The Bridge, the dark cross-border murder investigation TV series on FX pairing Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir as mismatched detectives, has been cancelled after two seasons. There’s still a slight chance some other network could pick up the series, but the reality is that there will almost certainly be no season three. The news comes as almost a given, after the show’s second season veered off course and ratings plummeted. It also serves as a lesson when it comes to TV show continuity, as The Bridge would likely still be on the air if not for one ill-fated decision by the writers in the first season.
And here comes the spoiler alert. Stop reading now if you plan to ever go back and watch The Bridge – and the first season is very much worth your time if you like your dramas dark and gritty with just a touch of humanity. Kruger’s character, a police detective in El Paso, had Asperger Syndrome and struggled to deal with basic social issues while being very by-the-book. Bichir’s character, the last honest Mexican cop in the corrupt city of Juarez unwilling to take a bribe, is an idealist with a world of personal problems. The two get paired together after a murder on the bridge connecting the two cities, and then spend season one tracking down the killer while encountering numerous weird characters along the way – including a shockingly good turn by Matthew Lillard in a supporting role.
But near the end of season one, Bichir’s son gets killed by the villain just as they’re capturing him. The son isn’t a major character, and in fact his death fits in with the dark and often hopeless tones of The Bridge. But after his death, Bichir transforms into an unrecognizably broken man who only cares about revenge – and from thereon in, the show is barely watchable. The season two premiere was so eye-rolling that I actually quit watching right then and there. As ratings turned downward sharply, I learned that I wasn’t the only one.
If The Bridge had simply allowed the son to live, it would have allowed Demian Bichir’s character to continue being his gritty idealistic and highly watchable self, he and Diane Kruger could have teamed up to solve another murder mystery in season two, and the show could have lasted a decade. Such moves, while typically lauded as “bold” at the time they’re made, often end up being series-killers.
But for those who enjoyed the show, there’s a silver lining. For Bichir, a Mexican actor, this was a breakout American role. He’s established himself as a star in the making, even at the age of fifty-one, and should turn up in more major roles in American productions going forward.