The Bridge – Season Finale – Recap: Gone Girls
Recap and review of The Bridge – Season Finale – The Crazy Place:
I’m still having trouble processing my feelings about the season finale of The Bridge, a show that largely maintained a consistent level of quality throughout the season, even if the tone was often wildly uneven from week to week. The show seemed uncertain whether it wanted to be a white-knuckle thriller, a procedural, or a gritty, prestige crime drama. In many cases, it was all of those things. In other cases, none. But on those rare occasions where it picked one genre and stuck to it, the series was transcendent. This is all a very roundabout way of saying that while I liked “The Crazy Place,” I’m not sure it entirely worked as a season finale.
Actually, let me qualify that statement. It worked as a season finale in the HBO mold, where all the real action happens in the penultimate episode of the season, with the finale serving as a table-setting episode for the next season. This is less “Season 1, Episode 13″ and more “Season 2, Episode 0.” It’s a kind of prequel for what’s to come, while lingering a bit in the ashes of what came before, and while this makes for some fittingly dramatic television, I found the episode strangely ponderous — almost too ponderous for what the show seemed to be trying to achieve. Naturally, what the show seems to be going for is in setting up a series of questions to ponder for next season, and to present them in compelling fashion, so that we’re sufficiently hooked and willing to return. Let’s break those items down:
Millie Quintana: Mille is a 100-year-old woman who has been tasked with keeping watch over the money the cartel has made, an amount which numbers in the millions — in dollars and other denominations, including euros. However, Millie has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, and Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) and Adriana (Emily Rios) have taken it upon themselves to try and figure out what happened to her and why. This is the weakest of the various plotlines of the episode, but it still carries some merit for how it ties into what could be the main narrative of season two, a storyline carried over from these thirteen episodes: The Missing Girls of Juarez. As the episode comes to a close, Adriana meets with her distraught mother at a bus stop in a lonely neighborhood. Adriana learns that her sister never got on the bus, and now she is one of the countless missing girls whose families and loved ones populate the periphery of the story this week, to the consternation of the police chief in Juarez, who thinks the hopeful family members are better off leaving the police station and checking the morgue (to which his exasperated secretary, seen last week, states that the families have been keeping vigil at the morgue as well). Adriana is clearly distressed at what might have become of her sister, and only time will tell if it has anything to do with the Millie Quintana case, or if “The Beast” is still out there.
The Missing Girls of Juarez: However, no matter what the outcome, Sonya (Diane Kruger) is committed to seeing it through, despite the difference in jurisdiction between El Paso and Juarez. She essentially badgers Hank (Ted Levine) into allowing her to pursue the investigation into the missing girls, partially out of a sense of duty and principle, and presumably out of a desire to once again work with Marco (Demian Bichir), who may be back on the force, but who is still far removed from normalcy following the murder of Gus. And so the team works together to find the missing Eva (Stephanie Sigman), whom Linder (Thomas M. Wright) has still failed to find. As we inevitably discover, Eva was taken by corrupt law enforcement officials, and is near death in what appears to be a monastery, having been transported there by a sympathetic cop. When Sonya and Marco find her, she’s barely alive, but she’s saved just in the nick of time. And so the question then becomes, why was Eva taken and by whom, in particular? It’s a question that doesn’t seem to have a simply, clear-cut answer, and that complexity is likely to serve the narrative well, as will the characters populating those stories themselves, such as Linder. The mumble-mouthed Linder is silently devastated at what’s become of his “intended,” and visits her as she recuperates, holding her hand despite her condition making it unlikely she would even know he’s there. It’s a poignant storyline that opens the window for some meaningful interaction between Sonya and Marco, as the two partners have a discussion over drinks in Marco’s lonely home late that night.
Sonya pleads with Marco not to lose out to his grief, but it seems to be a plea that falls on deaf ears. Marco still has trouble reconciling how his son could be dead while David Tate is allowed to continue living. It’s just something that he can’t let go, and Bichir is tremendous in communicating Marco’s pain, which has scabbed over into outrage, with very little dialogue. Though Sonya is tentatively optimistic about Marco’s chances for recovery as she leaves, she doesn’t realize just how far gone he truly is. Marco, in reckless desperation, seeks out Fausto Galvan (Ramon Franco), and asks for help in having Tate killed. Galvan admits that it would be difficult to get to a man being kept in solitary, yet he admits he has men in prison who would be able to accomplish this task, and tells Marco all he needs to do is ask. However, Marco isn’t looking simply for blood. He wants to have contact with his vengeance, to have the blood on his hands more literally than figuratively. He accepts Galvan’s offer but says that he wants to kill Tate himself. Of course, this would probably require Marco going to prison, or Tate being moved to a different facility, providing a window of opportunity for Marco to have access to Tate. It’s uncertain just how Galvan will get Marco to Tate, but that’s not a question the finale tries to answer. Instead, the episode lingers on Marco, whose face grows increasingly mad with grief-stricken, rage-fueled intent. By the time the camera has focused on his unblinking eye, there’s no question of Marco’s resolve. Again, it’s a marvel of Bichir’s minimalist performance, as he gets a lot out of doing very little.
Charlotte Millwright: Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) is growing comfortably into her role as the new Graciela, forming an official partnership with Galvan, while finally putting her foot down with Ray (Brian Van Holt), who continues to be the tooliest tool that ever tooled. She also beefs up her partnership with trusted employee Cesar (Alejandro Patino), and hey, even Monty P. Flagman (Lyle Lovett) is back! Yet Charlotte faces troubles with her new business arrangement, as a mysterious figure apparently knows all about her tunnel. The man goes by the name Arliss Frome (Timothy Bottoms) and implies that he knows all about her criminal operations. However, in a maddening bit ambiguity, he refuses to reveal who he is or who he’s working for, in addition to keeping a tight lid on how he even knows all this info about Charlotte’s enterprise. This bit leaves me with hope that the storyline will expand and become far more substantial to the overall plot in season two than it was in this season, as it seems like the entire first season wasn’t so much to find points of interaction between Charlotte and the main plot, but to develop her character and her circumstances to set her up for just this point in the story, where she finally becomes relevant. Whichever direction the show opts to take, I have faith that the creative minds behind the show know what they’re doing.
Though ponderous, “The Crazy Place” is at least engaging enough to make it a worthwhile way to close out the season, even if not ideal. With the hit-or-miss thriller aspects comfortably in the rearview mirror, the show can now take a more incisive look at the politics of relations between the El Paso and Juarez jurisdictions, and the criminal elements that link both. The show is already anchored by some outstanding performances, and a stellar collection of creative talent behind the camera, so The Bridge is already headed into season two with a considerable advantage over other crime dramas.