bridge has, well... had, one of my favorite casts on television.

+ This isn't directed solely at Season 2 alone, but to the entire series in general. I've already gave the kudos to the cast, but I'm giving special mention to the performance of Matthew Lillard, who has unquestionably done the best work of his career in this show. I never thought I'd utter the words "Matthew Lillard is one of the best actors on television" but damn, he's both mesmerizing and captivating in the role of Daniel Frye. Watching him rock out to Rush while high/drunk is a television highlight for me.

+ Franka Potente's Eleanor is one of the best villains I've seen on television in a while, she made for a very compelling season long villain.

+ The world the show had built was limitless, it had a wealth of potential to be expanded further on.

- Negatives:

- The show has poor focus. It has a hard time properly balancing its storylines.

- Some characters in this season are wasted, like Ray (one of my favorites!), Charlotte, and Linder, who's completely separate from the rest of the cast in Season 2.

- The fact it was cancelled, and just like the first season, it had created plot lines for Season 3. What a shame.

Video and Audio:
The thirteen episodes of The Bridge: The Complete Second Season are presented in its original presentation of a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The color palette is vivid and bold, and I didn't notice too many signs of grain or noise throughout this collection of episodes.

If you own the first season of the series, you'll be getting the same treatment here. The audio for The Bridge is presented with a 5.1 English Dolby surround sound mix that is quite good. There were no obvious dropouts or distortions throughout.

Extras: - Building the Bridge - a collection of shorts about the cast, crew and story of Season 2 that clocks in at just less than an hour.

- Deleted scenes.

- Blurring the Border Line: An eleven minute segment that discuss Season 1 and the direction for season 2 with its story and characters.

Overall:
The Bridge: The Complete Second Season was at times fantastic, one particular episode I'd honestly put up there with the best episodes of television from the year. I was never really bored by the show, even when it reverted to its slow, methodical, and sometimes erratic pacing. The performances from the series were outstanding with multiple standouts; Matthew Lillard truly shines, Demien Belchir is one hell of an underrated actor, Franka Potente is menacing and commands the screen, and Diane Kruger had to carry the show on her back a lot of the time, pulling it off perfectly. I think if the show had a proper amount of time to breath then it could have been up there with the best on television. Recommended.



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