The Bridge Ep. 1.04: “Maria of the Desert” ratchets up the tension, creating unexpected alliances along the way

Demian Bichir, Diane Kruger
Demian Bichir, Diane Kruger

The Bridge, Season 1, Episode 4: ‘Maria of the Desert’
Written by Chris Gerolmo
Directed by Bill Johnson
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on FX

Much of the first three episodes of The Bridge have focused on fleshing out the characters on both sides of the border, giving the audience a better idea of what makes them tick, and doing a fantastic job of it. This week’s episode used the framework of a standalone case, in the form of the search for the missing woman in the desert, to give a look at how the characters relate to each other, in another solid episode that introduces a promising new character while offering a look at how the Mexican cartels operate.

The exploration of the character relationships this week was particularly fascinating. The entrance of Fausto Galvan, in particular, is a promising development, as this episode indicates he will be the bridge, metaphorically speaking, that links Sonya and Marco’s investigation to Charlotte and the tunnel she now partially owns. Galvan’s relationship with Ruiz is also one worth watching, as the two are clearly on tenuous terms, with no real love lost. However, with an FBI taskforce now in place, if Galvan wants the border to revert back to its previous state of security, the best way to do that is to ensure that the serial killer is caught by authorities, and providing assistance to Ruiz is the best way for Galvan to ensure that. On Ruiz’s part, he will have to grapple with whom he considers the bigger evil, Galvan or the killer, and consider his family’s safety as well, which means what kind of relationship develops between the two in the coming weeks, especially with the killer indicating the length of his reach this episode, is something worth keeping an eye on.

Demian Bichir, Diane Kruger, Ted Levine
Demian Bichir, Diane Kruger, Ted Levine

Galvan’s interactions with Graciela is also an interesting glimpse into how the various cartels in Mexico co-exist and deal with each other. Graciela herself has yet to indicate any weakness, but her interactions to date have been limited to Charlotte, who is clearly out of her depth in dealing with such matters, so seeing how she deals with a professional equal such as Galvan provides another glimpse into what makes her tick. It will be interesting to see, as the season progresses, whether Graciela holds any sway among cartels beyond being the gatekeeper to the tunnel, and if she doesn’t, how she manages to hold her power, especially when people like Charlotte or Marco find this out.

Overall, this was another fantastic episode in what is shaping up to be a solid debut season for The Bridge. The tension surrounding finding the missing girl was wonderfully executed, and the episode as a whole moved at a quick pace that nonetheless didn’t feel rushed. Matthew Lillard’s Daniel Frye continues to be a solid addition to the show, and his interactions with Marco Ruiz this episode, without Sonya as a buffer, were interesting to watch. The brief look at Linder this week only served to add to the mystery of the character, as his actions firmly plant him on the side of good this week, yet very much in the line of fire. David Meunier and Ramon Franco are both great additions to the cast, despite the short-lived tenure of Meunier’s Ralph Gedman. On the other hand, Catalina Sandino Moreno has been sadly given little to do over the first four episodes, despite having the acting skills to match or exceed any other member of the cast, and hopefully she gains more of a focus in coming episodes. Whether or not seeing the issues plaguing Mexico changes Frye from his current state of apathy, and re-energizes his journalistic side, and what bigger scheme the serial killer has in mind, as well as how Linder factors into the other storylines, are all worth tuning in for next week.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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