The Bridge: “Vendetta”
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The Bridge: “Vendetta”

Well, I guess Jackson Childress is off the hook.

What interested me most about “Vendetta” was not necessarily who the Beast turned out to be, although it was a solid choice in expansive world. But at what point in the overall series he was revealed. In previous reviews, I’ve talked about my Television Expectations and how they relate to The Bridge, namely why I wanted more from the show’s driving mechanism: the serial killer storyline. It’s also the reason I never believed Jackson Childress was anything but a dogmatic lunatic with excellent aim. Any mystery fan knows to be weary of the pat red herring. But any television fan knows that the heart-stopping season finale, or at least penultimate episode, is where killers are generally unmasked. It’s the timing that gave the Kenneth Hastings/David Tate its shock value for me. There are still four episodes left to go and that’s a lot of time to catch a killer, even one as seemingly brilliant as Tate. The Bridge hadn’t broken much ground in the procedural portion of its story but this comparatively early revelation is the show’s most interesting subversion of the genre. I’m excited to see where the show goes next, and that’s not an expectation I’m used to having after the big reveal when, usually, all loose ends are tied up neatly (except, of course, for those that will launch season two).

Alma and David’s affair was satellite plot that I figured had significance but could never really place. I hardly mention the affair in previous reviews because it felt so on the periphery. It was difficult to reconcile with the rest of the plots revolving in The Bridge’s orbit, if only because it seemed so small and benign, especially compared to Linder who is a mystery unto himself. That ended up being the point. It’s not that David’s identity was that gasp-inducing. Like Charlotte or Linder, David and Alma’s affair had to somehow come into play within the larger context. At this point in the development of the story, there were a lot of people who were fair game suspects, especially those with insider knowledge due to their police work. Hell, I even had my doubts about Gus at one point. I don’t think anyone we already knew was going to be a particularly shocking Beast, unless it was an egregiously terrible choice. And it wasn’t terrible. As an FBI agent, David Tate had insider access and the possible know-how to get what he needed to get done. He had connections in both El Paso and Juarez, especially to Marco who was sleeping with his now-deceased wife, the source his previous marital agita. But there are still questions to be explored: How did he know about Gina? Daniel Frye’s connection to Santi Jr., the reason for the death of David’s wife and child, was made clear to the audience, but how did it become clear to David? What did Manny Stokes figure out that we still haven’t gathered? Did David know that detail-oriented Sonya was on to him, or was killing Santi Jr. the natural end to his plan? David certainly didn’t shoot Marco in the warehouse because it wasn’t time for him to die yet. So what’s next for David?

But it’s okay that my jaw didn’t drop with the Beast revelation, because this show isn’t about the mystery and never really has been, and it’s a tribute to the world that this show has created. One of my favorite scenes in “Vendetta” was when Adriana came home to get ready for the Juarez soiree. Adriana makes mention of Santiago Sol’s engineer who is rumored to be killing girls in Juarez. It’s just a rumor, her mother retorts. But it’s yet another mystery that won’t be solved because of this man’s position and friends in high places. This is exactly what David as the Beast ostensibly tried to illuminate, even if his motivations were more deeply personal than that. As Adriana’s sister leaves for work, Adriana and her mother implore her to be careful on her commute home. Yes, David/the Beast is still on the loose, but there are still dangers for those women still living in Juarez. There are still Beasts out there.

And just as life goes on in Juarez, it continues for the other smaller, satellite plots. Linder is losing it more than normal, as Fausto Galvan haunts him. There was no real conclusion to the Linder-Galvan showdown after Linder was caught burying Galvan’s henchman, although it certainly wasn’t an allegiance. There’s still so much to be garnered from Linder and even the four episode left doesn’t seem enough to delve into this man. The larger scale mystery has been blown open, but Linder remains unsolved.

Charlotte Millwright is another character whose story feel like its just beginning. Graciela has discovered the FBI-planted tracking devices in the guns and that will certainly not end well for poor, stupid Ray. But Charlotte feels like she’s gaining an agency that she hasn’t possessed before. Before, she was a wife, then a mistress, then Ray’s girlfriend. I would like to see her become something else entirely, not associated with the men in her life. Her distrust of Ray is growing. I’m reminded of her first meeting with Graciela, when Graciela discussed how similar the two women are, to Charlotte’s disgust. They were both poor and the both did whatever they could to achieve a station in life that was not previously afforded to them by class. Are we seeing the rise of a crime boss in the making or will Charlotte’s end be similar to what I expect is Ray’s fate?

So we know who the killer is. Sonya and Marco know who the killer is. But there’s a rich world that can still be parsed, that I still want to know, that can still be explored. And I’m glad The Bridge has given us that world to explore it. A big theme in The Bridge has been balance: the imbalance of the relationship between El Paso and Juarez, the dualities of the partnerships and relationships, David's double life, Marco's success at work mirrored by his failures at home. How these imbalances are righted, or even further thrown off kilter, is what I am excited to see in the series' homestretch.

Stray observations:

  • Demian Bichir continues to be wonderful.
  • A damaged Tim Cooper finally calls out Hank Wade for giving Sonya a certain degree of special treatment. This cannot have been the first time Sonya has run into this issue, although it was certainly spurred by Cooper’s overall stress since seeing Manny Stokes get his head blown off.
  • Even after Gus asks Sonya why she is the way she is, she never outright says she’s on the spectrum. Commenters have previously noted that Sonya might be undiagnosed and her inability to fully understand her condition other than knowing that she’s different from other people speaks to her character. Sonya as a character has been criticized for having no learned socialization, but knowing that she had absentee parent as was likely a product of the system could explain why she has never adapted.
  • David Tate is extremely adept at killing people and not getting blood on his clothing. Other TV killers: Take note.
  • “Are you proud of your father?” “Your marriage is falling apart, but congrats.”
  • “Tim swallows that suck sauce like warm beer.” Aw, poor Ray. Maybe it’s my affection for Brian Van Holt’s Bobby Cobb on “Cougar Town,” but I’ve grown to like our resident Florida redneck.

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