“The Crazy Place” is an assured first season finale. It’s almost cocky in its confidence that next year, we’ll be hanging with Sonya, Marco, Charlotte, Steven, Daniel, and Adriana once more. It concerns itself wholly with setting up plots for the next season. At the same time, the episode doesn’t wrap anything up, in part because it doesn’t have much to wrap up. The main storyline was finished two episodes ago, while Charlotte and Steven seemed so out of the loop that their stories needed to begin more so than end.
I liked it.
There’s an assuredness to “The Crazy Place,” that relays the message: “Hey, that whole serial killer deal? That was just to hook you in. Now, let’s get down to business.” In a perfect world, The Bridge would resemble a show like Justified, with bigger and smaller arcs cohabitating in one show. But the Beast/David Tate plot was so all-consuming that it didn’t allow the show to focus on both the rich world it had created because of the mounting Tate-related body count, especially after the connection to Marco was revealed. “The Crazy Place” set up auspicious beginnings for a season two that won’t be bogged down by the attention suck that was the Tate killings.
As of the finale, there are two plots I’m looking forward to seeing expanded next season. The first is Charlotte Millwright and her growing drug trade. Ol' Ray-Ray made it to the final episode, despite my predictions, but he’s becoming increasingly superfluous, and he knows it. The growing partnership between Cesar and Charlotte, the return of Lyle Lovett as Monty P. Flagman, and Charlotte’s growing sense of agency (“Does Cesar grab my ass?”) all bode well for her storyline. She is becoming more than the aggrieved, jilted widow whose main connection to the plot was sleeping with Marco. Then there’s the addition of Timothy Bottoms as the mysterious Arliss Frome, who seems to know everything about Charlotte’s illegal machinations, yet won’t discuss where he’s from or who he works for.
Charlotte and Linder were two of the series’ most problematic elements because they never really fit. With Charlotte’s growing roll across the border, she is set up to become a part of the fabric of the next season. Linder, on the other hand, has not. He didn’t have much to do this episode, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about his place in the next season. While all of the other plots feel like puzzle pieces that could come together in ways that they did not before, Linder still seems like an outlier. A savior and killer, Linder’s persistence is the reason Eva is still alive, but now that she’s saved, where does he fit in? I will also be bummed if we never hear from Linder’s safe house again. It was just too enigmatic to be let go. The same could be said for Linder who still borders on caricature rather than character.
The other plot I’m most excited about is Daniel Frye and Adriana’s search for Millie Quintana, the 100-year-old woman keeping watching over the cartel millions. Sure, it’s exceedingly convenient that Daniel and Adriana land a marlin of a story on the first day back (not to mention, no print media outlet has enough staff to send two ace reporters out on a softball), but the money trail is a potentially fascinating thread to follow in the upcoming season, especially with the discovery that there are not only dollars in play, but Euros as well. Who is Millie Quintana? That’s what I want to know too.
To continue the connection between the journalists and Sonya and Marco, Adriana’s sister never gets off the bus after work. She’s become one of the Girls of Juarez. While talking to Ted, Sonya announces her intentions to follow this case, even if it means she’s out of her jurisdiction. Working this case means being with Marco, one of the few people she’s connected with, and she doesn’t want to let that connection go. I don’t really believe that Ted, no matter how far his affection extends, would allow Sonya to work the case. Those girls aren’t just in another county, but another country, and surely El Paso has its own issues to deal with. But Sonya gets her way, and discovers that the missing girl she’s chosen to focus on—Eva—was taken by the police, and is only alive because of one moral (and now deceased) cop who decided she wasn’t meant to die that day. The question now becomes who wanted Eva dead in the first place, and how far they’re willing to go to keep her silent. Sonya gets her wish and has Marco back as a partner, but she recognizes he’s damaged goods. As he says himself, he just doesn’t care anymore. Marco returns to the room where he first refused Fausto Galvan, and takes Fausto up on his offer for help. He wants David Tate dead and he wants to do it. The final shot of the season could have been a cheesefest, closing in on on Marco’s eye, which I read as a sort of Hammurabi-style promise of revenge. But it worked, if only because Demián Bichir, the series’ undisputed MVP, telegraphs Marco’s pain throughout his entire body. Here is a man who is about to become everything his enemy wanted for him. But, as I’ve mentioned before, he just doesn’t give a shit.
The trick to keep the second season of The Bridge together will involve avoiding one of the major missteps of the first season. For a season of television with a central theme of duality and balance, that balance became The Bridge’s biggest problem. There are now a lot of interesting ideas in play for the second season, Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid need to make sure that each story stays relevant and isn’t overshadowed by the specter of a Big Bad that gets too big for its britches, like the David Tate storyline. Without the albatross of David Tate around The Bridge’s neck, it can go from a good show with spurts of true momentum and glimpses of greatness to a dark crime thriller taking on real world issues other fictional shows are afraid to tackle. I’m looking forward to it.