The throat has been cleared, the table has been set and The Bridge is starting to feel like it has some forward momentum. You can’t begrudge a show—especially one that essentially rebooted after its first season, shuffled its bad guys, and introduced a host of new people—from such setups. It’s certainly one of the downsides of episodic reviewing—especially for a show that has gone from a less case-of-the-week style to more of a character piece—that these episodes tend to lack the meat of those later in the season. But “The Acorn” is one of the first episodes where the writers said, “Great, you all know each other, now let’s get cracking.” Señor Cerisola’s position as CEO of Cleo Internacional and Eleanor’s affinity for a supposedly feral man in a cage were two of the first signs that The Bridge is ready to get into its second season. Here were some genuine twists that bolstered the richness of previously introduced characters. Cerisola was no longer a man in the shadows of Galvan’s service, and Eleanor is no longer just a shunned Mennonite murderer on the run. While Eleanor has been a fascinating force, it occurred to me during this episode that for as much as she’s been onsceen, she’s essentially taken an extended walk (with a couple kills in between). But now we know why she killed Yovanni (he touched her inappropriately) and why she’s in Galvan’s service (she’s got money skills, he has her odd friend in a cage).

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One of the more interesting discussions that took place throughout the episode is between Marco and prosecutor Abelardo Pintado. Demián Bichir plays Marco’s depression with such an understated pain, that it heightens the dramatics of Manuel Uriza’s Pintado, who wants Marco to inform on Robles and Fausto Galvan. “You don’t to be on their side, do you?” Pintado asks. “There are no sides,” Marco responds. This exchange encapsulates what the first season was really all about. The overarching theme of the first season was diametric opposites—the U.S. and Mexico, poor and rich, good and evil. But the end of the first season blurred those opposites. Evil is in the eye of the beholder (even if that beholder was a psychopath). There is good and bad in everything, things are not so black and white. To Marco, there are no sides, yet there is survival, something he decides to put in jeopardy when faced with Cerisola’s apathy in light of the death of a child, around the same age as Marco’s dearly departed Gus.

Bichir regained some of the power in this episode that he imbued Marco with in the first season. His showdown with Daniel and Adriana after the suicide of bank manager Benjamin Delarge showed how hollow of a man he has become without the signifiers—booze, random hookups—that previously demonstrated his depression. Some of the highlights of these first quarter episodes are watching him hit the emotional notes, with Diane Kruger (who has her moments as Sonya but has never floored me), keeping right up with him in some of her finest moments of the series altogether. Her evolving relationship with Jack Webb is troubling though, especially the focus on their sexual predilections. Not to begrudge a girl a kink or anything, but the writers will certainly have to handle Sonya’s desire to be choked by the brother of her sister’s rapist and murderer with quite a degree of sensitivity. Watching the scene, I’m skeptical as to its point, although I’m not immediately against the decision. It needs to lead to a place of substance and not just gratuitous displays of sexuality.

Steven Linder and Charlotte Millwright’s storylines still feel out of place, although they are certainly coming into the fold more naturally than I would have imagined at the beginning of the season. Charlotte’s story in the “The Acorn” was my favorite of the two. In the first season, one of the joys of watching her story unfold was seeing a woman with no power figure out she has all of it. Rather than regain that power in between seasons from dirtbag Ray, she seemed to cede more of it. But the writers also ceded her story. What was once Charlotte’s plot became Ray’s plot. I enjoy Ray as a character but Charlotte is the one with potential to be a deeper figure in the series. My heart sank a little as she acquiesced to Alaska, not because I fully believed they would make it there but because Ray was taking control. But she regains her own sense of self, an important step for her character and her storyline. Hers is a story that makes sense the most when it’s told through her point of view, not through her boyfriend’s. Linder, on the other hand, feels like much more of a holdover from the first season. He’s such a weird, interesting character that I would hate to see him go, but his involvement to the main plot is through Eva. This is Eva’s story at this point, not his. With Marco teaming up with Pintado, she’ll certainly have a larger involvement in the coming episodes, but seeing her story unfold through Linder is an odd choice. Like Ray, he’s the more fun onscreen character, but it’s also not his story (anymore). It’ll be important to see how he’s folded into further episodes concerning Eva’s assault and how it effects Robles’ position.

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Stray observations:

  • “Do you even care that he’s dead?” “Oh my God no.” Good to know Daniel’s suicide soundtrack is Captain Beeheart, although Stoli is a poor last drink choice.
  • Cooper! Aw, I missed weirdo Cooper.
  • “Taylor Swift? My wife got me into her.”
  • Cerisola smokes an e-cig. Even international villains have trouble quitting smoking.
  • I don’t really know what to make of Raul Quintana’s death and its subsequent aftermath on the hitman who saw Jesus reflected in his blood. It’s such a little snippet and I have no idea where it’s going.

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