The Bridge Season 2, Episode 4 “The Acorn”
Written by Patrick Somerville
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on FX
After spreading things out for three hours, “The Acorn” is the first episode of The Bridge’s season that begins to condense its story, connecting dots between Galvan, Eleanor, Marco, and everyone in between. For the first time, it feels like The Bridge has one large snowball rolling down hill gaining steam, not a dozen tiny ones bouncing around aimlessly without direction or momentum. I wouldn’t say it has completely solved it’s identity crisis just yet: but with a few brief, wildly effective scenes, “The Acorn” begins arranging the violent, allusion-heavy pieces on the table, and begins assembling its grand story for the season.
The best of these scenes come from those with the least “surprise” factor attached – both Marco and Charlotte enjoy wonderful little character arcs this episode, two characters who decide to jump off the fence they’re standing on, and finally choose a path to start walking down. Thematically, it connects them to Eleanor in a way: throughout the hour (and the season), all three of these characters have seen their lives in danger due to a lack of commitment (be it actual, or just perceived, as in Eleanor’s case) to their presumed loyalties. As always, the most compelling is Marco’s “rock and a hard place” dilemma, forced with keeping himself alive while kind-of-but-not-really working a case to stop men who murder children nearly the same age as his son’s (not to mention what they do to the daughters and sisters of Juarez, something we see in his eyes talking to Adriana).
Of course, he has the advantage of being one of the show’s cornerstone characters; when it comes to Eleanor’s goofy introduction to her humming, acorn-eating whatever-the-fuck-it-may-be-with-long-nails sitting in Fausto’s dungeon of terrors, it only works as a plot device to bring Fausto and Eleanor together and draw out their motivations. The closing scene of “The Acorn” goes about this in the most clumsy way possible, attempting to be unsettling and mysterious, all while delivering expository dialogue that serves its purpose, but makes the scene feel artificial and awkward (an in an episode with a bank CEO committing suicide in a parking lot, that’s saying quite a bit). Overall, I’m still not sold on the Eleanor character, and “The Acorn” doesn’t go a whole long way to solve it – which isn’t the case for the other female in a similar, uncertain position this episode, with Charlotte and Ray.
Charlotte’s a very interesting case in “The Acorn”: for the second time in the series (the first being the season one finale), The Bridge gives her character some much-needed agency. Watching her face fall as Ray described a “good life” in Alaska was one of the season’s best moments (paired with Marco’s realization of who the Clio CEO was, this was a great episode for reaction shots), and watching her push him aside for another opportunity at working with Fausto was one of the more intriguing things we’ve seen from her character, especially since she’s been pushed to the side at the beginning of this season. Is any of this business with Monty and Fausto connected to everything else going on? The sheer fact these events are being shown alongside each other is the only evidence so far to say they are: but with Charlotte becoming a stronger, more pro-active character, it could lead to much larger, more dramatically satisfying dividends when they inevitably fold into the larger plot later this season.
Outside of these three characters, “The Acorn” is a fairly predictable table-setting episode: the only other thing that sticks out is the still-weird interactions between Jack and Sonya, which seem to exist right now to suggest that Jack is disturbed like his now-dead brother (evidence? stealing a drawing of a bloodied body drawn by Jim attached to Sonya’s fridge) and that Sonya wants to be choked by the brother of her sister’s killer (as a way to “comfort” him after his brother’s death?). Like many of the show’s attempts to be shocking or unsettling, it just comes across as head-scratching: similar to Eleanor’s “no touching or I murder you” policy, Sonya’s un-conventional ways (and lack of human connection) is often played as major defining factor of her character, one which compromises the vision of these females the rest of the episode wants to portray. Sure, these two women can kick ass and get information from people while acting all detached – but what importance does any of this play to the plot at hand?
I just find it odd those undesirable traits have to be attached to female characters (Charlotte excluded, at least in this episode), while men get the easily-forgiven-and-forgotten material of alcoholism, philandering, and corruption of self. Unlike the males, these women can’t really “redeem” these things: they’re inherent in who they are, often defining characteristics of who they are. And on some level, it makes “The Acorn” hard to get into when it’s not focused on the bearded, leather-belt wearing crowd on The Bridge – which ultimately, is a bit of a disappointment, considering the potential squandered to show a trio of women remembering how to take the reins and be in control throughout the hour. It doesn’t ruin an otherwise entertaining, forward-thinking episode – but it certainly doesn’t do it any favors, and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth when we’re left with the reveal that Eleanor does it all for a caged animal (seriously: what the fuck?).