The Bridge – Recap: No Answer
Recap and review of The Bridge – Season 1 Episode 6 – ID:
The world of The Bridge is a world of irreducible darkness. They possess the ability, and even the will, to change things, but stamping out the darkness is about so much more than simply having the desire or ability to do so. Sometimes the cops just can’t catch the killer, sometimes law enforcement just can’t find the evidence to prosecute a drug cartel, and sometimes a detective just can’t get to a victim in time to save her, no matter how badly the detective is invested in saving that life. But “ID” is about a lot more than the exploration of the dark recesses of even normal people, it’s an examination of interconnectedness, the points of relation between the characters in all exist in this irrepressibly grim environment.
The episode is a showcase for the talents of Diane Kruger, as she imbues Sonya with a far more wounded sensibility than she has in weeks past. This is because this is the first episode that most substantially ties her to another person, forcing her to make a connection or risk failing to crack the case. That person, of course, is Gina (Cole Bernstein), the teenager we met last week who is now a key witness in the investigation into the killer, as she’s supposedly seen his face. Unfortunately for Sonya, Gina is in such shock over the incident that she can barely recall much about the man beyond his eyes, which are eerily drawn by a police sketch artist. The drawing is left on Sonya’s desk, as if to haunt her and mock her inability to solve the rash of killings, and it clearly gets to her, as Sonya is a person who functions in concrete details. Thus, she’s frustrated when Gina’s memory doesn’t work the way she thinks it should. But there are far more similarities between the two women than differences, as we learn: Gina’s mother addicted to drugs just like Sonya’s, Sonya was close to Gina’s age when her sister was murdered, and Gina’s murdered father is revealed to be the psychiatrist whom Lt. Hank Wade (Ted Levine) visited after shooting the killer of Sonya’s sister, leaving him with permanent brain damage in the process. Hank regrets that, in shooting the killer, a man named Jim Dobbs (Brad William Henke), instead of taking the perp in as he should have, he essentially denied Sonya access to answers. Dobbs is barely functional, and is incapable of coherent speech. In essence, Sonya can never know why Dobbs did what he did, and she’s haunted by this in much the same way Gina is haunted by having seen the face of the killer. They’re two emotionally-tortured women from broken homes who have trouble connecting with others. It’s a poignant parallel that makes the episode the most resonant of the season.
The storyline also lets us in on why Sonya and Hank are so close: Hank took the murder case pretty hard, and took Sonya under her wing after she had to face the grim task of identifying her sister’s beaten, bruised body. In many ways, the mentorship he’s provided to Sonya over the years could be read as Hank’s atonement for having taken out vigilante justice on Dobbs, in addition to forcing a 15-year-old Sonya to identify her sister’s body. It’s clear that he still harbors some guilt about his actions all those years ago, and is doing his best to be a surrogate father figure to Sonya, trying to get her to open up and relate. But Sonya just can’t connect with Gina, even with all the similarities they share in their personal histories. Yet it isn’t as if Sonya lacks the ability to feel emotion of any kind, as evidenced by the climax, in which Gina is killed by “The Beast,” who was also responsible for murdering her father last week. As Sonya tries to get Gina to hold on, she gradually falls apart against the flood of emotions she’s experiencing. When Gina dies, Sonya practically breaks down in a panic attack, and it’s Kruger’s most gripping moment in the series, as her reaction felt as genuine as her grief was palpable. But what was surprising is in how she dealt with the aftermath. For comfort, it isn’t Hank to whom she turns, but Dobbs. She visits the institutionalized killer and sits with him while he scribbles his child-like drawings. Sonya cries in that moment, unable to find closure in any aspect of her life, whether it’s in the lack of answers over what prompted Dobbs to savagely murder her sister, or whether it’s her inability to solve the case, to learn why “La Bestia” murdered Gina and her dad. Sonya is someone who needs the kind of concrete data that only answers can provide. Closure can’t come any other way.
While the episode belongs mostly to Kruger, there are other interesting subplots worth mentioning. Marco (Demian Bichir) continues to deal with problems at home, as his son, Gus (Carlos Pratts), lashes out at him for his past affairs (Charlotte Millwright is hardly the first woman with whom Marco has had extramarital relations), while Alma (Catalina Sandino Moreno) has no desire to even speak with him, sending him on his way without a single soft word when he returns home to collect his things. These moments further flesh out Marco’s flaws, humanizing him by illustrating that while he’s a good cop, he’s not exactly a sterling example of honesty or fidelity. Take, for instance, his friendship with cartel kingpin Fausto Galvan (Ramon Franco). We learn that their connection is the result of a shared past: their fathers were business partners, and while Fausto decided to join up in the family business once he came of age, Marco decided to abandon the corruption and join law enforcement. Though Marco has largely been proven to be a good cop, questions remain about secrets he could potentially be keeping. Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) theorizes that Marco is covering up several murders for which Fausto is responsible.
The possibility of corrupt law enforcement has been an underlying issue throughout the series so far, and it becomes more pronounced here, as we learn that the killer may be a cop himself. He knew they had Gina, knew where she could be found, and even used a fake police vehicle. In certain respects, it makes sense to have Frye be suspicious of law enforcement, since they haven’t exactly shown themselves to be entirely useful in the investigation — not only would he have died had the bomb the killer placed in his car been real, but they failed to catch the killer when he was in the warehouse two weeks ago. They even failed to recognize that one of their own was connected with murdered prostitute Cristina Fuentes, a tidbit that would have clued them in to what a bad idea it was to allow Agent Gedman to make the cash drop-off two episodes ago. It’s a dramatically-satisfying way to rope Frye back into the main story with the rest of the ensemble, as he’s mostly been off with Adriana (Emily Rios), with the two investigating the case on their own. That is, when he isn’t trying to get clean by disposing of all the alcohol and pills in his home. It’s clear that Frye is beginning to understand just how important it is for him to have a clear head, not just if he’s going to make this the story of his career, but if he’s actually going to live long enough to write it, between the threats presented by the killer and the cartel. Speaking of which, the Fausto storyline is also useful in pulling Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) back into the main story, as it’s revealed that Galvan’s cartel has been using her tunnel. This provides a wealth of interesting story opportunities that can go a long way in making Charlotte feel like more than just a needless distraction from the search for the killer.
“ID” is a character-driven hour of TV that doesn’t skimp on the insight into the overarching mystery at the heart of the series. We still have a killer (or possibly two, if the Bridge Killer and La Bestia are two separate entities) out there, and it’s fascinating to see how the strains of a difficult investigation can rattle even the most hardened crime busters.