Lessons From…The Bridge

I re-watched the FX series The Bridge this weekend. It is an intriguing and amazing drama that did not manage to obtain the audience it deserved. I might be a bit biased, admittedly, since it is uncommon to see television programming dealing with Mexican/Mexican-American issues and stories especially with those characters taking an active role in the narrative. Even so, it is a program worth watching and like with all media I consume, I found an aspect of it worthy of further analysis. As always SPOILERS ahead.

Mmm...I get so much satisfaction out of this image.

Mmm…I get so much satisfaction out of this image.

The primary story, of at least the first season, revolves around a series of murders happening along the US-Mexican border between the Texas city of El Paso and the town of Juarez in Mexico. There are at least two major “B” story lines that transpires alongside this one, but those particular tangents do not begin to truly develop until near the end of the first season and take more precedence in the second season. The first body found is actually two bodies comprised of a prominent Texas judge and a female Juarez resident. This combination of bodies and unclear identity of the murder requires officers on both sides of the bridge to work together (hence the name). Thus begins the partnership between Officer Sonya Cruz (Diane Kruger) and Detective Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir).

Two good looking people doing regular people stuff...

Two good looking people doing regular people stuff…

During the course of their joint investigation, Cruz and Ruiz discover that the various murders and crimes they are investigating are not random but actually a calculated mission by an intelligent and sociopathic individual. Furthermore, this man has a specific connection to Detective Ruiz and his family. In short, he wants Ruiz to suffer and will stop at nothing to ensure that Ruiz does. Of course, this vendetta does not simply materialize for no reason. In many ways, Detective Ruiz is very responsible for the pain and suffering he goes through during the first season of The Bridge.

Which actually brings us to the take away lesson from this series: Our choices and actions have repercussions. Sometimes those consequences affect others beyond ourselves. The entire crime arc is really the revenge of a man for the death of his wife and son. They were killed by a drugged out driver crossing the bridge between El Paso and Juarez. The widower takes revenge on those he deems responsible for the deaths of his family. So how does Detective Ruiz play into this crime? He was having an affair with the woman and was partially responsible for her being on the bridge on that night.

While Ruiz cannot be held fully accountable for the accident, he admits to just using the woman for sex without any consideration for her desires, needs, or the effects their affair could have on her or her family. Ruiz acts solely out of self interest and his actions come to have dire consequences for him and his family, perhaps irreconcilable results. He, however, is not the only one to make such decisions. Other prominent characters also act rashly and without forethought with unforeseen and undesirable results. I will not go into too much detail since I would rather you see the show for yourself, but suffice to say that no one on the program manages to progress unscathed throughout the show.

The true highlight of the series is not the consequences of characters’ choices but how each character adapts to the results of their actions and how they continue to make similar, and in certain situations more dire, choices that will inevitably result in worse conditions than those they began with. It is a perfectly built microcosm of human nature and desire similar to another great FX series Fargo.  Like it, The Bridge demonstrates the ripple effects that actions have and how very quickly plans and people can turn. I highly recommend both shows.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

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