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The Bridge, Ep. 1.09: “The Beetle” solidifies good ole fashioned revenge plot

The Bridge, Ep. 1.09: “The Beetle” solidifies good ole fashioned revenge plot


The Bridge, Season 1, Episode 9: “The Beetle”
Written by Elwood Reid
Directed by Keith Gordon
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm EST on FX

Following the reveal of David Tate/Kenneth Hastings as the mastermind behind most of the killings in Sonya and Marco’s main investigation in “Vendetta,” “The Beetle” addresses audience confusion and explores the character and vengeful plot of Kenneth Hastings. David Tate, as he was known them, was an FBI agent who had tried and failed to work with Marco to investigate the innumerable, uninvestigated murders in Juarez. This is the cause that he has been highlighting in his murders so far, but “The Beetle” would have us see those killings and their accompanying social and political statements as mere distractions from his real plan: torture Marco Ruiz for the death of Tate’s wife and son. And this is the true disappointment of The Bridge. The show sold itself as a drama that would highlight tensions surrounding immigration and give us a killer whose twisted moral code sought to expose racism and privilege in the killing of countless people. The series began by exploring these broad intellectual themes of the blatant inequality along the Mexico-America border but has now proven to be just a complex personal revenge plot, albeit an intriguing one. Considering what the show could have been, this is a big letdown.

Hastings’ plan is to make Marco feel the pain of losing a wife and child, and his long-term plot has been in motion for quite a while. Hastings set himself up so that he could work with Alma and, at the right time, be there for Alma when Marco strayed. Here, we see Hastings continuing his fake romance with Alma, taking her and her little girls to the park. They’re almost like a normal, happy family, except when Hastings starts smashing beetles and calling Marco to gloat. But Elwood Reid also makes sure to humanize this deranged killer, having him open up about his experience after the death of his son: “I was mad at the world. I’d see happy families on the street and wish bad things on them. I still have that anger, work on it every day.” What’s striking about this statement is that it’s actually the truth, and it helps to make him a sympathetic person, rather than simply a cold-hearted killer. No scene captures this better than the 3-minute opening flashback to the crash that killed Tate’s wife and son. Eric Lange’s performance is absolutely excruciating, and the use of dissolves and muted sound successfully heighten his feeling of despair. Despite the number of people he has killed and his elaborate plot against Marco, this episode wants us to know that he is still a father and husband who has lost everything, and that begs sympathy from the audience.

Until, of course, he takes Alma and the girls out to the desert, locks them in a cabin, and leaves Alma desperately holding onto a grenade with the pin removed. Remember, everything – even his emotional openness – is part of the plan. The scene is terrific. Hastings is disturbingly calm, and there is no way out for Alma. It’s just a pity that Catalina Sandino Moreno’s shining moment is in a dimly lit cabin. But she expertly navigates the debilitating fear of her situation until Marco conveniently saves the day, thanks to Hastings’ GPS coordinates. Now, whether or not Hastings meant for Alma and the girls to die or just be a distraction is unclear, but his next target is Gus.


What may have initially seemed like every day texting between Gus and his ex, Zina, is now a gaping hole in Sonya and Marco’s investigation, as “Zina” is revealed to have been Hastings all along and conveniently learned a lot about the progress of the case “because she said she was interested.” What makes these interactions intriguing, though, is that Gus admits, “He made me closer to my dad. When we were chatting…He gave good advice. When I told him how I was feeling about my father.” Clearly, Hastings’ cruel plan was to bring a father and son closer together, only to pull them apart all the more violently in the end. And that’s just what he does. In a scene that perfectly parallels the opening car crash, Hastings rams into Sonya’s truck and takes Gus. But is Hastings’ ultimate revenge only a son for a son?

Other characters on the periphery this episode are Charlotte and Linder. Charlotte has somehow managed to find herself more or less in control of her tunnel to Juarez, after running Graciela through with a pitchfork. She remains a largely uninteresting and poorly drawn character, but if she takes a hint and leaves town, she may have a happy ending. There will most certainly be repercussions for Graciela’s death, and the most likely target will be Ray (thanks to his FBI transmitter fiasco) if the Feds don’t get to him first. Linder had very little to do in “The Beetle” aside from seeking advice from Pastor Bob about his feelings for Eva. It’s still not clear where he stands with Galvan, since we skipped from Galvan taking Hector’s body to Linder dreaming about Pastor Bob’s new ward and feeling the pangs of his first kill. Whether or not Pastor Bob’s ham salad helps, who knows, but hopefully Linder will finally tie into the rest of the plot before the series’ end.

After burying Graciela and her henchman, Cesar announces, “I’m gonna take my wife out to see a movie and pretend none of this happened.” Marco, on the other hand, doesn’t have the luxury of forgetting. He and his family is still very much in danger, and Hastings is moving forward with his vengeful plot to make Marco experience a despair equal to what he felt on the bridge six years ago. Even after a disappointing reveal, The Bridge is still gripping and full of potential. It’s just a matter of making this revenge plot worth all the trouble we’ve gone to within the next four episodes.

– Katherine Springer