[This is a review of The Bridge season 2, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS]
During last week's premiere, The Bridge introduced several new characters to what was, at the time, a murky plot only vaguely connected to certain events of the previous season – that being, primarily, everything that happened in the two episodes following David Tate's apprehension. 'Yankee' was a delirious episode that began with a bloodbath and ended with Franka Potente hosing herself off in a garage with two teens on a late-night bike ride getting an unexpected crash course in human anatomy. And that doesn't even begin to cover the goings-on with Sonya, Marco, Daniel, and Adriana.
For everything that happened in 'Yankee', though, it was clear the implications would have to wait to be made relevant – at least to the degree that the framework of the various story threads might become visible enough so that the audience isn't scratching their heads when DEA Agent Joe Mackenzie (Abraham Benrubi) pops up, or the aforementioned Potente (known as Eleanor Necht) has an intern's ear cut off because he got a little clumsy with the tea. What's significant about 'Ghost of a Flea', then, is that it manages to pull those various threads together rather quickly - and while there are still plenty of questions bouncing around, the story's framework is at least visible.
Moreover, the episode doesn't just concern itself with making sure the little oddities of the premiere were afforded some necessary clarification; it also concerns itself with adding some color and personality to the newcomers, helping them stand out through something more than their actions. It's something as simple as telling the audience what the characters like to do in their free time, and demonstrating what it is that they're passionate about when it comes to their work. In Joe's case, he likes model figurines, and hopes to one day put Fausto Galván in an American prison, after convicting him in an American court. Little things like that – and his reaction to the recovery of Agent Tecca's body and the pooch who unfortunately wound up with the full taxidermy treatment – go a long way in transforming what would otherwise be a stock DEA figure into a character who is worth watching and becoming invested in.
On the flip side, there isn't much of a peek into Eleanor's personal life – though with lines referencing "the light that goes through everything" and the frighteningly calm manner in which she lures young Kyle (a.k.a. the bike-riding kid who listened to his hormones instead of his survival instinct) to his death, there are more than a few peeks into her clearly unbalanced psyche, which is about all we need at this point.
Overall, 'Ghost of a Flea' is about bringing things together in a manner that both sets up the plot and progresses it in a way that doesn't rely entirely on contrivance. Here, Sonya and Cooper (Johnny Dowers) manage to get an image of Eleanor from when she crossed over into the United States, linking back to the conversation she had with her hatchet man who clearly lacked any foresight whatsoever, since he wound up with his throat slashed while the car he despised so much turned circles in the desert. Putting Eleanor on the police's radar gathers the storylines and connects the El Paso P.D., the DEA, and Eleanor's accounting/killing spree in such a way that opens the door for Marco to be partnered up with Sonya again – this time at the behest of one Fausto Galván.
All of this just demonstrates how some clever characterization and consistent storytelling can help justify spending two-episodes to establish the structure of what is already shaping up to be a great season of The Bridge.
The Bridge continues next Wednesday with 'Sorrowsworn' @10pm on FX.
Photos: Byron Cohen/FX