[This is a review of The Bridge season 2, episode 13. There will be SPOILERS.]
Whether this turns out to be the final episode of The Bridge or not is a concern that should probably come after a discussion of the actual finale. Therefore, as an episode, ‘Jubilex’ is worthy of high praise for the way it wrangled so many individual story threads and still delivered one of the most comprehensive and satisfying season finales in recent memory. It’s the kind of conclusion that makes it almost impossible not to think about the myriad stories that await Sonya, Marco, Frye and Adriana, and even the eternally grizzled Lt. Hank Wade.
Okay, so it’s hard to discuss the merits of ‘Jubilex’ without contemplating the future of the series. But that’s what happens when a show overcomes the obstacles created by certain elements of its first season to become a ridiculously solid and entertaining affair – and yet audiences somehow don’t turn up in droves. And so, the luster of what has been a consistent bright spot in the otherwise fickle (and now completed) 2014 summer television season is perhaps unfairly dimmed by questions of the show’s prospects for renewal.
But that shouldn’t diminish the stellar quality of series of these past 13 episodes. Basically, the entirety of season 2 should be commended for its handling of two things: the resolution of the lingering storylines from season 1 (i.e., Jim Dobbs and David Tate), and for doing so in a way that did not distract from the series’ shift in focus.
In that sense (and due largely to the show now being under the sole direction of showrunner Elwood Reid), The Bridge became a much larger series, one that felt like it took bigger risks and was more directly invested in the immediate concerns of its setting.
What was planted in the shadow of a gruesome, silly, and ultimately familiar serial killer/revenge plot, grew into a multifaceted narrative concerned with the machinations of a hierarchical system that had become so massive and convoluted it not only lost sight of its original goals, but it also lost control of those charged with carrying out its directives. The result, then, allowed The Bridge to become a pulpy masterpiece, combining hardboiled crime fiction with hot-button issues, and it balanced the whole thing out with great moments of humor and pathos.
That’s no easy feat, considering the season began with Franka Potente’s killer Mennonite Eleanor cutting a swath through the South Texas banking, real estate, and suburban teenager population in an intriguing but ominously diffuse string of episodes. Any concerns about the rambling nature of the season soon went out the window, however, when the narrative gradually pooled around the reign of drug kingpin Fausto Galvan and the CIA agent who more or less installed him at the head of the cartel.
Amidst all of the cartel revenge killings, the unsanctioned war between the DEA’s Agent Mackenzie and Agent Buckley of the CIA, and the fallout in Sonya and Marco’s personal lives (both of which were massively streamlined this season), The Bridge slowly began to peel away the layers of its own story. This revealed how much of the narrative was actually centered on the issue of a broken, convoluted, and largely corrupt system that allows people like Captain Robles, Fausto Galvan, and Sebastian Cerisola to flourish, while Steve Linder and Eva ostensibly fall through the cracks.
As solemn as that sounds, ‘Jubilex’ actually winds up being a largely positive affair. The episode is primarily concerned with giving its characters purpose in a way that’s meaningful on a professional and individual level. That accounts for Hank’s on-the-job discovery of Linder and Linder’s subsequent reunion with Eva. But Linder, more so than Eva, was a special case; so much so that it feels like Steven won the character lottery.
The peculiarity of Linder’s speech, appearance, and personality certainly made The Bridge more colorful, but as the story went on – even as his and Eva’s threads began to commingle to the degree they did here – his presence became tangential at best. His near fatal encounter with Robles suggested a far more pessimistic view of the world, one that was certainly in keeping with the tone and theme of the show, so seeing him granted a happy ending felt like an unexpected but welcome surprise.
In a way, then, the rest of ‘Jubilex’ follows suit with regard to the episode’s tone working counter to what was expected. The outcome of Marco and Sonya’s pursuit of Fausto and Eleanor work out to the advantage of those seeking justice. And despite knowing their apprehension, the dismissal of Robles and Agent Buckley’s death were mere stopgaps in a much larger problem, the episode still comes away feeling like a massive win.
Ultimately, season 2 will count as a complete story filled with rich, interesting characters that successfully examined one of, if not the most fascinating and diverse setting on television today. To its great credit, the ending closes out a handful of pressing, character-driven stories, leaving the larger, incomprehensibly complicated and problematic war on drugs as its constant, offering a continuous stream of potential storylines centered on the futile efforts of a system whose efficacy is in question and may have always been.
And if the extra long shot, pulling back to reveal the proximity of El Paso and Juårez (further underlining the immense disparity between the two), proves to be the last glimpse we get of this world, then at least The Bridge went out on a (literally) high note.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on the future of The Bridge as information is made available.
Photos: Byron Cohen/FX