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The Bridge Recap: Skulls and Boning

THE BRIDGE - "Calaca" - Episode 2 (Airs, Wednesday, July 17, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (L-R) Ted Levine as Lt. Hank Wade, Demian Bichir as Marco Ruiz, Diane Kruger as Sonya Cross.

The Bridge once again lived up to its TV-MA rating this week, delivering a second episode that contained graphic violence (photos of previously killed cartel members, Mexicans murdered while trying to cross the border, implaled coyotes); explicit sexual activity (damn, Sonya!); and crude, indecent language (journalists like Daniel Frye have such terrible potty mouths).

The episode was called Calaca, named for those decorative skeletons most often associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead and that appeared multiple times in this chapter of the story. In keeping with the themes of The Bridge, the calaca can symbolize different things, depending on which side of the border one calls home. To many Mexicans -- especially those who are tired and parched enough to believe in desert miracles -- it conveys all the joy of El Día de Los Muertos, the holiday that celebrates the memory of people who have perished. But to most Americans, grinning skulls represent nothing but grim death, especially if you’re Annabeth Gish and you see one in that creepy tunnel that your recently deceased husband never bothered to mention. Once again, The Bridge serves as a reminder that the cultural divide between these two countries is wide, and can’t be crossed simply by getting waved through customs.

Since she just came up, let’s focus this recap first on Gish’s Charlotte, who discovered that the super-secret door beneath the super-secret cabin on her ranch did not lead to the hatch from Lost but instead, to a passageway between Mexico and Texas. Cesar the ranch hand confirmed that the calaca-and-candle altar Charlotte spotted was indeed set up there because “Somebody died,” adding: “There was an accident.” Okay, technically, that’s possible, but so far on this show, no death seems accidental. So I’m not buying it.

It seems more than fair to assume that Charlotte’s husband Karl was receiving under-the-table payments to keep that portal between south and north open. It also seems fair to assume, as I did in last week’s recap, that he may have been directly involved in human or drug trafficking. It’s interesting that he said he wanted a divorce from Charlotte right before he died; he said he didn’t love her, but maybe he was just trying to protect her from being connected to his misdeeds

And speaking of misdeeds … hi, Lyle Lovett, mysterious, shady attorney who has suddenly sauntered into Charlotte’s life with the most unconventional three bean salad in history! (Must be an old family recipe: just mix stacks of cash, cover casserole dish and serve.) As Monty P. Flagman, Esquire, Lovett made it clear that, on behalf of an unnamed client, he’ll continue to pay Charlotte to keep that tunnel open. Who’s the client? We still don’t know yet. What I do know is that tonight I shall dream of Monty P. Flagman and Saul Goodman getting together to talk shop over a three bean salad with actual beans in it.

With more than a few questions still unanswered in the Millright plot thread, we turn to The Bridge’s main investigation, into the Frankensteined homicides of Judge Lorraine Gates and Cristina Fuentes. Here’s what we learned about all that this week:

1. The body of Cristina Fuentes was originally dumped in the same house where, a month later, the corpses of 22 members of Fausto Galvan’s cartel also were deposited. Actually, make that 23, since Galvan’s brother, Rafa, was thrown in there, too, but erased from police evidence. You see, smooth-talking Capitán Alejandro Rojas -- who enters the room with the timing of a Mexican Squiggy -- doesn’t want Americans to know about that inconvenient corpse. Perhaps because he has an “understanding” with Fausto Galvan? While the nature of the relationship between cop and possible drug lord is not yet clear, the reveal of the cartel-related murders did illuminate the distinction between doing police work in El Paso and doing it in Juárez, where properly recording evidence sometimes carries the threat of potential execution. The reference to Fausto Galvan also may have reminded some viewers of the very real arrest earlier this week of Zeta crime boss Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales. We don’t know much about Galvan right now, but perhaps the fictional bad guy and the real one share some things in common.

2. Detectives Sonya Cross and Marco Ruiz also learned that the voice mail recorded by the serial killer -- and now shared to the wider world by those pesky journalists at the El Paso Times -- was made three years ago by a voiceover actor. Which suggests the killer has been planning these maneuvers for quite some time and, possibly, that he really appreciated that guy’s portrayal of Falstaff. This information was also a little confusing since the killer called Matthew Lillard’s Daniel Frye again, using kind of the same voice, which, ironically, sounds a lot like the voice assumed by the killer in another Lillard project: Scream.

3. Ruiz took a field trip to hooker town and confirmed that Cristina Fuentes had been working as a prostitute. The fact that she and the cartel members both wound up resting in non-peace in the same location seems less and less coincidental.

4. Cross and Ruiz also discovered that, like all union-card-carrying serial killers, this one leaves a signature item at every scene: a single, silver bead. One of those beads showed up at the location of his latest crime: the desert spot where nine immigrants drank some sort of poison left out in the sun, apparently (maybe) left there to keep them from entering the U.S.

So far, nothing has prompted our detectives to investigate Steven Linder (Thomas M. Wright), but Crazy Sideburns Guy (CSG) has attracted the attention of a sleazy dude who apparently had other plans for Eva Guerra, the woman Steven kidnapped, and who also had no qualms about bumping off Steven’s nosy neighbor. Show of hands: who still thinks Steven’s seemingly obvious identity as the serial killer is just a red herring? I do since I said so last week, but am a little concerned about the fact that it really seemed like he was setting fire to Guerra’s dismembered remains. He did hang on to her cell phone, though, so: maybe not?

Now I’d like to discuss more about Daniel Frye and why the serial killer has targeted him -- duh, because he’s a reporter who will spread his message -- but this recap has already stretched on longer than a back-up on the Bridge of the Americas and I really need to start talking about sex. Specifically, Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) having sex.

During a key sequence in this episode, Sonya was planning to settle in for another hot night of ramen noodles and staring at gory evidence photos when she realized she needed to pay some attention to what’s happening south of the border. (No, not that border, for once. Her lady border.) So she went to a bar and, in keeping with her Asperger tendencies, used the blunt pick-up line that most guys dream their whole lives of hearing: “You want to have sex with me? We could go back to my place.” No small talk. No need to pay for drinks. Just wam, bam, just the sex, ma’am. Then: back to work. So efficient.

I can believe that Sonya would take this no-nonsense, emotionless approach to sex. That’s very much in keeping with what we know about her so far. It’s harder for me to believe that she’d so readily take home any old guy from a bar, especially given what she’s probably seen in her police career. But I’m even willing to let that slide, even though she picked up Colin Robbins from 90210 (Jason Wiles), and that guy had a huge cocaine problem.

What’s harder to believe is that she would so openly peruse evidence, post-coitus, in the guy’s presence. After establishing herself as a strict rule follower and chastising Ruiz for not filing evidence properly, it seems like she’d be a little more meticulous and, say, not flash her iPad corpse shots all over the place. But maybe she and Ruiz are more alike than she knows.

After all, while Sonya was taking a work break to pick up a dude, Marco was working in a place where woman do nothing but lure in men. And while Sonya was getting hot and heavy with Bar Guy, Marco was discovering that -- despite his recent vasectomy -- his wife is pregnant with another child. At least from a sexual narrative perspective, Sonya and Marco … well, they really do complete each other.

Photo: FX