FX has been heavily promoting their new series “The Bridge” for months. And I have to admit that I was equal parts excited and concerned. The network does push the boundaries frequently, but they can do it while really getting things right (“Justified,” “The Shield”) or really just going over a cliff (“Nip/Tuck,” “American Horror Story”). And the topic (a serial killer working both sides of the US/Mexico border) and the fact that quite a few of the actors and the locations would be Mexican… well, I’ve rarely seen a mainstream network portray “Hispanic” without messing it up.
There are a few reasons I was really looking forward to seeing what FX ultimately did with the show:
- They cast Demián Bichir as the Chihuahua State Police office Marco Ruiz. I love love love Demián Bichir. (Did I mention that I love him?) I just re-watched his seasons on Weeds. He is a talented actor and I’m just thrilled that a Mexican actor was actually cast to play a Mexican role. How rare is that?
- Even though this makes me biased, the fact that many of the smaller roles in the show are going to be cast by additional Hispanic actors is a big draw for me, even if it’s by necessity.
- They are talking about the hundreds upon thousands of women who have been killed in Juarez. Yes, it’s a plot-line. Yes, it’s going to make it seem somewhat fictional. But I think that saying it over and over may make some people look up and say “How many women are being tortured and killed?” and help get something done at some point. If that makes me a wide-eyed optimist, so be it.
- The story sounds interesting — a woman’s body is found literally on the border between Mexico and the US. Upon further investigation it turns out it’s two bodies placed together (top half of one plus bottom half of another); one body is Mexican and one body is American.
The concept for the show was taken from a European where a body was found on the border between Denmark and Sweden. Making this about Laredo and Juarez is brilliant, especially since there is already a serial killer (or serial killers) working in Juarez today. (Macabre, I know, but not more than any of the other movie of the weeks that come out.)
This week was the second episode and so far I’m enjoying what I’ve seen. Ironically, Bichir’s character is the most well-developed and three-dimensional so far. We’ve been presented with his family (wife and kids), situation at work, and been given a nice look at the motivations behind what affects his life on a daily basis.
Bichir’s American counterpart is Laredo Homicide Detective Sonya North, played by Diane Kruger. North seems to be a brilliant detective but there’s something different about her. She doesn’t have any empathy or human interaction filters. I’ve seen some articles theorizing on the different diseases or syndromes the character might have to explain the almost comedic disconnect she has with other people (most have agreed on Asperger’s). All I know is that it’s odd to see the pairing: he’s very easygoing and personable, and she’s difficult by default.
The universe they’re creating on the show is interesting and draws you in, especially since so much of it is rooted in reality. To those of use who have family in Mexico or who travel there frequently, we know that the Juarez scenes aren’t too exaggerated for a border town.
Additional cast members of note:
- Annabeth Gish, formerly of “The X-Files,” plays a rick newly-widowed Texan whose role is still being explained. I was please to see, in the first episode, that Gish’ costume, makeup and body language all were spot-on for a wealthy Texas woman. The second episode move to the cliche a bit with the clothes, but still very close to real.
- Ted Levin, well-known as the chief of police on “Monk,” plays Lt. Hank Wade, North’s well-meaning boss. Wade shields her quite a bit and runs interference for her personality quirks.
The show airs on FX on Wednesdays evenings. There are ten more new episodes in this season, I am told.
— Written by Sandra Fernandez