This post discusses plot points from the September 25 episode of The Bridge.
As creepy as David Tate’s nod to Marco in front of the courthouse was, it also came as a relief to see him nodding goodbye. What he’s done to the Mexican detective, and to our sense of The Bridge‘s potential, may always be with us. But it’s time to move on to other things, like Chief Robles’ complicity in the disappearance of Eva, and perhaps other young Mexican women, Adriana’s relationship with her family, Marco’s relationship with some beard trimmers, and Fausto Galvan’s relationship with his accountant. It took us eleven hours of television to get here, but I feel like we’re maybe finally done with the set-up, and ready to see what the freshly-renewed version of The Bridge actually looks at.
The two best sequences in the episode centered on the relationships that have been cemented by David Tate’s rampage across El Paso, and has been the case all season, the friendship between Adriana and Daniel remains much more interesting than the connection between Marco and Sonya, even counting Demian Bichir’s acting.
Even though Daniel’s using a wheelchair, it’s a lot of fun to see how far he and Adriana have come from their initial, hostile interactions. Where Daniel used to hector Adriana, and she would go as tight and prim as her bun in response to his provocations, now she’s poking back. It’s not that Adriana isn’t encouraging Daniel to return to work, just as she returned him to seek out AA. But the polarity between them has changed. “Life is short, and I’ve already wasted so much of mine. I don’t recommend it, by the way,” Daniel tells her, morosely, when she suggests he get back to the office. “Okay, Yoda,” Adriana deadpans him. And when Daniel teases her, telling her “You love me. You just want to have my babies,” Adriana’s willing to ditch him, a smile on her face, knowing that forcing Daniel to chase after her, one good arm and all, is the one thing that will get him to start pushing himself around.
In fact, it gets him all the way to Juarez, where he gets pulled, once again, into Adriana’s family conflicts. “You don’t want to marry a man in a chair,” Adriana’s mother tells her, pressing the issue, and ignoring that Adriana’s been taking care of herself and their household just fine. “You need a man who’ll take care of you.” But this time, Adriana’s inherited a bit of Daniel’s brashness. “I’m not getting married, Mom,” she tells her mother bluntly. “I’m not getting married, Mom, and you know it.” And it’s very funny to see Daniel try to play the peacemaker, suggesting “Why dont’ we get ice cream or something?” while Adriana stubbornly persists in blowing up the evening like Daniel would have in the past. “We can’t,” she tells him. “Because I date women. I’m an embarrassment to the family.”
But it’s revealing to see her gentleness with her sister Daniela, later. “I’m not smart like you,” Daniela tells Adriana, deflecting a question about whether her job is keeping her from school. And instead of snapping at Daniela when the younger girl tells Adriana hopefully “She says you can come back. If you change. Maybe go to church…and God can help,” Adriana acknowledges the Daniela’s unworldliness when she explains “Daniela. It has nothing to do with God.” The conversation ends in a stalemate, but it’s an illustration that Adriana’s patience and determination, whether applied to Daniel or her blood family, is an exceptional, quiet power.
The negotiation between Marco and Sonya’s less revealing. “I miss him,” Sonya tells Hank, who hails it as a sign of progress. But though she managed to make an extraordinary gesture, she’s struggling with how to get the ordinary one right, which is an especially hard lift given how deep Marco’s sunk, and how Saul Berenson-like his grief beard has grown. But it turns out she has enough little ideas: pastries, and making your bed, and eggs after hangovers, and giving Marco someone to need him again. She can’t replace Gus, the boy who brought her chocolates and who loved his father, but she can give Marco a small anchor, a way to give someone something, and to atone in the process. And when Celia comes to Marco’s house, it becomes clear that the need Sonya gave Marco to fulfill isn’t merely manufactures: knowing that Eva disappeared is eating Celia up, and Marco gives her someone to talk to and the promise that someone might actually look into it.
There’s something beautiful and terrible about the end of this episode, the image of Steven Linder and the woman he met at the wall full of flyers for missing girls probing the ground for freshly disturbed dirt that could be a grave, and expanding outwards to images of pink crosses, and other people doing the same thing. The Bridge has spent so much of its first season marinating in tragedy, to the exclusion of exploring the larger communities where those tragedies take place, and the communities that are created by the tragedy themselves. Now that its core relationships have been solidified, it would be wonderful if The Bridge could fulfill some of its early promise and focus more on the people probing the dirt than the people who might have put women beneath it.