'The Bridge' review: It holds up under pressure

Demian Bichir, left, as Marco Ruiz and Diane

Demian Bichir, left, as Marco Ruiz and Diane Kruger as Sonya Cross in FX's "The Bridge." (Credit: FX Network)

THE SERIES "The Bridge"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday night at 10 on FX.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT

There's a bridge that connects El Paso, Texas, with Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. One night, the lights go out on this busy thoroughfare. When they return, a body is discovered -- placed so that one half is in Mexico, the other half in the United States. El Paso homicide detective Sonya North (Diane Kruger) responds -- and so does her counterpart from the Chihuahua State Police, Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir).

They briefly squabble over jurisdiction until extenuating factors require that he join the investigation. Afflicted with Asperger syndrome, Sonya puzzles Marco -- but she does have laser focus, needed to investigate this and a string of disappearances of young women, mostly prostitutes, in Juarez. Meanwhile, the killer (or killers) expresses an interest in one Charlotte Millright (Annabeth Gish). Recently widowed, Millright is the new proprietor of a vast ranch.

My say For a quick if superficial orientation, think of "The Bridge" (based on the Danish series "Bron/Broen") as "The Killing," now in its third season and also deep in a serial killer narrative. There certainly are big differences, most notably the atmosphere -- in Seattle, it's soaked with remorseless rain, while here, the dry Texas air is so still you can almost hear it crackle and pop. The bridge, as it turns out, is also a metaphor for the gulf that separates whole countries and individuals alike, and, in that regard, this smart, engaging new series wants to go places few others dare go -- most notably, deep into our neighbor to the south.

"The Bridge" embraces this divide so fully that it becomes at times two series -- a bilingual one -- as intent on understanding Ruiz's world as it is on understanding that tightly enclosed space that comprises Sonya North's. Yet, the mystery story still tracks relentlessly forward, abetted by a miscreant reporter -- a terrific performance by veteran actor Matthew Lillard -- and a kindly lieutenant of homicide -- another excellent performance, this one by Ted Levine ("Monk").

BOTTOM LINE The three episodes provided for review turned out to be a gift. "The Bridge" is highly absorbing.

GRADE B+

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