Previously on The Bridge: Kyle became an object lesson for that old chestnut (don’t take home strange religiously delusional women just to cop a feel); taxidermy is considered a creepy practice for a reason; Marco starts to work Sonya’s case from both sides; and if a drag queen helps anyone on the side of the righteous, well, just draw your own Kiss of the Spider Woman mini-tragedy conclusions from that, okay?
Eleanor learns about the fun of discount shopping and takes a new spin on old school self-flagellation by ecstatically sticking pins into her tattooed chest and smiling at the blood running down. The extended time spent on this bit is a micro-encapsulation of this season so far: Eleanor is sinister and fascinating as she punishes her many and varied sins in the mirror, but where in this picture are Sonya and Marco fighting crime? Hey Eleanor, you get blood on that two-for-one blouse, you bought it, okay?
“That wasn’t as good as the first time,” Sonya tells Jack Dobbs matter-of-factly right after they finish screwing. The entire scene is there to remind us (a) Sonya is crap at pillow talk and (b) Jack is being kept around for some plotty purpose (“don’t worry; it’ll be better next time,” Sonya assures him).
At El Paso PD, Kitty the fun receptionist offers Marco “one of those air mattress thingies” and an omelet in the morning (Kitty, do not get involved with Marco). But instead Marco decides to spend his night drinking fancy rye whiskey with Hank. When Hank offers to let Marco see Eva, “I’d rather not,” Marco says quickly, explaining he’s being followed. He doesn’t want his corrupt colleagues (or, I would guess, Fausto Galvan’s goons) to find out about the Ranch of Sexy Endangered Women overseen by Pastor Killed-a-Guy.
“I could use your perspective,” Hank says, asking Marco to take on investigating the case with Sonya. I assume Marco feels guilty about allegedly helping his friends while doing undercover dirty work for a drug cartel leader. But I honestly have NO IDEA, because it seems like the show would rather focus on Eleanor the Freaking Terrifying Former Mennonite’s rapturous masochism instead of what the hell is going on inside the head of one of our main characters.
That crazy ol’ Ray Ray is back, making poor beleaguered Cesar take the wheel while he pees out the window, and getting the drugs they’re running for Fausto Galvan hijacked by a group of mask-wearing glow-stick-BMX-bike-tire sporting Mexican teenagers. Learning Ray stowed the drugs in a horse’s butt, the kids shoot the horse then make Ray pull the contraband out himself. Though the leader turns the gun on them, he says he’ll leave that job to Fausto Galvan; obviously Cesar and Ray are marked as dead men.
Back at El Paso PD, Marco and Sonya question Dex, who has come in with his mom to talk about Eleanor’s scary tattoos and to emphasize that Kyle is still missing. At Kyle’s house, his father explodes when Sonya remarks disapprovingly on his parenting that “children do better with curfews”. “How is this helping to get our son back?” the man exclaims.
I feel like at this point Sonya should have a cheat sheet of appropriate responses when talking to friends/family of probably-murdered people. I get that it’s not her instinct to respond sympathetically, but surely she’s cottoned on that her methods aren’t totally good neighborhood relationship building A+ police work. Meanwhile, Marco questions Kyle’s little brother, which would have been a great opportunity to emphasize that Marco has been entirely cut off from his own kids. But nope, we just get the little boy revealing that “someone took my metamorphosis card” when his brother went missing.
Eleanor spends the rest of her day shopping, picking up a plastic vat, gallons of chemicals, and hiring some poor Mexican migrant worker who, his friends tell us, isn’t right in the head since his accident. You know, taking some time for herself to relax and dunk her murdered teen accomplice in an acid bath with the help of a mentally incapacitated illegal immigrant. Just girly stuff. *buffs nails*
Agent McKenzie raises eyebrows when his offers the theory that Eleanor, as a chick with a tattoo, totally likes to do it, and refuses to share information with the El Paso PD crew because he doesn’t trust Marco being a Mexican from Juarez.
Okay, he’s so wrong about Eleanor the Freaking Terrifying Former Mennonite, right? Except, hey, Eleanor did lure Kyle in first with tattoos and then promises of sex. And he’s completely prejudiced about Marco, obviously! Except, huh, Marco is working for Fausto Galvan on the sly so he can avenge his son’s death. Basically McKenzie is played for a stupid biased Fed, but he’s on to more than a few key things.
“Please be alive,” Daniel mutters as he and Adriana pay a visit to Raul. “I was kind of hoping you’d be all dressed up,” Daniel says when Raul answers (he does actually seem disappointed; I’m still curious about these random hints at possibly sexually flexible Daniel). When he learns his bomboncito was killed and stuffed into a duffel bag, Raul is horrified but insists it wasn’t the cartel who did it. Whoever it was, “they’ll be following you now,” he warns them. “Have fun with that.”
Hey, how about a scene of Fausto Galvan moping in a garage-parked speedboat, so we can tie together a few loose-ish plot threads?! He asks if Marco’s made progress (so we remember Fausto is the one searching for Eleanor and that Marco is working for his cartel), complains about losing money (Ray and Cesar’s forced handover to the teenagers), warns Capitan Robles to stay away from the Bellagua neighborhood while he enacts revenge (to remind us Robles is crooked as all get out and that Galvan rules the streets of Juarez). There’s also mention of the “boy sent to do a man’s job” prosecutor from Mexico City, so we don’t forget that Abelardo is somewhere paging through files searching out Chihuahua PD corruption.
Steven Linder revs back onto the scene on his motorcycle with a full crazy beard!
