Previously on The Bridge: Sonya dismissed crazy Childress as the suspect and focused on a missing FBI agent Marco once knew. Both Graciela and Charlotte realized Ray just might not be the right man to run their tunnels. Ahem. And a random highbrow benefit became the place where EVERYTHING EVER we thought we knew about the Bridge Butcher was violently shaken (much like Daniel Frye’s detoxing brain).
This week again opens with a series-shaping flashback. “Kenneth Hastings”/David Tate pushes through a crowd to witness his dead wife and son pulled from their wrecked vehicle, viewing the horror through a prism of distorted lights on the bridge from Juarez to El Paso.
Jill Tate’s rose-bead necklace (the parts of which will become the killer’s calling card at the crime scenes) comes apart as Tate falls to his knees, crying out in anguish.
The entire scene reminds us Tate experienced a wrenching loss. But it’s impossible not to feel unmoored and disheartened as the light refractions signal not only Tate’s shattering sadness but a startling shift in point of view. We’re no longer scrutinizing the Bridge Butcher killings through the social justice lens the killer, the case, and the SHOW originally presented. Instead, we’re repositioned to learn a much narrower scope — a very personal heartbreak — made for the true origins and impetus of the string of murders.
Marco’s Captain ramps up Marco’s anxiety by telling him everything should have been solved by now, while Sonya presses Marco to reveal he never loved Jill Tate. Though he assumes David Tate never knew of the affair (they went to the funeral together, cripes), Sonya astutely points out Tate might know NOW. What if he hasn’t offed Marco because he’s planning something else? “My family,” Marco realizes and runs for the car.
In the middle of all the craziness, did Charlotte really think she could relax in her horse stable? Though I’m wrong about her finding Skeezemeister Ray strung up like another butchered and bleeding stud, she does stumble into Graciela, who’s there to put the hurt on her with a box-cutter over double-crossing Ray. Cesar shows up to shoot Graciela’s henchman, while Charlotte STABS GRACIELA THROUGH WITH A RAKE. That spiffy haircut has really given Charlotte a grisly new lease on life!
Gus runs into his funky texting flirt-partner Zina, who apparently never actually texted him. Looks like Tate wormed his way into the Ruiz family from multiple perspectives.
Marco rushes to his home with Sonya to find Alma and the girls gone. Whatever Tate is planning next for Marco’s family, “he won’t make mistakes,” Sonya remarks, completely missing how much Marco must believe his wife and daughters will be okay. Just then, Tate phones on Alma’s cell, playing the solicitious boyfriend and substitute dad on the scene while mocking Marco on the line and ominously squishing a beetle (in his post-tragedy murder-masterminding, Tate is always the windshield and never the bug).
Steven Linder heads to Pastor Bob’s farm to tell Eva he killed Hector; her upset reaction (she was in love with him) keeps him from confessing his romantic feelings for her. Then he heads off to enjoy a ham salad with Bob, who sympathizes at his recent hunger; Bob himself craved many a cheeseburger after his “first kill.” Um. What? At least amid all this “murderin’ makes you starved!” chatting we get a tiny follow-up to Fausto Galvan’s confrontation of Linder; Steven tells Bob how Galvan took the body away. And I guess that was that? It’s an odd resolution, and an unsatisfying one; I’d like to see where the hell these multiple threads connecting Linder to Galvan might go.
Tate and Alma watch her daughters play while he confides in her about his harsh reaction to his son’s death. He “still has that anger” (HE SURE DOES). Alma can’t imagine losing a child. “I hope you never do,” Tate croons, before pulling her away so he can take her to “the surprise” (the abandoned swings let us know, in case we got distracted, that NO GOOD can come of this surprise).
Sonya and Marco head back to the station with Gus. Marco’s vastly relieved Gus is okay; Hank further comforts him by immediately assuring him, “We’re going to get this guy and we’re going to get your wife and kids back.” Oh my god. HANK IS DEFINITELY INNOCENT! I was so caught up in the Hastings-is-Tate surprise (and the political-narrows-to-personal shock) of last week I didn’t take time to celebrate that! HANK!
At “Hastings’s” apartment, Tim Cooper shows Marco and Sonya Tate’s plottin’ room. It’s filled with drafting plans and logistical studies made use of in the killings so far, along with photos of his dead wife in a body bag and a framed shot of Marco and Tate. Just above the jar of rose beads, there’s a photo of an abandoned shack.
The photographed building shifts to reality as Tate drives up to the deserted shack with Alma and the girls. Tate sends the kids inside to look at his hamsters (conniving murderers like tiny fuzzy rodents?) and puts a hand over Alma’s eyes for the surprise so she misses how creepy this nearly bare house is. Though Alma’s clearly wary, she complies. So Tate hands her a LIVE GRENADE. She has to keep her hand on the lever or she and her daughters will die in five seconds. “Surprise!” Tate says, locking them in and grinning while Alma pleads with him not to go, OH MY GOD.
