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The Bridge Recap: Dialectics for Dollars

Clearly this recap needs to explore the concept of dialectics. And it will, very shortly. But first, this re-visitation of The Bridge episode called
"Rio" must raise an extremely important question that cannot be suppressed: Marco Ruiz, WHYYYY did you have to hook up with Charlotte Wainwright? (Or is it Wainright? The Bridge’s press kit spells her last name one way, her future tombstone spells it another. Guess that’s one more of this show’s — say the next word in your best Demian Bichir accent — mysteries.)

However she spells her last name, I can understand why Charlotte (Annabeth Gish) opted to fling herself at Marco. She’s still grieving. She’s constantly uncovering her late husband’s many secrets, which include, but probably are not limited to, his possession of a tunnel to Mexico and a relationship with Lyle Lovett. Meanwhile, Marco’s been so kind. And his voice is sexy. And maybe it’s a good thing to be involved with a police detective given all the weirdos who keep showing up uninvited at Charlotte’s ranch.

But Marco: God, I just don’t get it. Okay, his adulterous behavior didn’t come as a complete surprise. He blatantly flirts with his female colleagues … well, with the exception of Sonya, who’s impossible to flirt with because, you know: nuance. The point is, there’s a reason why his wife Alma calls so frequently and seems so jealous about his “muy bonita” new partner. The guy’s probably cheated before.

Nevertheless, it blew my mind that Marco didn’t hesitate — not even for a fraction of a portion of a millisecond — to start getting his Gish on, even though an affair with her could lead to blatantly disastrous personal and professional consequences. Yes, Charlotte is quite attractive. But Alma is pregnant. And Marco is trying to prove to the Attorney General of Mexico City that he wasn’t acting negligently when he let the Wainwrights’ ambulance pass through that crime scene on the Bridge of the Americas, a fact that will be harder to prove once it leaks out — and it will, this is only episode three — that he’s sleeping with the woman he helped, who’s now also connected to the case because of the ransom demand we’ll discuss roughly one paragraph from now. Dammit, Ruiz. I really don’t want to have to spend the rest of the season referring to you as Carlos Danger. But you are making it really hard not to do that right now.

It turns out that Sonya Cross was absolutely correct when she defended that ambulance-related complaint against Marco by noting that they “didn’t know” whether Karl Wainwright was involved in the murder case. The late Karl Wainwright is actually very much involved in the case thanks to that ransom demand alluded to earlier. This week the serial killer called his BFF Daniel Frye and said he would release Maria, the Mexican woman smart enough to avoid ricin-water but unlucky enough to be rescued by a man who turns corpses into jigsaw puzzles, in exchange for $1 million split evenly between four of the richest men in Texas. One of those men: Karl Wainwright.

The killer followed that ultimatum with his latest deep-throated, socially provocative question: “Who cares about one poor Mexican? Not the wealthy, the white. But if they have to see it, to feel it, to be responsible for letting her slip away: Will they care then?” The word he used to describe the strategy behind the threat, which also involved binding Maria in the desert, Christ-like, and allowing her slow demise to live-stream online like some horribly real snippet from Faces of Death: dialectics.

“I just Google-searched dialectics,” Lieutenant Hank Wade said after processing the killer’s conversation with Frye. “I still don’t know what it means.”

Some viewers were probably right there with you, Hank. Let’s not worry about delving into dialectics as it pertains to the Socratic method, or explaining the intricacies of dialectical materialism. Seriously, let’s not. It makes my head hurt. The key thing to know about dialectics within the context of The Bridge is that, as Sonya said, it involves the acknowledgement of two opposing forces — say, poor Mexican woman vs. wealthy American men — as a way to move toward resolving an issue. The issue in this case: immigration and the frightening things that are happening down south in Juárez.

The other thing to know about dialectics is that, as defined above, it’s basically the philosophy that governs this entire show. Mexico/America. Rich/poor. Judge Gates/Cristina Fuentes. Marco/Sonya. Daniel Frye/Adriana Mendez. There are opposing forces all over the place on The Bridge that, by season’s end, will hopefully join together as a symbol that larger cultural gaps can be transcended, too. But we’re not there yet. In the current moment, there’s still a killer to catch.

As of right now, the cops, as well as the classic, condescending FBI men attempting to take over the investigation, don’t have a solid suspect. Sonya and Marco finally took notice of Steven Linder thanks to the close proximity of his suspicious RV to the place where those nine immigrants gulped down that poisoned H20. But the only hard evidence against Steven at this point is that he burns women’s clothes and acts weird. Even in Texas, that’s not enough to merit an arrest. (Steven did confess that he’s searching for his sister, Marina, which seems to be true and also a possible explanation for his fixation with bringing women across the border.)

We also know that, according to Officer Cooper, the killer is not Sheriff’s Deputy Manny Stokes. Which makes sense since, based on his well-intentioned but clumsy attempt at police work, Manny Stokes is basically The Bridge’s version of Deputy Andy Brennan from Twin Peaks. (They even paired him up with a Cooper in this episode: Nice touch, Bridge writers!)

It seems fair to assume that the killer is not Sonya’s hookup from last week, either, especially since he showed up voluntarily at the police station to track her down, prompting this week’s entry in Shit That Sonya’s Inside Voice Says Out Loud: “What are you doing here? I can’t have sex at work.”

And while Daniel may not know who Mr. Dialectics is, it does seem like the reporter is hiding some crucial details regarding the killer’s decision to feed him information and borrow his car.

That’s all useful intel, but it still doesn’t get anyone closer to solving these murders. Meanwhile, a woman wastes away in the heat of the Chihuahuan Desert. More people die or disappear across the border. And, for reasons that remain equally murky, the battle over the Wainwright ranch tunnel has resulted in the unnecessary death of a horse named Rio.

The Wainwrights had nothing to do with the case? Oh, Marco Ruiz. It’s not clear how yet, but you’re obviously so, so wrong.