Last week, I praised The Bridge for hitting all of the right notes: for moving the serial killer story along in a meaningful way while keeping the pace at thriller-levels, while placing it fully in the rich world that the series has done so well in creating. But “ID” didn’t feel like the “The Beast.” Don’t get me wrong. “ID” is not a bad episode. But it feels less than when placed next to an episode that The Bridge should aspire to. While the addition of even more secondary characters is beginning to make The Bridge feel a bit bloated, “ID’s” strength came through further exploration into the characters we already know.
One of the problems with The Beast (that moniker feels more apt than simply The Killer after he stabbed Gina) as the central driving force behind the narrative at this point is actually pointed out by Hank Wade: It’s personal, it’s political, it’s all over the place. The killer's purpose isn’t clear to law enforcement, a factor that continues to make him all the more elusive. But even as the world expands, we as a semi-omniscient audience don’t have any insight into him either. He kills to further his killing, and it’s difficult to get behind a guy who is simply a monster rather than one who purports to have a purpose. I don’t want to root for The Beast, and we’re not supposed to, but it also means that the case always feels like it’s floundering, like it’s a one step forward, two steps back operation, and that’s not particularly fun to watch. It’s a tough balance: Make the case seem too easy and it’s not compelling, nor is it worth a full season arc. But right now it’s so opaque that I’m not having all that much fun watching Sonya and Marco continuously falter. So what do we know about The Beast? He has eyes. And they aren’t nice. He also has insider information and lots of it, especially considering he knew about poor, now-dead Gina. Sure, The Beast needed to cover his ass to continue his crimes, but her murder seems at odds with whatever purpose he claims to have.
As the case continues, the world of The Bridge expands. And expands. And expands. Characters continue to be introduced. What I love about this show is that it’s not a closed circuit. It bodes well for further seasons because there is so much to build off of at this point. But that openness, that expansion, is part of the reason my patience for The Beast is waning. Sure, there’s a psychopath on the loose, but what’s up with Ray and his shady, Fed-friendly buddy Tim (Don Swayze, bro of Patrick, who is credited on IMDB as Tampa Tim, which says so much about the guy, doesn’t it?)? There’s also the addition of Brad William Henke as Jim Dobbs, the man who raped and killed Sonya’s sister. He’s severely brain damaged by Hank’s hand (explaining his patriarchal bond), living in a cell and drawing pictures of a blonde girl with no face. The Law and Order rules of television generally state that if you recognize the guest star, there’s usually more to them than meets the eye, so it figures he must factor in further down the line. It’s interesting that Dobbs continuously draws his girls with blackened out faces, while it’s the eyes of The Beast that caught Gina in the first place.
The lives of the characters continue to expand as well. Ray becomes Charlotte’s proxy when it comes to dealing with Graciela and the tunnel, which cannot bode well for Charlotte. I like Ray because he adds a certain comedic lightness to increasingly dark proceedings, and because Brian Van Holt plays charming Florida hick so well. Daniel decides to get clean but really gives no reason for his decision, other than maybe feeling stupid for allowing Marco to steal his phone.
Both Sonya and Marco are given extended glimpses into their childhoods. In addition to dealing with her sister’s death, Sonya reveals that her mother was a heavy drug user, continuing on the theme that users are as much of the drug trade as dealers. But it’s Marco who gets the greatest reveal. Not only does he know Fausto through his police work but through their shared history as well. Marco’s father started the cartel with Fausto’s father back in the day. Not only is Marco a parallel to the icy Sonya, but he’s now a parallel to Fausto as well. They started in the same place, but their lives have greatly diverged, with Marco staying steadfastly moral, which Fausto does not understand. Marco’s history with his father may be fraught, if only because of their different life choices, but it hasn’t changed his behavior when it comes to his own son or family. Marco continues to be a shitty father. His disregard for his son’s well-being, nearly abandoning Gus with Alma and not thinking that it would greatly affect how Gus feels, is at total odds with the warmth he shows to all suspects.
- I don’t know if it’s the idealistic journalist who has seen All The President’s Men one to many times in me or what, but I love Adriana and Daniel’s insistence on going after The Beast despite the involvement of the cartel. Adriana is terrified because she’s seen firsthand, and subsequently shown Daniel, what the cartels are capable of. But she wants the story anyway. That’s what matters.
- “He kept my pen.” More Monty Flagman, please.
- “That’s un-American. Eat your Freedom Fries.”