The Bridge Season 2, Episode 1 “Yankee”
Written by Elwood Reid
Directed by Keith Gordon
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on FX
Unexplained pools of blood, assassins, break-ins, and sexcapades mark the opening of The Bridge‘s second season, an uncomfortably scattered hour that only seems to prove this show still hasn’t figured out what it wants to be. A jumbled mess of familiar and new faces dealing with both new and familiar problems, “Yankee” is an hour that ignores major plot threads from last season (if only for the time being) in order to introduce a plethora of new ideas, without giving the audience much sense of direction as to what this seemingly random collection of scenes actually means. Is it intriguing? Sure, there are parts of “Yankee” that suggest this season of The Bridge could head in some interesting directions: but surrounded by so many other plots and characters, it’s unclear what this season actually wants to be about.
There are entire stories from last season’s finale that are completely ignored: Linder, Charlotte, and Fausto Galvan are all absent from this episode, leaving major holes in The Bridge‘s world (though the latter is mentioned a few times in passing, with the US government pissed that they’ve spent $10 million hunting a guy to no avail) and trying to fill it in with new stories I can only assume they thought more intriguing.
Chief among these new, “interesting” story lines is the violent bookkeeper Eleanor Nacht, whose character amounts to a lot of note-talking, plain-dressing, and uber-violent reactions. Are we supposed to take a woman who has a man’s ear cut off for spilling tea on her seriously? From the moment the lovely Franka Potente steps on screen, The Bridge goes to painstaking lengths to establish her evil qualities; for the most part, it feels forced, over-zealous attempts to establish a big bad villain without actually telling us why she exists. It doesn’t feel like “Yankee” is trying to build her as a mysterious character (the leering camera on her tattoos certainly doesn’t do it); it just feels like the show’s withholding too much information, like why she’s murdering a real estate agent who had a bunch of people murdered in one of his houses – and how Charlotte’s “lawyer” from last season plays into all this.
After last season’s debacle with David Tate, I can’t have a ton of hope for any mass killer appearing on The Bridge: it already appears the show’s embracing the most superficial, overtly violent ways to create drama, which drowns out any of the much more interesting moments that happen on the show’s fringes, like when Marco and Sonya share a quick visit in his depressing bachelor pad, or Frye has lunch with Adriana and her girlfriend Lucy. These moments are isolated in “Yankee”, short moments of reflection between the frustratingly vague events on Hank’s farm, or the mind of the man who killed Sonya’s sister, or Sonya having sex with said killer’s brother and being really weird about it.
Even after a long break, The Bridge still has no confidence in its best aspects, abandoning any kind of social examination or character exploration when a louder, bloodier, vaguely conspiratorial plot comes along (what is up with the new D.A. of Chihuahua? Can we even take him seriously when he’s the D.A. of Chihuahua?) to bring the obligatory “excitement”. Even some of these lesser plots could be interesting – Marco having to look over his shoulder while trying to avoid the shadows of his superiors, for example – if the show actually spent time focusing and developing them. “Yankee”, unfortunately, isn’t really concerned with that, instead piling on the mysteries and murders, eliminating any kind of meaningful emotional nucleus. Maybe this depth will come as the season continues; but in the second season’s first hour, it feels like The Bridge is more muddled and unfocused then ever.