Over time, I’ve found myself enjoying audiobooks or podcast series more, especially when everyone was at home during the pandemic. Sometimes, due to my anxiety, I don’t have the energy to read, but my brain likes to listen to something, especially if I need to redirect my anxiety. As a result, I’ve discovered a few podcast series that have been fun to listen to. One of these was Bridgewater, a supernatural podcast series from Grim & Mild starring Supernatural‘s Misha Collins. Fans of pop culture should recognize quite a few of the names featured in season one.
Collins is joined by such names as Melissa Ponzio, Nathan Fillion, Wil Wheaton, Hilarie Burton Morgan, and Kristin Bauer van Straten. Fillion is replaced by Alan Tudyk in season two and Tricia Helfer comes in as a new character. Yes, these casting choices of people from geek favorite shows were intentional. Creator Aaron Mahnke, the brain behind Lore, intentionally selected actors that would be recognizable to fans of the genre. Mahnke has more of a background in supernatural history and was joined by fiction writer Lauren Shippen to mesh their areas of expertise into one project.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for both seasons of Bridgewater.
So what is Bridgewater about? Bridgewater is set in a section of eastern Massachusetts known as the Bridgewater Triangle. It’s a 200-square-mile area nicknamed by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman in 1983. The Bridgewater Triangle has been the source of numerous paranormal experiences. Hauntings, UFO sightings, cult activity, glowing balls of lights, and strange creature sightings (including Big Foot) are featured in claims about what happens there. Honestly, the whole area sounds like a missed opportunity to be the setting of an X-Files episode, and I can’t help but feel like they should just reboot the series with some sort of satellite office in the Bridgewater Triangle. If you are curious about the stories people have told about their experiences in the Bridgewater Triangle, you can check out additional information from CBS Boston and Boston.com.
The plotline of the series revolves around folklore professor Jeremy Bradshaw (Misha Collins), whose police detective father, Thomas Bradshaw (Nathan Fillion season one and Alan Tudyk season two), disappeared in the Bridgewater Triangle four decades ago. Jeremy focuses on the idea of mystical stories and local folklore being ways that people deal with more real and grounded events. It’s easier for him to believe his father was a victim of a very human local satanic cult than anything supernatural. Of course, that reality comes crashing down to the ground when some local hikers discover his father’s old badge within the borders of the Bridgewater Triangle. The badge shows no signs of being decades old, and it becomes obvious that something very strange is going on.
Despite his initial resistance to being pulled in, what happened to Thomas Bradshaw becomes too strong of a pull, especially as Jeremy’s TA Vippin Khurana (Karan Soni) keeps poking into online chatter about what exactly people are starting to say. People start going missing, and the head of the local police department, Captain Haddock (Wil Wheaton), blows everything off. On the other hand, Thomas’s retired partner, Anne Becker (Melissa Ponzio), is willing to approach a more supernatural explanation. There were things she witnessed over the years that can’t just be explained away as easily as Haddock and others would like. Of course, Anne has been effectively turned into the laughingstock of the department over her beliefs. Things get weirder when a voice on her answering machine sounds suspiciously like Thomas.
You definitely should get an X-Files and Supernatural feel off the series, and Mahnke describes the project as being a “love letter” to these shows. I don’t know if I ever imagined Castiel playing the dead serious skeptic a la Dana Scully of the X-Files, but Collins absolutely nails the role. It is clear that Thomas Bradshaw’s death has had a life-altering impact on Jeremy to the point where his career seems shaped around the idea of rationally explaining what happened to his father. Jeremy is effectively what would happen if Fox Mulder kept insisting his sister was murdered by a satanic cult while others keep trying to use the weird happenings of the local area to explain it. He really does not want it to be a paranormal explanation and is more like a Dana Scully who intentionally aimed his career at trying to debunk anything paranormal.
The Mulder role is filled more by Anne Bradshaw whose been given the “spooky Mulder” treatment for her career ever since Thomas disappeared and she refused to chalk it up to a satanic cult. The way these two play off of each other is done really well. They’re not set up to be a romantic couple like Mulder and Scully were. Instead, they’re both connected by Thomas, and their beliefs concerning just what went down are very different. It’s complicated, though, as Anne Becker is someone that Jeremy’s mother despises, and as they go digging into the past together, Jeremy uncovers several difficult truths, including troubles in his family and a paranormal encounter of his own that he clearly trauma-buried.
Collins and Ponzio are backed up by some additional great cast. Wil Wheaton really shines as Captain Haddock with his “nobody wants your craziness here, stay out of my department’s business” attitude. Kristin Bauer van Straten is delightful as Celeste, the leader of the spiritual group that locals accuse of being a satanic cult. Watching Jeremy struggle to decide if she’s just completely nuts but mostly harmless, actually onto something, or running something more sinister really does create some amazing scenes.
TA Vipin is also a delightful foil to Collin’s Jeremy. Vipin is far more eager at looking into claims and approaches things far less skeptically than Jeremy does. His obvious crush on Olivia Hoskins, who is just as ready to jump into what’s going on, is absolutely adorable. Vipin’s great at softening the edges of the oh-so-serious Jeremy. Fillion is absolutely perfect at playing Thomas in the flashbacks and supernatural occurrences.
Season one ends on an amazing cliffhanger as Jeremy and Anne close in on just what happened to Thomas Bradshaw, and the result of their investigation is the perfect setup for the second season. The setting and premise are so ripe for storytelling that I hope we have many more seasons to come, and I’m excited to see who else they pull into the cast. This was my first exposure to Grim & Mild’s podcasts and, honestly, I really hope they continue not just with Bridgewater. I’d love to see what other fiction-based productions they might create. I always find myself looking forward to when new episodes drop on Fridays so I can discover what new twists are about to drop. Bridgewater can be listened to via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and iHeartRadio. Here are the relevant links.