Through six episodes, this much is clear: For good and for ill, ‘The Bridge’ is a challenging show.
I respect the hell out of it. This is a series that doesn’t just engage in a discussion of a hot-button political issue, it sets itself squarely on the border, making the topic of immigration both a central part of the series’ narrative and the backrop of the show itself.
However, since the fiercely political pilot, the ‘The Bridge’ has cooled noticeably on pushing those aspirations. Sure, the issues are present in most everything the show does; but on a week-to-week basis, this is very much a crime drama, not a social allegory. A huge portion of the screen time each week is devoted to case-related developments, and the narrative is being structured squarely around catching the serial killer.
So while most everything is expertly executed, I’m having a hard time investing in a dark, largely humorless serial killer story centered around an intentionally unlikable character.
And that’s the main problem I had with “ID”, which leaned so heavily on Sonya Cross’ undiagnosed Asperger’s and never quite came together as an hour allegedly designed to entertain viewers (or at least make us think).
Diane Kruger is a fine actress, but ‘The Bridge’ is not giving her much to work with. I mean, it makes perfect sense why Sonya would be short and unsympathetic while interviewing young Gina, who just witnessed her father’s brutal murder. It makes less sense why Hank, who knows her better than anyone, would leave her alone to do the interrogation, or why Marco wouldn’t take a run at Gina himself. I mean, we’ve seen these exact beats three or four times this season, where Sonya’s inability to express sympathy inhibits her ability to do her job. You’d think steps would be taken to fill in for that weakness – and I certainly don’t mean taking Gina out to a burger place and letting her escape and get herself killed. For ‘The Bridge’ to be enjoyable, its central characters better be competent. In this episode, I don’t feel like they acted competently.
Gina’s death is also a somewhat disappointing development given how long we spent establishing her character just last week. While it wasn’t a true red herring – now Sonya & Co. know the killer is monitoring them, and have basically confirmed that he’s associated with law enforcement – her quick death makes Gina seem more like a diversion than a meaninful aspect of the series, which somewhat lowers my percpetion of last week’s excellent episode in retrospect. I thought we were being introduced to an important character in the story. Turns out, all the material introducing Gina was largely a somewhat cynical attempt to make her death matter at all.
I’m sure the material involving Charlotte and her sketchy new boyfriend/old fling Ray will matter in the grand scheme of things, but right now it’s disconnected and shallow. This is the kind of story that would work if ‘The Bridge’ was interested first and foremost in building and interesting world. Instead, the series’ primary objective is solving this specific case, thus rendering the Charlotte material a sexy sideshow, at best.
To put it bluntly: I am frustrated by ‘The Bridge.’ I’m no longer looking forward to watching the show each week, and even when it’s good (like last week), I’m more impressed by the proficiency of those behind the show than what’s actually happening on screen. I still have no doubt that this season is going to end in an interesting place, but right now, ‘The Bridge’ is not a particularly interesting show.