Previously on The Bridge: Previously on The Bridge: Charlotte handed over the tunnel to her pal Ray because apparently everything’s easier when men handle stuff and the women can go “la la laaaa, I don’t know anything about it; Gina Meadows’s life went from bad to seriously over; and Hank and Marco revealed some unexpected connections to other characters that made me spit out my seltzer in sheer plot-twisty delight.
Oh, Ray the Man-Toy Gun Runner Skeevemeister! You think you have the upper hand with Graciela the tunnel queen, but boy, are you ever wrong! Making an Erykah Badu joke about Graciela’s glamor turban isn’t going to bring her round to letting you haul weapons through that tunnel. You’re going to have to throw in some A+ oral sex to sweeten the deal.
There’s no better show of Graciela’s dominance over Ray than him bending over in her lap, am I right? And there’s nothing more hilarious than Graciela’s zebra-striped platform sandals propped out the window of her SUV while her driver discreetly looks the other way.
Remember that Crown Vic painted to look like a cop car found at the scene of Peter Meadows’ death? Yeah, I had to remind myself of that link as well. Anyway, Sonya obsesses over finding the owner while Marco wanders around in her apartment shirtless and drinking coffee. “You like details, just like the killer,” Marco observes as Sonya goes into focus-mode and he (sadly) dons his clothing. Maybe she should listen to her gut. Maybe Marco should listen to his gut, Sonya counters, if he thinks Alma might take him back. Ouch. But Sonya obviously doesn’t mind if Marco crashes on her couch forever, so I don’t think he could find a better pal right now.
Deputy Stokes! He’s getting his adult braces off! Aww, there goes the terrific comedy of having a bumbling deputy with a flash of gleaming metal whenever he gives his dopey grin. While the orthodontist’s tools are in his pie hole, he keeps trying to yammer about the “confidential stuff” of the task force he’s on. Well, I once railed about the seventh inning of a Met game while a dentist was filling a cavity, so *fist-bump*.
Oh great, now Alma thinks Marco slept with Sonya because he spent the night there. He gives her that most awful infidelity line (“It meant nothing”) about Charlotte and denies any new cheating while the camera pans to the happy photos of their kids, starting with a reflected version of the couple and ending with actual focus on them. Hey, he wants to prove family’s important, maybe talk to Gus about flunking out of everything ever. I love that sad little crinkle between Marco’s brows, but Alma’s right to make him crawl a little further at least.
God, the camera angles and shot choices for this episode are amazing. I adored the uneasy shift between Sonya’s focused eyes to the sketch-artist’s rendition of the killer’s eyes. When Hank arrives, Sonya announces she’s hunted down the car owner just from a few digits of a partial VIN: Jack Childress, who lives out in the desert. Looks like we have our first actual suspect for the role of Bridge Butcher, folks.
Post-cunnilingus with Graciela, Ray snorkels in Charlotte’s pool because he was “fixing the drain” (I’m sorry, that’s hilarious). Charlotte’s legs frame the shot of him in the pool, reminding us that Ray Is For Sex And Nothing More, even if dopey criminal-plan hatching Ray hasn’t figured that out yet.
Sonya and Marco arrive at Childress’s trailer to find a ton of guns and ammo, a bathtub filled with prescription meds that should obviously be in Childress’s gullet, a whole treatise on how Mexicans aren’t just illegal aliens but actual outer-space aliens, and wow, Childress is just full of crazy. Marco wants to call in a task force to Childress’s; Sonya only wants Hank, because the last few times “he was listening” (i.e., the killer clued in when the authorities were alerted).
Alma’s decided the best remedy for Marco’s affair(s) is hopping into bed with her nebbish-y colleague. Pfftt, he wants to wait until after she’s divorced, even though Alma has her come-hither bed-pat in motion. We see the reflection of them grappling in the hotel television screen before we shift to a reflection of Marco looking in the mirror at Childress’s place. It’s a fantastic double-play: yes, Alma’s cheating reflects back on Marco, but she’s also taking on his role without reflection of whether it’s actually what she wants.
