The Bridge continues to expand beyond its genre trappings as its fifth installment provides few serial killer clues, but several strange developments.
Let’s bitch it out…I’m very interested to hear what audiences are making of The Bridge, which at this point has nearly abandoned any pretense of being a straightforward serial killer mystery. There’s an extended B-plot in tonight’s episode that makes no effort to tie into any of our other storylines. For substantial portions of ‘The Beast’, we follow a previously unseen runaway white girl who ventures into Juarez, nearly kidnapped, told the story of a local urban legend and eventually returned to El Paso. It’s not until the episode’s final moments that Gina Meadows (Cole Bernstein) connects with Sonya (Diane Kruger) and Marco (Demián Bichir) in her house, which also happens to be the home of the (dead) psychiatrist treating deceased FBI agent Gedman. It’s the kind of plot that can easily turn off a casual viewer because it resists traditional storytelling conventions. Instead of elaborating who this girl is and why we should care about her safety, The Bridge asks us to follow her journey, trusting that the rationale will eventually be explained.
It’s a recurring element on The Bridge. This same tactic was employed a few weeks back when the group of illegal immigrants spent 1×03 ‘Rio’ wandering around for seemingly no reason. It wasn’t until the end of that episode that we realized the killer was watching them. ‘The Beast’ follows the same formula, nearly to a tee. As it stands, Gina’s role in the investigation remains a strange coincidence (for now), and we’re really no closer to catching the killer.
At this point it’s pretty obvious that The Bridge will never simply focus on the hunt for the killer. We’re just under the halfway point of the first season, and the writers are still unraveling these mysterious characters, making connections between them and exploring the tension that exists between borders. That’s fine for me, but I wonder whether the audience falls off a cliff as viewers accustomed to the more traditional ‘hunt and catch the killer’ begin to jump ship.
Personally I’m in for the long run…
- After weeks of running around killing folks, Hector (Arturo del Puerto) gets what’s coming to him. In a scene I bet Quentin Tarantino (or Walter White) would approve of, Hector attacks Linder (Thomas M. Wright) in his apartment. It’s a vicious, physical fight that feels reminiscent of Justified* not only because it’s shocking quick and visceral, but for its unconventional choice of weapons. And wouldn’t you know it, the iron is mightier than the belt. I quite liked that we pause in-between brutal blows to the head so that Linder can speak with Marco before returning to finishing Hector off
- *Director Gwyneth Horder-Payton has directed several episodes of the FX stablemate drama, as well as eps of Sons Of Anarchy
- Of course, it’s never easy to dispose of a body. Just when we think that Linder might get away with it, Fausto Galvan’s (Ramon Franco) henchman finds him burying Hector’s body. Linder is definitely one of the most intriguing characters on the show, but I’m not sure how attached I should get to him now that he’s off to meet a man who refuses the title of ‘serial killer’ solely because he doesn’t enjoy killing his victims
- Those people who are unhappy with Sonya’s lack of social skills probably found this episode challenging. I would argue that Sonya likely hasn’t been caught in many adulterous situations (I get the impression Ted Levine’s Hank has protected her by allowing her to work solo before now). For this reason her innocence in handing back Marco’s wallet at the dinner table makes more sense
- Ahh there’s that backstory on the sister: Sonya’s sister was a diner waitress killed by a “brain-damaged man” when Sonya was fifteen. Will this info be important beyond providing insight on one of our central protagonists? We’ll have to wait to see. In the meantime, I loved the way that this scene played with silence, shadows & lights. Very emotional
- When Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) doesn’t get much solace from Marco when she asks for help dealing with Graciela (an unseen Alma Martinez), she calls in an old boy-toy acquaintance, CougarTown‘s Brian Van Holt. Wow – he’s even more Tampa than she is! (Side Note: I’m resisting making a Penny Can joke)
- The story that Gina is told about the titular ‘Beast’ sounds like an urban legend propagated to help explain the abduction and murder of so many Mexican women. It’s a perfect cover for our killer (or any killer for that matter) because any detail, no matter how fantastic details (including the widely varying number of victims) only gives him greater notoriety. The Beast is a boogeyman, a horror story to scare people, and it will make him near impossible to find
- Finally, I know that this show is highlighting how porous the border is, but it’s pretty laughable to see Gina simply walk across the El Paso/Juarez bridge without showing any documentation. I’m sure we’re meant to assume she already has, but it certainly looks like she just strolls across the bridge and enters another country!
- Sonya (explaining why she hasn’t eaten her dinner): “It doesn’t taste good”
- Sonya (to Matthew Lillard’s Frye): “You do a lot of drugs, don’t you?”
- Sonya (when Marco comes home late): “More sex?”
Over to you: how are you finding the unconventional narrative elements – do they challenge you or do you just go along with them? Will Gina prove the key to cracking the case? Is the legend of ‘The Beast’ familiar to you? And what kind of dirty trouble will Charlotte and Bobby Cobb get up to? Comment away below
The Bridge airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX