The secondary duos were made up of reporters Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) and Adriana Mendez (Emily Rios), who stumble upon something bigger while investigating the serial killings; and widow Charlotte Millwright (Annabeth Gish) and her lover, Ray (Brian Van Holt), who fall in with a Mexican drug cartel after discovering a tunnel under Charlotte's house. There was also Sonya's boss and mentor, Lieutenant Hank Wade (Ted Levine), and (unfortunately for nuance) a whole lot of corrupt Chihuahua cops.
The season two premiere, "Yankee," has Sonya and Marco back at work on their sides of the border, ready to fend off new threats. Daniel and Adriana are still working on last season's tip to "follow the money" and are investigating corruption at the immigration office. We don't see Charlotte or Ray, but we do meet Eleanor Nacht (Franka Potente), a seemingly uptight bookkeeper for their partners in drug-running, as well as Eleanor's not-long-for-this-world partner, Yovani.
Initially, the episode seems par for the course. The dichotomies established by the odd-couple pairings are still front and center: method versus madness (Sonya and Marco), excess versus restraint (Daniel and Adriana), and law versus disorder (Hank and those Chihuahua cops). This system of counterparts mirrored the producing team behind the scenes—Reid's energetic but scattershot approach (seen in his Hawaii Five-0 remake) was centered by TV veteran Stiehm, who's spent over 20 years as a writer-producer.
With Stiehm's help, The Bridge won a Peabody Award last year for its unique portrayals of women on television. Left to his own devices, Reid has brought sex to the forefront: last season's glimpse at Sonya's sex life, which illustrated her simultaneous desire for and inability to connect with other people, is now sex in the living room; Adriana's girlfriend, who was only hinted at before, gets hit on by Daniel over lunch; and by episode's end the evil that lurked beneath Eleanor's dowdy exterior and her heavily tattooed body are stripped bare at a truck stop.
I'm sure that having a 9 PM time slot on basic cable provided a great temptation to push the envelope, but with this premiere Reid seems to be throwing a tantrum like a teenager who's glad that mom's finally gone—now he can totally run the show the way that he wants. When the show lost Stiehm, it lost its counterpoint—its Sonya, Adriana, or Hank—and maybe its way.
The Bridge, FX, Wednesdays at 9 PM