At the station, Gus has to shout to be heard over his father’s dismissals; finally he gets to confess he was texting “Zina” about the details of the case. Basically the killer’s/Tate’s magical understanding of exactly what the police were up to at all times, along with details like Gina’s location, was fed to him by Gus’s awkward text flirting. Though Sonya’s disarmed to read how much Gus wrote about her being a MILF though she’s not a mom (and ew, Gus, ew), she realizes Tate still doesn’t know Gus ran into the real Zina this morning. Hank texts “Zina” from Gus, and it’s on: they all rush to set up a sting for Tate.
You know, I remember wondering way back when Zina texted Gus why she was using the old chatspeak of the days before auto-correct! Typically only adults still use that shorthand they got used to before touch phones; it was a great early clue that “Zina” was a cover for someone else.
While back at the cabin, poor Alma hurriedly tries to fashion a jutting nail to act as pin for the grenade (she fails, and she and the girls panic more); Tate shows up to the sting and quickly spots the SWAT team watching him from rooftops. He writes a note for a waiter to hand to “Gus” (really an agent in a sweatshirt) and slips away. The scribble reveals GPS coordinates; Marco, Sonya, and Hank rush off to find Marco’s family.
Gus confides his guilt about Sonya’s death while Sonya sits next to the artist’s rendering of the killer’s eyes (cripes, those are a REALLY GOOD representation of Tate’s eyes). Weirdly, fake!Zina/Tate made Gus closer to his dad. “He gave good advice,” Gus says sadly while Sonya hints that she just might need to get back to work on this whole catching the serial killer endangering the entire Ruiz family thing, okie dokie?
“Could be rigged,” Hank calls out to Marco, who rushes at the shack as soon as the truck nears it, yelling for him to “go easy!” Despite his own advice, Hank smashes down the front door with a mallet BECAUSE HE’S AWESOME, enabling the little girls to run to safety and Marco to tell Alma not to be scared so he can try to save her. On a count of three, Marco takes the grenade from Alma, applying the same pressure before hurling it away; it explodes behind the shack while Alma weeps and Marco kisses and comforts her. I swear, that scene ratcheted up so much tension that my cats went from snoozing mode to a yowling chase that tore through the living room.
“They’re okay, your father has them,” Sonya tells Gus when she gets the all-clear call. She’ll take him to the safe house where Marco will meet them. Um. I feel like this rush to get to the safe house smoothed over the obvious point that Tate has been manipulating communications between people to get what he wants. And Sonya is so relieved — a family saved this time instead of torn asunder like Gina’s family or her own sister’s death — that she forgets what she told Marco earlier. Tate won’t make mistakes now. If Alma and the girls are alive, and Tate handed out their location as freely as one might a fortune cookie message, maybe he’s after something or someone else.
Charlotte watches Cesar digging a hole for the dead bodies and helps by kicking Alma down. “Should I?” she asks warily when Cesar asks if she plans to tell Ray. “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he says mildly. If only Charlotte had placed her trust in him from the start instead of bringing her man-toy into the scheme, we might say. And yet Cesar, despite rescuing Charlotte and providing basically the one stable presence in her life, is no hero; he’s still a part of the scheme to smuggle people, a partner to human trafficking.
What now, asks Charlotte. Welp, after Cesar douses the bodies with lime, “I’m going to take my wife out to see a movie and pretend none of this happened.” Smart. Also, cold. They’ll talk tomorrow about the tunnel, Charlotte tells him after thanking him. Yeah, she has no idea Fausto Galvan’s been using their tunnel OR that there’s that FBI agent using Tim as informant who’s presumably also is aware of the tunnel. Charlotte does pick up a little object, looking befuddled. Why, it’s the gun trafficking tracker Graciela found in the shipment! Yeah, things are about to go kablooey with the tunnel operation.
“So this is all about my dad,” Marco says guardedly as Sonya drives him to safety. He should ask Marco about all that, she says (and many points to Sonya for understanding, at a fairly tense moment, that she needs to withhold the truth she would typically reveal lickity-split to keep the matter between father and son). “It doesn’t make sense,” Gus muses. HOLY CRAP, A TRUCK SLAMS INTO THEM!
Gah, here we are almost full circle from Tate’s flashback of the devastation of his wife’s car at the start! We have Sonya as the “mother” and Gus as the “son” that Tate lost. Okay, obviously getting GUS alone, and probably even getting him in this fashion, with Sonya a party to the scene/a casualty of the “accident”, was Tate’s aim, NOT destroying Alma and the girls. This collision could well have been part of Tate’s plan all along; it so obviously reflects/refracts the circumstances of the original accident that spurred this series of murders. And while Marco obviously wants his marriage mended and cares for his daughters, his biggest emotional tie to a woman right now isn’t to Alma; it’s to Sonya.
I just. HOLY CRAP. Sonya’s truck is flipped over; she and Gus are unconscious and bleeding. Boots walk up through the shot — remember how all we used to see of the Bridge Butcher were his boots? — to reveal, YES, it’s Tate approaching the vehicle and cutting Gus out of his seat belt to drag him away. Sonya’s eyes flutter before she again loses consciousness; Tate’s license plate is in her line of sight, but will she remember it?
Please tune in with me next week for another episode of The Bridge, and join me for my recap right here at HDJM!