Hey, Steven Linder is alive, if blood-vessel burst bruised in one eye! His contact who connects him to troubled girls who need rescue has a new assignment for him: talk some sense into her daughter, Sara Vega. Though Linder protests he’s not a messenger but a conduit, when Ramona cries, he’s all in, that mumble-mouthed person-transporting death-by-ironing perpetrating softie!
Wow, could Ramona’s daughter be in a worse situation? She’s playing adoring girlfriend to our own ruthless Juarez crime lord, Fausto Galvan, who puts out cigarettes on the head of his tailor when the man mentions he’s packed on a few pounds.
Outside, Linder grabs Sara, looking loco and mumbling she shouldn’t be scared. Great start! Sara goes from creeped out to indignant. “You’re my mother’s stupid gringo coyote,” Sara lashes out (she recognizes him from her quinceañera; Ramona obviously treats him like a family friend for helping her move young women over the border). Sara slams Linder with her purse and knocks him to the sidewalk. But like Linder, she’s a softie at heart, helping him up and telling him to run when Galvan’s car magically appears (perhaps he circles around looking to beat up on guys who glance at her).
Over at the El Paso Times, Frye is a D.T.-suffering pop-tart fumbling mess of a man. Adriana’s got a lead linking the killings to Childress (who the hell is feeding the reporters these barely-discovered tidbits?). Frye sends her off to cover the story alone, because “I don’t know if you noticed, but my brain ain’t right.” Eeep, he should seriously not be detoxing on his own.
Back at the trailer park, Cooper and Hank find Childress’s abandoned truck and meet up with Sonya and Marco to coordinate a search of the remaining trailers. Hank hands Marco a gun over Sonya’s objections.
Hey look, it’s Deputy Stokes! Who the hell called him about a truck in the middle of the road? Often turns up at key crisis times, doesn’t he? It would seem suspicious, but to me he’s such a harmless weirdo, and his oodles of enthusiasm are ridiculously endearing. “Time to shine,” he tells himself stalwartly, because he is a slightly creepy mostly comic go-getter.
Hank and Cooper gratuitously find a drugged out guy wearing only a sock over his junk while he jumps to dub-step.
“I’ll eat your face off,” the guy yowls, but then helpfully tips them off that Childress hides out at the vacant trailers at the north edge of park when he’s having a “crazy day.” Childress’s crazy must be a sight to see if naked dub-stepper thinks he’s nutso.
While Sonya tries to call Childress, Stokes makes Marco his pal, confiding he got his braces off just that morning and launching into his theory about the killer. There’s a fantastic and terrifying shift from the mundane to the horrifying as Stokes’s ramblings and Marco’s mild exasperation are interrupted by unexpected sniper fire (I gasped so hard I choked on my own spit), blowing out Stokes’s brains alllll over Marco’s face. Noooooooo, Deputy Stokes, that wacky and possibly suspicious merry creeper, we hardly knew ye!
The tension ratchets through the freaking roof of all the tin trailers simultaneously as Sonya, Marco, Hank and Cooper run like hell (Hank and Cooper dragging away Stokes’s body, in the military model of recovering one of their own). “White,” Childress says calmly to himself as he takes aim. “Brown.”
Holy cripes, but wait. Straight off, this doesn’t seem like the Bridge Butcher. Childress, with his cockamamie theories about Mexicans and obvious division of the small group into Caucasian and Mexican as he shoots, cannot be the person killing to expose flawed binaries and take aim at biased institutions and governments.
Sonya gets Childress on the phone to distract him while the others sneak to his house (where he’s relocated). “I. See. You,” he tells Sonya blandly, keeping his sights on her. The scene shifts back and forth as Sonya hides and then steps out to confront and engage Childress, while Hank and the others wait to see if Sonya can get him to surrender before raiding the house.
Childress walks a strange line, at times vocalizing sentiments the Bridge Butcher might express and agreeing that he’s killed people, while at other moments he makes enigmatic statements that only seem like the mutterings of a madman. Suddenly he steps out, and he and Sony train their guns on each other. When push comes to shove, they both fire, each falling backward from the blows. Sonya, wearing a Kevlar vest, is still terribly winded, and barely conscious by the time Hank runs to hold her in his arms (oh, all my father-daughter feels!).