“Froggie Went A-Courtin'” plays in the background while Linder buys a necklace for Eva from — hey, is that John Cale formerly of the Velvet Underground? The necklace will cost Linder eighteen bucks, but he gets a rock for free. “David took down that son of a bitch Goliath with a single stone,” John Cale’s character says, and when even Steven Linder looks at you like you’re crazy in the head, you really must be nuts, right?
Next Linder arrives at the Ranch of Sexy Endangered Women to find Pastor Bob has captured the guy trying to kill Eva. “Hola amigo,” Linder greets the guy, who is strung up on a rafter, but Bob explains there’s no need for Spanish if “we’re speaking the universal language of pain.” Linder objects to the violence and “wants to hear his story.”
At Eleanor’s storage unit for making out with and killing teenage boys, Sonya and Marco find sneakers and clothes belonging to Kyle, along with some blood. Oh look, there’s Kyle’s little brother’s Metamorphosis card (did Eleanor leave it on purpose?) planted on the dead kid’s stuff.
While Eleanor’s forcing her poor mentally incapacitated helper to haul a plastic vat of Kyle into a hiding place, she calls Monte the level-headed-in-a-bloodbath lawyer to tell him, “Something happened; I’m managing it.” There’s just one more thing she needs to take care of before she heads back to Juarez. Is it to look disapprovingly as a monarch butterfly lands on her hand?
To kill Jaime the immigrant helper to cover up more misdeeds? Or is it to do with connecting Kyle’s “Metamorphosis,” the butterfly, and Eleanor’s fallen-angel religious weirdness?
While Ray tells Charlotte they’re going to “act like white people and disappear, and let our lawyer do the talking” (he thinks they should head to Alaska because “Mexicans don’t like cold”), Cesar opts to go be with his wife and kids, maybe watch a video, because he knows that if Fausto Galvan is looking for them, “running will only piss him off.” Annabeth Gish continues to be strangely underused as Charlotte Millwright. If she’s now on the run with Ray calling the shots, lord help her, this may just be the last time we run into her.
“Why did he do it?” Sonya asks Marco about David Tate, the big reveal serial killer of last season who murdered Marco’s son Gus. Oh, right, that whole storyline! “I can feel his presence in the room,” Marco muses about his lost child, “And it’s good.” “That never happened to me,” Sonya says sadly, referring to her dead sister (reminding us they share similar losses of murdered loved ones).
Steven Linder gives Eva the necklace, “An Apache Tear,” so named for the mothers who wept when their children rode their horses off cliffs rather than being killed by the cavalry. Well, that’s not a foreboding gift or anything. He reminds Eva she can talk to him, especially about her gradually returning memories of what happened the night she was kidnapped and raped.
While Pastor Bob waxes poetic about weird heavenly creatures to the man strung up on the rafters, Linder, fresh from hearing about Eva’s horrific experience, exclaims, “Sunday School’s over, Bob,” and kills the man with the rock he got earlier.
Okay, so. Apparently Eva is going to continue to be nothing more than a vehicle by which we see male characters perpetrating crimes or suffering from the reveal of those crimes? Might she not have some dense character development herself as a result of those experiences? Hey, maybe she would have liked to brain that guy who was after her with the rock instead of hanging back while Linder self-righteously kills him for polluting a woman he’s got designs on.
Look, though I’m glad The Bridge focuses on complicated women characters like Sonya and now Eleanor, the show also needs to figure out how to give a textured portrayal of more traditional feminine characters. If not, we’re back to some of the same problems of last season, using the Lost Girls of Juarez as a symbolic value and backdrop rather than delving into their stories on their own rights.
Eleanor shows up at Dex’s room to kill him because “you looked upon me,” but when Dex panics and pisses himself, she realizes “you’re really just a little boy, aren’t you?” When he sobs, she rhapsodizes about “the light, you are full of it,” and tells him to close his eyes. “Your friend, he’s with the butterflies,” she whispers before leaving him unharmed.
“And then she left. Why?” Sonya demands, wondering why Eleanor didn’t take Dex to see Kyle. Gee, maybe it’s a good thing she didn’t haul him off to meet the same end as his dead friend, Sonya. When Dex shamefacedly tells her and Marco about how he peed himself and mumbles Eleanor’s message about the butterflies, Sonya immediately guesses where they can find Kyle.
“Please, not the gun,” our poor drag queen friend Raul pleads when Alejandro (who I am nearly positive is one of the corrupt Chihuahua cops from last season) shows up with a gun to kill him. “I want to be pretty,” he explains tearfully. No, Raul! I wanted you to live and become part of the investigation into Galvan’s money laundering and possibly start a weird but shy romance with recovering alcoholic and sort of an asshole reporter Daniel Frye! Alejandro agrees, offering to stab Raul straight into his heart. “Don’t cry, beautiful,” he murmurs as Raul gasps. “Jesus,” Raul pants as Alejandro settles him on the floor where a pool of blood quickly forms around his body. “What have I done?” Alejandro blurts as he gazes at Raul’s crucifix. Um. You just killed Raul? *hands*
Sonya leads Marco (and later, a whole squad from the El Paso PD) to an old monarch butterfly sanctuary, where they do indeed find the barrel Eleanor purchased, butterflies clinging to the lid. They reveal Kyle inside, both flinching at the smell. When cop cars surround the scene, we see Eleanor standing nearby, watching Sonya.
How are you all finding season two of The Bridge? Are you fascinated by Eleanor the Freaking Terrifying Former Mennonite? Or do you miss more focus on Sonya and Marco? How are you finding all these many and varied plot threads — captivating, or off-putting and confusing? Basically, I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Bridge; come talk to me in comments!