The Bridge, Season 1, Episode 8: “Vendetta”
Written by Fernanda Coppel
Directed by Norberto Barba
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX
More than halfway through its debut season, The Bridge has finally revealed its long-teased baddie and his dark intentions. Except that, after a substantial buildup of intriguing socio-political motivations, it seems that was all a smokescreen to lure Marco Ruiz north of the border so our villain could set into motion his far more personal, and far less interesting, revenge-fueled plan. With the various criminal factions at work so far this season, one could easily be forgiven for being confused after this reveal. There’s the immigrant- and now gun-smuggling group, who seem to have some connection one generation back with Marco, there’s the Beast, the nameless man or men slaughtering young women in Jaurez, there’s Jack Childress, who kidnapped Maria and tied her up in the desert (potentially? That one’s a little fuzzy), and now there’s David Tate, apparently the mastermind behind the dual killing of the pilot and much of this season’s main investigation. Intertwining cases are fun, and it’s a nice touch of reality to see more than one crime happening at once in a locale as corrupt and dangerous as these cities supposedly are, but by overprizing this episode’s reveal, the PtB have kept the viewers too much in the dark. It’ll take a lot of expo-dumping to get everyone up to speed.
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We open with a fun flashback to a fateful drunken outing of Daniel’s. Matthew Lillard has been one of the consistent highlights of the season thus far and with his connection to Tate, via Santi Jr., now revealed (or at least piquing the interest of Adriana, undoubtedly prompting some investigation by her in the coming weeks), hopefully he’ll get even more to do. Chris Browning is very memorable as Jack Childress in only a few short scenes, though nothing he has here matches his introduction last week. We’re presumably all but done with his character for the season; hopefully some casting agents are watching and Browning will turn up on more of the FX series.
There are several smaller, greatly appreciated character beats throughout the episode, from Marco’s frustration at the Juarez record woman’s support of Sonya’s theory about Tate to Ray’s interactions with Graziela, but the emotional highlight has to be Detective Cooper’s (Johnny Dowers’) frustrated outburst, referring to Sonya as their “village idiot savant”. The wordless reactions of Ted Levine’s Hank (protective anger) and Demian Bichir’s Marco (slightly more understanding disapproval) are great, as is Diane Kruger’s immediate stiffening and exit, later giving us Sonya’s touching moment with Gus. Cooper is playing the audience surrogate, though most viewers would probably be a bit less harsh, and it’s good to finally have someone address Sonya’s often difficult behavior.
The take-away mystery is Tate, but more interesting is how Steven got from a middle-of-nowhere confrontation with Fausto to nightmares back home in El Paso. Hopefully this arc will pay off- we’ve spent a lot of time with Steven for him to remain unconnected to our main storylines. Graziela’s next move after finding those trackers should also be interesting. It would seem Ray may not be long for The Bridge and if so, one imagines he’ll go out in an appropriately entertaining fashion. More poorly handled is Charlotte, who remains the least engaging, most thinly drawn character on the show. Given how much time we’re spending with her, we should know a lot about Charlotte, but she remains dimensionless and uninteresting.
With the reveal of Alma’s coworker Kenneth Hastings as David Tate, we get our answer for why Eric Lange was cast in such a tiny role. He makes the transition well and it should be fun to see him chew the scenery for the next few weeks as Marco’s self-styled Moriarty. The seeds for this twist were there, character-wise if not plot, so it’s not a huge stretch, but the show’s tonal shift will be far trickier to handle. We’ll see if they can pull it off.
What did you think of this episode? Did you appreciate the reveal? Anyone else start rooting a bit for Gus during his scene with Sonya? How many episodes are you giving Ray and Alma? Post your thoughts below!