The Bridge Season 2, Episode 11 “Beholder”
Written by Mauricio Katz & Evan Wright
Directed by John Dahl
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on FX
With Nacht’s disturbing behavior finally on the sidelines, “Beholder” doesn’t waste any time getting to the point of The Bridge‘s second season – and thanks to the slow burn of the season’s first half of episodes, allows these increasingly dramatic situations to be filled with characters we’re invested in. Marco and Sonya are a given, but did one expect to feel such remorse for characters like Adrianna or Fausto? “Beholder” is an hour consumed by the idea of tragedy: coming to terms with it, trying to avoid it, accepting it as one’s fate or defining characteristic – and with each character taking a long look at what they’ve lost and how it’s changed who they are, “Beholder” delivers one of the show’s strongest hours.
It’s all highlighted by Eleanor’s conversation in the El Paso interrogation room with Sonya, a scene that draws parallels between two strong, resourceful women damaged by their childhoods (rape and drug addiction/murder of a child, respectively), reshaped by their darkest experiences into something that doesn’t fit neatly into any particular box, be it “cartel fixer” or “police officer”. Each and every character of The Bridge is complicated, all dealing with experiences they can’t seem to let go – like Eva, whose romantic afternoon with Linder is undercut by the terror of remembering her rape at the hands of Robles and his cronies (the entire reason the two are out on the road together exacting vengeance). And not only does “Beholder” make clear the emotional threads bringing these characters together, it makes clear the narrative ones, something earlier episodes, with their character pieces and flash-forwards and heavy allusion, weren’t striving to do.
It makes for a much smoother, unified experience: even Linder and Eva feel like they’re back in the orbit of the show, the journey of the Lost Girl and Man bringing them to Robles, a man whose career is falling apart right next to Galvan’s. With Charlotte (and presumably Ray? Who ever knows with that guy) out of the picture, “Beholder” pushes characters closer together and gives the entire season focus (well… except for the whole Jack Dobbs scene, though her mother’s presence helps a little), zeroing in on Galvan’s compound, the sad, final days of his reign, and Agent Buckley, the CIA operative at the center of the inter-organizational, multi-country war that it all has become.
Admittedly, it’s a long way from a border bridge with two dead bodies chopped up on either side, sure, but The Bridge has really been building to this from the beginning, even when it was a serial killer show: the show’s always been concerned with the idea of corruption, be it spiritual or political, on either side of the border. Marco’s philandering, Galvan’s drug trade, Cerisola’s unchecked ambitions… all of these things carry extreme consequences, consequences that can only be disguised by one’s reputation – or as an intelligent Mexican official points out to Marco and Sonya, by throwing the seal of “patriotism” and “protecting freedom” on the front of it. At some point, we’re all trying to cover up something that’s festering within ourselves; “Beholder” simply aligns all these broken people on the same plane, and lets the symmetry of their personal shortcomings and traumas speak for itself.
And the story it tells is beautifully tragic (and given the opening ransom video scene, darkly comic): “Beholder” is not an episode that revels in the impending defeat of Fausto’s evil – how can one, when it’s obvious that another is going to continue on in its place, with the guiding hand of the United States government massaging it into (and out of, when the time is right) power. That’s the real, deep-seeded evil of The Bridge‘s second season – dishonesty with self is what corrupts us beyond all hope, a lesson Marco learned with the death of his son, and one Sonya’s witnessing with the American government hiding behind its self-righteousness as it allows the slaughter of innocent children on its own home soil, all in the name of money (as we can only assume this eventually leads; remember that money house from season one?). At least the Mexican government is openly corrupt, the Mexican official reminds Sonya and Marco; and in that moment, the many moving pieces of The Bridge‘s second season began to fall into place, a fantastic set-up for what looks to be a dramatic climax to one of 2014’s most improved shows.