[This is a review of The Bridge season 2, episode 12. There will be SPOILERS.] 

Early in the penultimate episode of The Bridge season 2, an injured Hank Wade finds himself getting “soft” (as he apparently does for a couple of days) after being shot. That softness makes the lawman somewhat contemplative about the existential nature of things, like life and, apparently, the efficacy of law enforcement on the El Paso-Juárez border… and, to a certain extent, the U.S. government’s role in the vast disparity seen between the living conditions of both sides’ residents.

Hank asks Sonya whether or not she’s ever spit in the ocean before turning the seemingly inconsequential question (and act depicted therein) into the rather pointed insight that sums up the complicated and seemingly hopeless situation regarding the war between the DEA and the CIA, as well as the war on drugs itself. “It is vast, and we are not,” he says.

And yet he and Sonya press on, both in their pursuit of Eleanor and in their efforts to help Marco, who is held captive in the mountains of Mexico along with Sebastian Cerisola’s daughter. Meanwhile, Fausto and his right hand man attempt to escape the grasp of the Marine’s hell bent on killing them.

All of this points to just how impossibly complex things have become as a result of the CIA’s influence in the Mexican side of the drug war, affording the likes of Galvan and Eleanor carte blanche within a limited area, until both eventually outlived their usefulness. That complexity is then made worse, as it becomes apparent the efforts of the El Paso P.D., Marco, and even the Marines, to detain or neutralize those criminals, will barely scratch the surface of the larger problem.

Matthew Lillard and Ted Levine in The Bridge season 2 episode 12 The Bridge: No Such Thing as Safe Passage

Both the single-mindedness of Sonya and Hank and the hopelessness of the state of affairs are reflected in Steven Linder’s dogged yet ultimately unsuccessful quest for revenge on Captain Robles for the horrors Eva suffered at his hands. The sad ineffectualness of Linder’s pursuit is worsened by the fact he could have taken Eva up on her offer to run away and try to begin a life together. It is also underlined by the fact that Robles has recently learned he will be charged with, among other crimes, the rape of Eva, meaning even though the wheels of justice appear to be immobile, they are, to some small degree, still trying to turn.

All of this makes Linder a far more tragic character than he would have seemed at the beginning of the series. Although it’s uncertain whether or not he will succumb to Robles’ gunshot (although it seems likely he will), the image of Steven lying on the ground in that alleyway, as Robles and the man who has stepped in to replace Galvan passively look on, punctuates the dark reality of the narrative as decisively as Hank’s comment did.

All of this leaves the finale with some cleaning up to do in regard to Galvan, Eleanor, and Agent Buckley. It also means that next week’s episode will hopefully point to some kind of outcome regarding Frye and Adriana’s reporting, without which a great deal of this situation would never have been brought to light.

These last few episodes of The Bridge have been exemplary in their ability to string together the various storylines and continually reveal the depth and magnitude of the situation these characters find themselves in. It seems counterintuitive to think that a series, which tragically – especially in the wake of the news that Tyrant would be getting a second season – may not continue to season 3, would develop such a strong narrative thread that renders characters aware not only the unfathomable enormity of their situation, but also the ostensible futility of their role in it – or that it could deliver such a high level of compelling entertainment in the process. And yet here we are.

The Bridge will conclude season 2 next Wednesday with ‘Jubilex’ @10pm ET on FX.

Photos: Byron Cohen/FX

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