Season finale review: 'The Bridge' - 'Jubilex': From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks
"The Bridge" has wrapped up its second — and quite possibly final — season. I had some questions for Elwood Reid, and I have a few thoughts on the finale coming up just as soon as I offer you a caramel corn...
"You did it. Now what?" -Fausto
When I interviewed Reid a few weeks ago, he said that his initial impulse was to do an ending to the season that was "strange, poetic" and open-ended. FX execs, aware of what the ratings were — and perhaps even then recognizing the likelihood of cancellation — talked him into the compromise version we see in "Jubilex," which provides closure on most of this season's stories without actually resolving anything.
Marco gets the drop on Fausto and Obregon and takes them into custody, but it's clear from the prosecutor's visit to the police station that the disposition of this case will be incredibly complicated, while Robles is a fugitive. The CIA sets up Alex Buckley as the fall guy for the whole smuggling operation, then murder him before he can speak in his own defense, but Frye and Adriana are committed to chasing the story wherever it leads. Sonya catches Eleanor — but in the process illegally uses a gun on Mexican soil to kill Eleanor's father, putting her own career in jeopardy in the process.
If "Jubilex" is really the end of the series (and I'm bracing myself for that to be the case), the only characters whose stories seem to end on a definitive and relatively upbeat note are Linder — who seemed like a goner for sure last week(*) — and Eva, who get to walk (or limp, in Linder's case, since he's somehow able to make it all the way from the hospital to the border crossing in his condition) away together.
(*) At first, I rolled my eyes at Hank's discover of Linder in the back of the trailer. But then I realized what a hassle it would be for the local authorities — many of them, like Robles, in bed with the cartel — if an American was found shot to death on Mexican soil, and that it would be simpler to dump the body somewhere in the desert outside El Paso. Plus, Linder is such a great character — albeit one with no real function in the story the show is telling at this point — that I'd rather he not be dead, whether or not the series is continuing.
I like the ambiguity that permeates so much of Reid's finale script, and John Dahl shoots the hell out of all those scenes in the desert, but especially the climax at the oak tree where Eleanor and her rabid dog of a father have it out once and for all. Eleanor has been such a compelling character, and the bits of her origin that we've learned gave that oak tree and the monstrous things that happened there an almost mythic quality, and the climax lived up to that — even if Eleanor should have tried securing her father's leash to the tree itself, especially given that his nails had grown long enough to function as weapons themselves.
And once Sonya arrives on the scene, we get a strong and satisfying emotional payoff to her conflict with Hank, as she declines to do to Eleanor what Hank did to Jim Dobbs. She has a more rigid moral code than Hank or Marco, and she also knows what it's like to be the loved one of a murder victim seeking answers — even if I can't imagine Kyle's parents and brother getting any peace from learning more about this damaged woman who murdered him — and so she puts the gun down, even knowing the professional consequences she could face. We don't know what will happen next for Sonya, or Eleanor — and we may never know, given the show's precarious status, but we got these two strange people on the screen together one more time, and we got Sonya and Hank helping each other out one more time, and then we got the gorgeous final shot ascending way up above the oak tree to show the larger border area and remind us how this one case is just a tiny part of a larger problem.
As Reid put it in that previous interview, "I think the show is much bigger than this." Season 2 already felt much bigger than season 1, and I would love to see an even broader canvas for a hypothetical, if unlikely, third season.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org