First Watch: The Bridge – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

“Lorraine Gates on the Bridge of the Americas? Maybe someone is trying to send a message.”

FX’s series The Bridge was pitched to me as “Crossing Lines on a smaller scale” — that is, it is another series following serial killers that cross borders to elude capture, but this time, the team chasing these killers is composed of a pair of detectives from two countries instead of an ensemble of Europeans. I didn’t learn until I started looking up names for this review that The Bridge is actually a remake of a Scandinavian series of the same name from a few years back that was centered around a double murder on the Øresund Bridge (the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö) while the remake is centered around the same situation, but on the Bridge of the Americas (the bridge between El Paso and Juárez). As someone who hasn’t watched the original, I’m not sure how closely the American version is following the Scandinavian version, so if you have seen the original and choose to comment, please be wary of spoiling what might come ahead!

The pilot opens with a dead body on the Bridge of the Americas and a bit of a ‘dispute’ between American detective, Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), and Mexican detective, Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir), regarding who has jurisdiction over the murder. Well, not so much a dispute as Cross really wants the case and Ruiz doesn’t really care (since there are enough murders in Juárez as it is). While I originally thought that Cross was simply a brash rookie trying to establish herself with her first big case (which is still a possibility), it becomes clear — though it is never stated — throughout the pilot that Cross falls somewhere on the “autism spectrum” (specifically Asperger syndrome, in her case) — especially when she tries to ‘console’ the husband of the victim.

The victim, however, turns out to be a pair of victims — the lower half of a young Mexican girl and the upper half of an American woman (a judge who is anti-immigration, the be exact). The mismatched body was laid directly on the border line between El Paso and Juárez on the Bridge of the Americas, which is revealed at the end of the pilot to be intended as a symbolic gesture to the police department from the serial killer.

The pilot’s main storyline deals with the upcoming formation of a new joint task force (I assume to be lead by Cross and Ruiz) and the problems that stem from Cross’s abrasiveness. It’s clear that she would rather be working the case by herself, but Ruiz is adamant about doing the right thing (something he doesn’t usually get to do) and shows no signs of letting Cross push him out of the case. The case eventually leads the duo to newspaper reporter Daniel Frye (Matthew Lilard), who finds himself in quite the predicament as his car was found to be involved in the murder and/or the transportation of the bodies. It seems that Frye had nothing to do with the murder, however, and his car was simply stolen.

There are also two side storylines which have yet to be explained — one involving a woman who was “looking at horses” in Juárez with her husband when he had a heart attack and another involving a man who seems to be the killer (or at least involved). Luckily, these storylines are executed well enough that I’m interested in where they go rather than feeling like they take up time better used to advance the main storyline. I’m sure they will tie in down the road, but until then, I’m interested to see how they unravel.

I wasn’t looking forward to tackling another crime drama since it is our most reviewed genre (especially one that was pitched as being like another show I had just reviewed), but my hesitation is gone now. The pilot felt fresh and intriguing despite existing in a season oversaturated with crime dramas. While the killer’s motive (which was revealed at the end of the pilot) was one of the major reasons that The Bridge won me over, it was really Demián Bichir’s performance that really sold me — he could probably carry this show on his own.

Is it Wednesday yet?

DISCLAIMER: My praise for the The Bridge is based on what it will become, more than what it currently is. The pilot was strong, but it didn’t blow me away (as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t expect it to). However, I do prefer story arcs over the one-off episodes and the story arcs present in the pilot interest me. We’ll see how good The Bridge actually is at the end of its first season.

  • Rating: “Is it Wednesday yet?”
  • Comment: The Bridge is looking to be one of the stronger shows to start this summer, but it is hard to rate how a good a show with season-long story arcs is until those story arcs have been completed.
  • You might like The Bridge if you like: Crossing Lines, crime dramas, season-long story arcs

The Bridge is currently in its first season, with episodes airing on FX at 10 PM PST on Wednesdays.

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About Daniel

I'm a guy who spends way too much time playing board games and watching television with his friends. View all posts by Daniel

3 responses to “First Watch: The Bridge – “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

  • Josie Kafka

    I really liked this, too. It was so well done, and Bichir was awesome. I’m excited for more episodes.
    But, I like it on an intellectual level and don’t feel much emotional commitment to it yet. Aside from Ruiz, none of the characters are clicking for me, although Annabeth Gish’s character has potential. I’m curious to see if The Bridge can sustain my interest.

    • Daniel

      Apparently, I am too swamped to keep up with this show every week .. It might be that I already have Crossing Lines filling up my ‘borded transgressing cop drama’ fix, but it might also be that Bichir’s performance was the only thing that REALLY got me into this show. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I am with you — I don’t have any emotional commitment to it yet.

      Have you been keeping up with the series? If so, has it improved? Has Gish’s character seen some growth? When I get some room to breathe, maybe I’ll watch a few more episodes and write a Turning Point (if there is one). We’ll see.

  • Josie Kafka

    I was gobsmacked by a scene in the second episode. Even though I saw it coming, I thought it was incredibly striking and creepy and awful. But I haven’t seen the third episode yet; I’ve been re-doing my living room this weekend and all of my time has been devoted to IKEA bookshelves. I suppose it says something about my (lack of) devotion to the show that allen wrenches and dowels took precedence.

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