In honor of Breaking Bad airing their final episodes beginning this Sunday and my love for the freshman show, The Bridge, we’re kicking off a new weekly segment that poses the question, “Would you rather?” It is spoilerific and draws on events, characters, and experiences found in two shows-movies-comics-whatever-medium-we-choose-to-compare, so if you’re not caught up on the two presented this week, you might want to come back when you are! …Ready? Okay, awesome, this week we’re trying to decide would you rather work for El Paso law enforcement in the Breaking Bad universe or in the universe of The Bridge?
Assuming you want to work in El Paso at all, let’s look at the experiences of Hank Schrader, of Breaking Bad, who was briefly promoted within the DEA and sent to El Paso, Texas from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Can you speak Spanish? Hank couldn’t, making it extremely difficult for him to “fit in” with his new coworkers and to do his job thoroughly. He was unaccustomed to the social norms and couldn’t communicate with the informant that the DEA was working with because of his lack of Spanish speaking skills.
That informant was helping them to take down the Mexican drug cartel, meaning you’d be dealing with a lot of dangerous people in El Paso and across the border. But probably not that specific informant, as he was beheaded. The DEA found his head, attached to the back of a tortoise shell, and when disturbed, it exploded – injuring what would be many of your coworkers. If you didn’t like your coworkers, that’s great! Most of them just blew up courtesy of the cartel. Some of them did survive, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be back to work any time soon and you know what that means. Promotions!
Those guys were kind of dicks anyway, weren’t they? Maybe you’d rather work with serious coworkers who play by the rules. Sonya Cross, of The Bridge, hasn’t reached federal employment, being a lowly Detective in the El Paso Police Department, but she takes her job very seriously. So seriously that she reported a detective with the Chihuahua State Police for allowing an ambulance through a crime scene when the person inside was having a heart attack with no other way across the Mexican border back into America. Don’t even think of stepping out of line in her presence or it’s more than possible you’ll get written up too.
While she’s got illegal immigrants crossing the border and the Mexican cartel to contend with, her biggest problem is a serial killer who is creating a jurisdictional nightmare. By killing two people and leaving the Frankensteined body on the border, with half of each body on either side, it becomes a Mexican-American problem. Does that sound like too much for you to handle? The FBI is more than happy to step in and steal your thunder – just be ready for them to fail miserably and put you even deeper down the rabbit hole. At least for Hank, it’s just the cartel wanting to kill you. For Sonya, it’s a serial killer toying with you and those around you.
There is the obvious boys’ club feel to Breaking Bad’s El Paso DEA office, where you might get ostracized for any number of things, but then there’s the already-ostracized and overly professional feel of The Bridge’s police department, as felt by Sonya. Picking either one presents unique challenges, with similarities and differences, but if you had to pick one, tell us if you would rather work for El Paso law enforcement in the Breaking Bad universe or in the universe of The Bridge (and tell us why in the comments!)?