“It’s over,” Marco says in relief when the paramedics arrive. We see a horrible indentation marking where the bullet hit Sonya’s chest. “Maybe,” she concedes, noting that Childress is clearly insane; she’s not so sure the man who planned this is crazy. My money is with Sonya on this one, though I think Marco and Hank and Cooper’s insistence that Childress must be the killer is understandable after this string of bewildering and horrific murders.
“Why’d you shoot?” Sonya asks bluntly as the medics prepare to transport Childress. “The job wasn’t done,” he says mildly (his calm is so ghastly and unnerving). “I meant to shoot the Mexican.” Okay, again, NOT THE BRIDGE BUTCHER, whose deadly drive seems to come from breaking down binaries and boundaries, not reinforcing the racial divisions.
Back at the ranch, Charlotte swings by to give Cesar a cut of the tunnel money (something Karl apparently never did). “Do you trust him?” Cesar asks about Ray — he clearly feels it’s a bad idea to put such a dangerous situation in the hands of our boy from Tampa. “Senor Karl had a way of controlling her,” he mentions of Graciela — so on the money, because Graciela has already proven where Ray is concerned, she’s the one in the (*ahem*) driver’s seat.
Cooper soothes his grief and confusion over Stokes’s violent death with drink and music. “Take a couple days,” advises Hank without needing any more information; as we know from last week and his experiences with Dobbs, Hank knows from trauma (and is like everyone’s dad, aww). Cooper wishes Sonya had shot Childress between the eyes: “I don’t see the problem with that,” he says, still shaken, when Hank mentions things like justice and trials. “Give it fifteen years,” Hank tells him kindly.
Okay, so I’ve seen theories around that Hank could be the killer, and to that I add my considered opinion: Noooooooooooo!
I love Hank too much, with his mentoring fatherly relationship with Sonya, his respectful inclusion of Marco, and his no-nonsense but caring way of getting things done. I really do doubt he’s the killer, even if the increasing emphasis that these deaths are coming from an authority figure is right. But yeah, mostly I just DO NOT WANT because of emotional attachment. D:
“Can I trust you?” Charlotte gasps as Ray pounds into her. Oh my god, Charlotte, TIME AND PLACE! Do you really think this is an excellent choice if you want a truthful answer and if you want to make an informed assessment? “Come inside me,” she moans as they screw atop Karl’s old desk (and she sees a photo of Karl reflected upside-down — you could do a fantastic critical paper on the use of reflections and mirrorings in this episode, I’m just saying to any of you interested media studies people out there).
“Of course I’ll help you file your story,” Frye tells Adrianna from the El Paso Times offices, where he’s looking sweaty and trembling. Despite Frye’s animosity even to Adriana, I love how he’s grudgingly but effectively taken her under his wing while she more than holds her own against his criticisms. I had to stop to note that, because, brace yourself: “No, I’m not going to the bar,” Frye protests to her question. “I’m gonna –” ARGH, NOOOO, Frye falls to the floor and convulses! He and Adriana are my second favorite friendship pairing, and I need him alive!
May I just take a moment to say that it is terribly dangerous for anyone to try to detox alone? Teachable moment done — now let me just say I hope to god we don’t lose the morally ambiguous story-driven hard-times Daniel Frye!
Back at Sonya’s apartment, the camera scans by another set of mementoes — in a mirror image to the photos of the family and kids and Marco’s place, here we see Sonya’s shrine to her dead sister. She looks at herself in the mirror, half in shadow, half in light, and grasps her neck with her hand, closing her eyes in pain. This may be the most vulnerable we’ve seen Sonya. It’s not only her painful injury and the blow of having her tough surface crack under the terrible circumstances she’s just undergone. It’s also the growing sense that, despite everyone else’s conviction, that they’re nowhere near as close to finding the Bridge Butcher than she hoped they would be by now.
THIS SHOW! We’ve had some site issues this week, so I’ve been holding on to this recap for a little bit, and it makes me even more eager to hear what you all think. Definitely join me in comments to discuss Marco and Sonya and Childress and poor lost Deputy Stokes!