The police zero in on a suspect, Steven Linder (Thomas M. Wright) in the third episode of The Bridge, but it’s Marco (Demián Bichir) that has tongues wagging.
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Rio’ feels like a slow burn kind of episode. Several important things happen and I found the episode was over before I knew it…and yet it didn’t seem particularly memorable. It could be because we’re not barreling through a ton of plot as ‘Rio’ seems more interesting in ensuring we know more about these characters rather than unearthing clues and unraveling new mysteries.
Chief among those getting the preferential treatment this week is Annabeth Gish’s Charlotte. The recently widowed character gets a great deal more screentime as we learn not only about the fall-out of her husband’s shady deals, but also her tenuous position in El Paso’s society circles. Basically we get confirmation of the (fairly obvious) fact that Charlotte screwed her way into society. So we know it and it turns out that everyone else does, too. Her tension-filled relationship with her stepdaughter, as well as an awkward class diss by the local art society bitches helps to make Charlotte more sympathetic – at least initially.
Then she puts the moves on a married man. Well, consider a lot of that goodwill undone.
Look, I’m not here to make moral judgments on fictional characters (I’ve already lived through an adultery debate on the Continuum message boards and that sh*t is exhausting!)The Bridge is an adult drama and its characters are refreshingly human and therefore able to make mistakes and be presented in unsympathetic light. Let’s not forget that one of our first images of Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison is her hasty clean-up from a one-night stand and she’s more or less been having an affair with a married man from two seasons (That performance earned an Emmy and a Golden Globe).
At the end of the day, the judgment of Charlotte and Marco’s affair is entirely on the audience (so far at least). Interestingly this characterization is entirely in line with what we know of Charlotte – a gold-digging hostess from Tampa who married rich – but that’s an awfully shallow characterization. Instead, I think it’s pretty clear that after a few shocking truths about her husband and a long day of having sh*t hurled at her, Charlotte made a grief-stricken pass at Marco and it actually turned into something.
The situation is significantly different for Marco.This is a big test of the character’s likeability and it’s being thrown out quite early in the series. Thus far The Bridge has taken great pains to ensure that we know he’s an unconventional Juarez cop (our reminder of this fact – that he doesn’t take bribes – is ironically the reason that he ends up at Charlotte’s house). We’ve also been told repeatedly that he’s a family man, and we even learned last week that he’s an expectant father.
So after all of these visual and verbal cues about what kind of man Marco Ruiz is, it’s a daring move to undercut the quote/unquote “likeability” of this character in only the third episode in. Looking back, there were clearly signs of martial distrust from his wife, Alma (Catalina Sandino Moreno) when she asked if Sonya (Diane Kruger) was pretty. Moving forward it will be extremely interesting to a) see if this affair continues and b) how viewers react to this development (I’m anticipating that nearly all of the vitriol will be aimed at Charlotte, not Marco).
Setting aside the character assassination, Charlotte is – as expected – in completely over her head on the ranch. If we didn’t know that Lyle Lovett’s employer, Graciela Rivera (Alma Martinez) was bad news when we saw her hanging out at Carl’s funeral, it was pretty clear that her intentions were anything but innocent by the way she was eyeing that horse. The Godfather moment when Charlotte finds her prized horse hanging upside down in the barn is, as a result, hardly surprising. The problem is that we still don’t entirely understand the stakes: without more information about the tunnel, we’re as clueless as Charlotte.
The rest of the episode dances around the developments in the double murder on the bridge. A joint El Paso/FBI task force is created when it is revealed that the female immigrant from last week has been kidnapped. The search eventually leads Sonya and Marco to Linder’s trailer where they discover enough suspicious materials to bring him in for questioning. In the most interesting (non-adultery) scene of the episode, Linder brushes off their questions and spins a yarn about his missing sister when Sonya unfurls the picture he dropped last week.
At this point Wright and his heavy drawl is one of the most unique things about a show that is heavily immersed a dialectical dialogue. Unlike the compare and contrast approach adopted for Sonya/Marco, El Paso/Juarez, white/brown, Linder is truly one of a kind.
- Last week when he was protecting the judge’s crime scene, it was unclear if Deputy Stokes, the bumbling keystone cop, should be viewed suspiciously. This week Hank (Ted Levine) assigns Tim (Johnny Dowers) to figure out if he’s a credible threat. The verdict? Nope – the guy’s just an idiot who “couldn’t find a Mexican in Mexico”
- Still no sign of Eva, the poor girl Linder picked up in Juarez in the pilot. At this point Linder might as well have a blinking neon sign over his head that reads guilty, which likely means that he’s a red herring. He will need to be careful, however, since Eva’s pimp (brother?) – the assassin who murdered Linder’s neighbour – is now hot on his trail
- Just in case you forgot that Marco has a family, they conveniently show up at the El Paso precinct to remind us! Alma is worried because Gus (Carlos Pratts) is in trouble at school, which isn’t too surprising considering what we learned about his drug problems in the pilot (Side Note: how did I not recognize that Alma is played by Catalina Sandino Moreno?! She was a revelation in Maria Full Of Grace! If you haven’t seen it, drop everything and check it out!)
- Good to see Paul (Jason Wiles) pop back up as Sonya’s one night stand, if only because I like the idea of the former Third Watch hottie continuing to get work. Plus it facilitated this week’s “Awkward Moments with Sonya” when she candidly discusses their sexual encounter in front of her colleagues
- Finally, Matthew Lillard’s Daniel Frye continues to grate on my nerves, but I’m definitely in love with Mendez (Emily Rios). This woman not only knows how to put the drug-abusing hot shot in his place, she steals the show with the best line of the night
- Sonya (when asked why they reached out to the four millionaires): “I don’t have to ask permission”
- Mendez (when her family hits on Daniel): “Can you guys not throw your pussies at my co-worker?”
- Sonya (when Paul shows up): “What are you doing here? I can’t have sex at work.”
I’m throwing it back to you: what did you think of Marco and Charlotte’s hook-up? Are you intrigued by the human trafficking storyline? Warming up to Sonya? Enthralled by Mendez? And are we any closer to finding the killer (assuming it’s not actually Linder)? Sound off below
The Bridge airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX