One of the advantages that television has over the movies is it’s ability to encompass time in a more real and everyday fashion than can be
achieved in the movies. A story can revealed in a depth and complexity when it can be shown in an episodic manner. “The Bridge” currently running every week on Fx is one such example. To introduce the characters and introduce the scene time can be taken to reveal the complexities.
First off, “The Bridge” is set in the twin border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. an area that is unknown to many Americans. Two vastly different cultures that have been blending for hundreds of years now, yet are destined never to be homogenized, never to become one, but are doomed, or blessed to live apart but always together.
Surprisingly few people in the United States know that Mexico is one of the most important countries in the world to America, and as for Mexico, the saying goes: “When the United States catches a cold, Mexico dies of pneumonia”. El Paso and Juarez are functionally two parts in a machine; A machine of commerce, and a machine of death.
Globalism, political corruption, and a multi-billion dollar drug prohibition business are built with the blood of the Mexicans, to the tune of thousands murdered in Juarez every year, with 10’s of thousands of casualties, both physical and psychological. And from years of drug profits the criminal cartels of Mexico have taken over the former cottage industry of immigrant smuggling. It has become a very dangerous endeavor lately. And hugely profitable. Prices have gone way up in the coyote business.
In El Paso drug murders can be counted often on one hand, maybe two hands at most. Yet the United States market is what drives the narcotic business, and the lions share of profit is given over to the financiers and white shoe mobsters, that move in the highest circles. In Juarez, a stones throw away across a muddy stream still named the Rio Bravo, thousands will die within a year. And thousands will “disappear” as well.
Two countries so different, but so connected. Joined at the hip and the shoulder and the gun. Also joined by people, the immigrants and their relations, the ethnic Mexicans now residents or citizens of the U.S.A. And all the people of “La Frontera” The Border, of what ever descent or color they may be.
There is a lot of back story, that really can’t be told directly, but has to seep in. As the series moves along, it can build up speed.
In the Border War World of El Paso and Juarez, not much is how it seems. There are plots and counter plots, traitors, snitches, informers; people that have chosen the violent world they inhabit, for money or power, or others that have arrived somehow at the wrong side of fate; puppets of a culture and power structure that is always seeking for new victims. Many times from inside its own organization.
“The Bridge” makes for some strange connections. But the plots, subplots, counter plots etc, along the border are part and parcel of the reality of the situation. The Mexican policeman working with the very pretty, but Asperger Syndrome afflicted El Paso lady detective. The Juarez narcos and their inevitable American Legal and financial connections make for riveting stories. Some of these stories have not made it to the real world yet, but if the past is in any way a precursor, then they are on their way. The warlords of the Middle East and Africa have nothing on the orgy of crime and brutality that is done Mexican style just to our south. “The Bridge” connects two cultures and three traditions. The third one is the ever changing and mutating blend of Mexican and American . What sort of beast will this grow up to be? Quien Sabe?
For a sneak preview watch “The Bridge” on Fx. starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir