The Bridge 1.02 – Calaca

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Previously on The Bridge: Sonya and Marco partner to discover who dumped the body (eventually revealed to be two separate corpses) found on the USA-Mexico border. Charlotte goes from loving and anxious wife of a dying husband to spurned widow slash secret-discoverer.  Creepy Mutton Chops kidnaps Eva Guerra and acts suspiciously like that serial killer everyone’s searching for.  And, reporter Daniel Frye offended so many people he can’t even begin to imagine which one planted a pipe bomb in his car.

Back at the ranch, Charlotte reveals what’s behind that padlocked door.  Who else thought it would be Carl’s hidden (and obviously not kept in much comfort) secret second Mexican family?  But nope, we shift immediately from infidelity suspicions to human trafficking as Charlotte discovers a tunnel that leads to Mexico.  

Charlotte, I know you’re grieving, but you don’t have to be so bossy to Caesar.  On the other hand, Caesar’s apparently complicit in Carl’s scheme of running illegals, which was so inhumanely managed that some of them died in that tunnel (witness the altar with the skeleton, which seems less like a random death and more like a HORRIFYING OMEN).  So I can’t worry too much about his bruised feelings.  Charlotte understandably freaks out, telling Caesar to board up the tunnel.

Just to remind us how grim a secret journey across the border is, we shift to a truck, half-filled with cows, half-filled with illegal immigrants.  It’s a desperate scene, made more so when the driver takes advantage of their awful situation, reneging on his promise to drive them across the border and deserted them in the middle of nowhere.  One furious young man goes to kill him with a rock; a young woman grabs the driver’s rifle to stop him.  They take their money from the unconscious driver so they can try to trudge to Houston.

Marco suggests they go talk to Frye.  Sonya gets huffy, because HER suspect, HER case, etc., but Marco genially says, no problem, he’ll just ask him a few questions, and Sonya can totally be the one to interrogate him.

“You’re the bitch on the phone,” Frye announces to Sonya.  Gee, so much for me imagining they had a moment of connection back at the car bomb.  Marco steals the questioning out from under Sonya, misleading Frye into thinking they found drugs at his place.  Oh, Sonya, it is a TERRIBLE idea to play the recorded message from the bomber to an amoral tabloid reporter.  Apparently tequila hasn’t dulled Frye’s wits; he writes down the speech he remembers verbatim.

Creepy Mutton Chops, I thought you weren’t the murderer!  But how am I supposed to react to you taking out garbage bags of Eva’s license and belongings and SETTING THEM ON FIRE outside your deserted trailer?  In the flames, Eva’s cell phone rings; Creepy pulls it out to watch a dancing skeleton graphic as the ringing continues.

Poor Marco has already lost the battle of El Paso now that they’ve got a new message from the killer, and is driving Sony to Juarez.  “My wife says hi,” he mentions after getting off the phone with her, which sends Sonya into an extreme Spock “Illogical!” tizzy, because why would she say hi if they don’t know one another?

At the Juarez/Chihuahua State Police headquarters, Marco tells the hella-armed cops “the white woman is with me.”  They examine a box of evidence related to the Fuentes case.  Wow, twenty-three dead cartel members were dumped at the same Death House as Fuentes.  Er, but the record only says twenty-two, because the police covered up the name of the final cartel member at the request of his mob-boss brother.

To me it seems Fuentes’s body was used strategically in this two-bodies-at-the-border scheme to shine a light on just this sort of corruption.  Now that the cases of Fuentes and Gates have reached the attention of American federal agencies, the cartel members who were hidden in the same Death House as Fuentes invariably will be spotlighted.

Marco’s crooked Captain turns up to schmooze with the pretty lady detective.  But of course Sonya can’t cotton on to Marco’s hush-up-on-the-cartel-death-thing, and resists shaking the Captain’s hand to immediately go for the jugular, asking why the case was never investigated.  “Keep the Americans out of our business,” the Captain orders Marco, who tells Sonya that all her prying could result in his and his family’s murder.

Great, there’s a new scary dude on the scene searching for Eva in Juarez with HOLY CRAP menace (he throttles an old woman sweeping!  He almost kills a homeless paint-huffing guy who has Eva’s shiny shoes!).

“He’s mad at me,” Sonya confesses to Hank when he asks how things are working with Marcos.  “I ask too many questions.”  Poor kid needs a bunch of training on when she can appropriately ask stuff.  She mentions Marco’s wife calling just to hear his voice; does Hank’s wife do that?  He tells her yes, adding to her confusion about relationships.

Tim Cooper, our mustachioed misogynistic pal, traces Judge Gates’s movements buying gas on the security camera, pinpointing the moment when her murderer slipped into the back seat of her car.  Gah, I cannot think about this the next time I pump gas.

At the ranch, Charlotte gets a visitor.

the bridge 102 lyle lovett bean salad

Lyle Lovett’s bean salad is suspiciously green.

Hey, it’s Lyle Lovett, with a three-bean salad and some ominous warnings about how her dead husband Carl had a “prior obligation” that he’s expecting her to honor!  The “or I’ll break your and your horse’s legs” is heavily implied.

While our unlucky group of illegals wanders around lost and tries to ration their water, Marco heads to the red-light district in Juarez to question an on-the-job prostitute about Cristina Fuentes.  Seriously, she’s on the job — Marcos scares the Featured Bare Butt dude off her with his gun.  Marco learns Cristina used to work the room, and yells at the pimp because of course the current prostitute is only sixteen years old.

Sonya settles in for a quiet evening of looking at gory crime-scene photos, eating butter noodles, and communing with her fish.  But she’s antsy, so she heads to a bar to pick up the first guy who offers to buy her a drink.  It takes a few goes for him to understand she only wants sex — even back at her place, he seems stunned that she’s ready to go right at it, and looks like he feels pretty cheap when she rolls off him without a word after.

I actually liked this scene, as sad and desperate and awkward as it was.  I don’t think it’s just that Sonya wants sex: she wants a real connection with someone, something she can’t escape observing others have (like Hank or Marco and their respective wives).  That she treats the encounter like Insert Tab A Into Slot B — and thinks nothing of examining the pics of the bisected body in bed when her Tab A wakes up and awkwardly asks if he should stay — goes a good distance to show how disconnected she truly is.

Creepy Mutton Chops goes to work.  I know, he has an actual JOB.  It seems he’s a supervisor at a homeless or drug rehab type shelter; the picture of a new blond girl seems to fascinate him, urk.

Even if Sonya unconsciously envies Marco his relationships, we get the feeling not all is stable in the Ruiz household.  Marco’s son Gus (seemingly from his first marriage) isn’t fitting in with the rest of the family, refusing to come to dinner.  Marco isn’t helping with his repeated line of “I’ll talk to him”; it seems a deflection more than a solution.  And guess what?  Mrs. Ruiz is pregnant again, which makes that vasectomy Marco just had to get seem a bit pointless.  “We’ll be fine,” she says, even as Marco silently worries about having more children in their dangerous city with its disappearing girls.

Hank is not having a good morning.  First he has to hear Sonya blithely tell him she had sex last night, then he learns Frye and his cub-reporter partner Adrianna Mendez have run the story about the killer’s word-for-word message.  Cooper gets assigned to Frye’s tail (“like hair on a biscuit!”) while Sonya apologizes.  “Just check with me next time,” says Hank in his fatherly gravel-y voice.  Wow, Sonya would not survive on the force were it not for his protection.

Marco and Sonya and Hank return to the scene where Gates’s lower-half (ugh) was found, to find the well-meaning adult-braces-wearing goofy Deputy has put a coyote’s head on a spike to keep other animals away from the crime scene.  He also wants to be on that task force, ma’am, despite the less-than-impressive mention of his killer migraines.  “It’s a head-buster!’ he says cheerfully of the case.  I hope he sticks around; lord knows we could do with some comic relief.  Meanwhile, Sonya finds a bead, a clue the killer has left behind deliberately.

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Marco watches as Sonya finds a bead and humanizes her just by standing there.

Charlotte pays a visit to Lyle Lovett, dumping three-bean salad on his desk to show him, booyah, that’s how you make three-bean salad!  This completely confounds Lyle Lovett, because he thought Three Bean Salad meant bringing over a pot full of money, and assuming your mark had taken the bribe to keep up that trafficking humans thing.

Earlier, the camera showed a partial shot of a man wearing boots walking with sets of large water bottles.  Now the poor illegals stumble across a shrine of Santa Muerte — another skeleton clothed and posed much like statues of the Virgin Mary or other saints, much like the one in Carl’s Inhumane Trafficking Tunnel — surrounded by said water bottles.  “Don’t drink,” the young woman from earlier pleads even as the others exclaim it’s a blessing and consume the offering immediately.

At El Paso CAP, a man turns up claiming responsibility for the bomb’s message.   After some awkward misunderstandings slamming against a desk (the man reached for his inhaler, Marco BAMFed out early, thinking it was a gun), we learn the man is an actor.  Anyone seen his noteworthy Falstaff?  No?  Our serial killer was aware of him, though, sending him the script to do the recording and return it to a P.O. Box for a money-order payment.  Here’s the real kicker: he made the recording three years ago.  So this string of events has been in the planning stages for at least that long.

The border patrol cop that let Creepy Mutton Chops through last ep turns out to be crooked, giving the a photo identifying Creepy’s car to Scary Dude.  Scary immediately walks the hallways of Creepy’s apartment building (he lives in a legit apartment sometimes!).  When a neighbor threatens to call the police, he strangles her after pretending to drink her tears, cripes.

After Daniel Frye and his cub reporter friend Adriana laugh at Tim staking them out while they eat tacos, Frye’s phone rings.  It’s the distorted-voiced killer, giving Frye a string of mystifying numbers.  Adriana immediately figures out the numbers represent a GPS coordinate (helps to have a surveyor for your dad).  Soon they’re walking the deserted area off a dirt road in search of the location.  Guess where the coordinates lead?  It’s Santa Muerte, surrounded by her ring of dead supplicants — the illegals who desperately drank the water they found around her.

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Sweet holy f–

Soon the police are on the scene, along with Hank, Sonya, and Marco.  “The fence forces them out here,” Marco points out soberly in explanation of why the nine dead illegals were wandering there.  Unbeknownst to them, the young woman who refused to drink the water is still alive, but just barely, crawling to the road, where she’s met by someone unknown but menacing.  Over at the Santa Muerte site, Sonya discovers another bead at the bottom of one of the water bottles.  “It’s him,” she says grimly.

I loved finding out more about Juarez and Marcos in this episode, delving into the complications of living on the Mexican side of the mystery.  For now I still think Creepy hasn’t killed Eva, but wow, are the signs not supporting me on this!  I enjoyed seeing Adrianna becoming more prominent; last ep she seemed merely a way to illustrate how much Frye has gone to seed; now she’s becoming a character in her own right.  I’m still really curious to learn how Charlotte’s storyline will fit into the larger mystery — her backstory of waitressing (excuse me, hostessing) when she met Carl in Tampa leads me to think she’s a tougher woman than we might originally have expected.

Let me know what you think of the series so far, and join me next week for another recap of the new episode of The Bridge on FX!