Jul 10, 2013
A body is found precisely on the Mexico/US border and two agents, one from either nation’s jurisdiction, are fighting over it. That’s the simple conceit of the new FX series The Bridge. Like any modern drama worth your time, however, the creators of The Bridge smuggle intrigue, atmosphere, and character details to spare through this Trojan horse corpse. The carefully painted ambiance of a tense yet sleepy border town feels like a world from the pages of Cormac McCarthy. Diane Kruger’s Detective Sonya Cross is complex and naturalistic as an El Paso-based investigator living with Asperger’s. But even side characters who we’ve barely spent minutes with seem to demand their own subplots. The show takes its time, revealing details of the bizarre crime sparingly while immersing us in characters who live, breath, cheat, love, and hurt convincingly.
Few shows go through the trouble of getting the details right, especially when its central conceit creates sufficient tension. It’s soon revealed that the body found at the border is a composite, the lower half and upper half of a Hispanic woman and a white woman, respectively. It’s a lot of red meat to throw your audience, and only halfway through the first episode at that. Demian Bachir’s Detective Marco Ruiz does an excellent job as Cross’s opposite number, a Juarez-based investigator who’s far more jaded than his American counterpart. Despite this, he’s sincere and willing to meet Cross’s excessively conscientious aesthetic halfway. In doing so, they discover that these murders are the tip of a very nasty iceberg that will complicate relations between the two nations, perhaps proving the killer’s point in the process.
The Bridge hits all the right notes as a compelling, addictive modern cable drama. It may be the most sophisticated crime drama since The Wire. Or it may be its own beast altogether.