After a well-received debut last summer, FX’s critically acclaimed drama The Bridge is returning this week for a second season. Based on Scandinavian series Broen, which followed a series of murders along the border between Sweden and Denmark, The Bridge moved the action to the US/Mexico border, which also allowed them to explore modern-day issues that plague both countries.
While the first season closely mirrored the events of the original series, the writing team is breaking away from that model for Season Two, continuing to explore the relationship between Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) as they deal with the fallout from the events of the first season.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to visit the set of The Bridge along with a handful of other online journalists, observing production of Episode 10 and participating in roundtable interviews with the cast. While most of the information I learned from that visit will remain under embargo until later in the season, I wanted to bring you a few highlights from our sessions with Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir, as they hint at things to come in Season Two.
What are some of the biggest changes in tone from Season One to Season Two?
It’s a gritter show, in the sense that in the first year, as you know, we followed the Scandinavian model, and it was a sort of serial killer pursuit. This year, there’s lots of killers and lots of murders, and the story is more complex… Sonya’s personal life is a big part of this season, and it’s a very dark time for her.
Was there anything you’ve been able to add to Sonya this season that you weren’t able to in Season One?
Oh, so much. I think we really had to introduce her in Season One, but this season we already know who she is, we know all the people in her life, we know about her sister. So now, I can open up the box and I don’t have to explain everything, and I think the writers also don’t feel they have to make it clear in every episode “this is Sonya, she has Asperger’s, she’s a good cop.” There’s a liberty to it, and I think the focus of this season is to really show her and her private life, and deepen her relationships with Marco and with [Hank].
How do you feel about the decision by the writers to never explicitly state that Sonya has Asperger’s?
I think it’s a very strong choice, because people who have a condition don’t necessarily go around saying “Hi, I’m Sonya, I have Asperger’s.” And we didn’t want that condition to become the focus. I think there are lots of people in the world who don’t necessarily fit into what we think is socially acceptable, and so I think it’s interesting when people finally realize “oh, okay, she has this condition, but she’s a great cop.”
It’s also given me an opportunity to raise awareness for Asperger’s and autism, and I think it’s great to see a character be the lead of a show and still be a very complex character, because usually you see them as supporting characters and they’re comic relief. So this is just a really well-rounded character, who just happens to have Asperger’s.
Can you talk about some of the changes in tone that we’ll see in Season Two?
I think it is more… maybe sinister is the word? It’s darker, and I think it goes deeper into the emotional and psychological aspects of the characters. Especialmente Marco, I think, because after losing everything he had, including the death of his son, it’s really hard to recover from that.
Marco has always struck me as having some pent-up aggression. Will it be more difficult for him to keep his anger in check this season?
One of the things we established in Season One is that Marco’s a good cop, but he’s no angel. He knows where he is working, and he knows this is a very difficult environment to try and do the right thing. He’s really, really bad with anyone who’s not right, who’s an obstacle for Marco to do the right thing… It’s only a natural reaction, I guess, when things don’t work the way justice is supposed to make things work.
Can you comment on the evolution of your character’s relationship with Sonya?
I think one of the great things about these two characters is that they pretty much work the same way the US and Mexico work. It’s very clear how the analogy is established, and how different we are, and how much we need each other, and how much it’s important that we stop pointing fingers at each other and blaming one another, and just work together and try to solve the issues and problems that we share. I think we will see how much we respect each other, and I think you could even say that we care for each other.
Recently the show won a Peabody Award for it’s portrayal of issues on both sides of the border. What do you think sets The Bridge apart from other shows?
I think we’ve been brace enough to be straightforward. We talk about many issues that Mexico and the US share, and as I said before, instead of making one country good and the other bad, we talk about the responsibility that we share in every issue. If you remember in Season One, whenever we talk about human trafficking or drug trafficking or weapons going back and forth, we talk about the problems on both sides of the border and how much everyone has their own responsibility. When we talk about violence, it’s about the two countries, not only one, and when we talk about corruption it’s also the same way. So I think that takes you away from stereotypes, because I don’t think any one place is better than the other.
Everyone keeps saying “Mexico is really dangerous,” right? Or “I wouldn’t go on vacation there.” I’ve heard that so many times. “I wouldn’t go on vacation, I don’t want to be kidnapped.” Are you kidding me? I always say that it’s called “organized crime” because it’s well organized, and they know where the money is, and if you are a tourist in most places in Mexico, you won’t be a target. Unless you’re in a crossfire, then tough luck, my friend. But that’s really difficult to happen.
Everyone keeps talking about the violence and how dangerous and this and that, and I always keep thinking, up until now no one in Mexico has entered a movie theater and killed people. Up until now, no one has entered an elementary school anywhere in Mexico and killed the kids, so I really don’t know which place is more dangerous. “I said goodbye to my kids this morning. Guess what, they’re not coming home.” That’s really difficult to happen in Mexico.
There’s a war going on between cartels, and organized crime, and the federal government. That is a reality. And of course, we have our own issues and problems, and that is exactly where I think The Bridge is brave and assertive and fearless, as FX calls themselves, because we haven’t been afraid of talking about every issue the way it is.
Season Two of The Bridge will premiere on Wednesday, July 9th, exclusively on FX.