The first season of the Asian version of “The Bridge” was a very rewarding title that adapted the original quite well in an oriental setting. The second season, however, is on a whole other level, both as a production, as it adds an Indonesian axis to the Malaysian and Singaporean ones, and as a story, which is much more complex and intriguing.
“The Bridge Season 2” is available on Vue and HBO Asia
The story begins one year after the events of the first season and the rather dramatic ending to “The Truth Terrorist”-case. When a yacht registered in Singapore drifts ashore in Johor, the police are notified that inside lie the members of a family, all of which are murdered in ritualistic fashion, including the children. Serena’s division begins to handle the case but soon Indonesian authorities also get involved, with the presence of Salim, who is on a higher rank than the Singaporean detective, creating a number of problems, particularly as it is gradually revealed that he has a personal interest in the case. This, however, is not the only source of frustration for Serena, as she finds out that a traumatized Megat has switched sides, and is currently working for a known kingpin, Ishak, while Christian, her boyfriend, wants to take their relationship to the next level.
On a second axis, the story also focuses on Ishak’s “group”, which includes his constantly blundering son, his sick wife, his two main henchmen, Silver and Arif, a girl the family has adopted, Dian, eventually Megat, and the efforts Ishak takes to build a recycling plant that would allow him to appear more legit while he continues his illegal business. As the story progresses, more and more secrets come to the fore, while the “good guys”, including Commander Lim, find themselves with even more problems than they could ever anticipate, including the shadow involvement of the omnipresent Red Harvest organization.
The first thing one would notice is that the character analysis is much deeper this time, as it pins the three main protagonists against a number of situations they would prefer to avoid. Rebecca has to deal with taking orders from a man she despises and considers useless, her only friend ever becoming the enemy, and a relationship that matures much quicker than she does in that regard, and in essence clashes with her “job always comes first”-mentality. The deeply traumatized Megat has to face the fact that his wife has abandoned him, but most of all having to convince Ishak and his group that he is one of their own, in a series of events that, inevitably, brings him to a direct clash with Serena, as a number of secrets are revealed about his change as the story progresses. Salim has to face trying to cooperate with a number of people who consider him useless, most of all Serena, while his personal involvement in the case and his complicated relationship with his boss make things even more difficult for him. The interactions of the three are one of the greatest traits of the narrative, particularly because they involve more clash than cooperation, at least for the majority of the season. At the same time, Ishak provides a great villain, who may be ruthless and as cunning as they come, but also has to face family issues, his past, and a number of other obstacles to his grandiose plans. Furthermore, the overall attention to the secondary characters and the way the story allows them to become key players works excellently for the series, adding depth and a number of plot twists that retain interest from beginning to end.
All the aforementioned owe much to the great casting and the performances of the actors. Rebecca Lim as Serena highlights her intense reclusive nature excellently, but the scenes when her vulnerability gets the better of her are the ones she truly shines, as much as the ones where she erupts. Bront Palarae as Megat is impressive in a role that has him changing his character almost constantly, while his acting in English has obviously gone to the next level. The scene where he is being interrogated by Serena is a testament to the fact, in one of the most intense sequences in the series that highlights both the prowess and the chemistry of the two actors. Ario Bayu is also very convincing as a man who tries to do good to those around him but constantly fails, while his presence also works excellently as a catalyst for the behaviour of the other two protagonists. Wan Hanafi Su is great as Ishak, a rather multi-levelled characters who have to face problems from everywhere around him, despite his intense efforts to take care of those he loves, even by harming those he considers his enemies.
The intense drama that started during the finale of the first season continues in the same and even higher level here, with the many plot twists adding more to that concept as much as the fact that a number of the protagonists end up dead. Through this setting, the series also presents a number of comments regarding the concept of organized crime and its ties with authorities and politicians, corruption, friendship, and most of all, the concept of choosing between duty and personal feelings. The fact that this last aspect involves people close to the protagonists getting hurt and harmed in both cases, adds an additional level, making the whole narrative even more intricate.
As the series progresses, the mystery gives its place to the action more and more, although the twists never actually stop. The combination of action, mystery, and crime thriller is particularly well presented and should be attributed to the directorial abilities of TJ Lee, Jason Chong and Zahir Omar. Some action scenes could do with a bit better set-up, but considering this is a TV production and not a blockbuster action movie, it fares quite well.
“The Bridge ” offers a great combination of writing, directing and acting, in a season that manages to expand all the traits of the first one and in the process to become one of the best TV series of the latest years.