We need an easel, a ton of photographs, some Post-it notes, and a whole lot of thumb tacks. That feels like the only way to make sense of all the character interconnectedness revealed on this week’s episode of The Bridge: to do this thing El Paso PD–style.
Unfortunately, easels don’t really work on the Internet, so we’re going to have to handle this in the more traditional format known as “recap prose.”
In this week’s Bridge installment, Jack Childress continued to seem like an overly convenient, not-quite-right candidate for Bridge Butcher status, despite the fact that police had him in custody and claimed they had found their killer. No one seemed terribly concerned about that, though, except, of course, Sonya, who is the official spokeswoman for the Not Letting Things Go Foundation. And it’s a good thing, because it was crazy-obvious that Childress wasn’t the killer, to the point where I think we should all start questioning how Hank Wade, Marco Ruiz, and Tim Cooper ever qualified to be law enforcement officials in the first place. (Yes, I know I contended last week that Marco must have played a role in orchestrating the setup that would implicate Childress as the serial killer. Breaking news alert: Based on this week’s episode, now I just think he’s a sloppy, ineffective detective with the sexiest whisper voice on planet Earth. I reserve the right to change my mind about this yet again in seven days or less. Also: Should we all be more suspicious of Hank’s involvement in all this?)
Anyway … convinced that Childress wasn’t up on his Bridge Butcher trivia, Sonya continued to doggedly look through folders filled with paper and think really hard until — ta da! — a connection emerged. She realized that a former FBI agent named David Tate previously took some of Childress’s key writings, was once partners with ultimately decapitated G-man Ralph Gedman and engaged in some sessions with slain psychiatrist Peter Meadows. “He’s our guy!” Sonya declared. “I knew David Tate,” Marco responded. “And he’s dead.” “Oh. Still our guy!” Sonya responded, holding firm to that belief even after she found out that David Tate had committed suicide (could have faked it!) and his body had been cremated at the police station (not properly ID’d!), and that the remains of a man named Kenneth Hasting had been found at Childress’s house.
That’s when Sonya pulled up Hasting’s current driver’s license, and then Marco looked at the photo and said, “That’s David Tate” and then they both realized that Tate wasn’t dead but had assumed the identity of Hasting and THEN we viewers realized that, holy Catalina Sandina Moreno, David Tate is the bald dude who’s been doing it with Alma, Marco’s wife, and is on a date with her right now. But that wasn’t even the end of the realizations. Oh no, people, just getting started, because after all that, we saw Tate slip away from Alma and kill again. This time, the victim was Santi Jr., host of that Biblioteca Sol party and apparently the driver who killed Tate’s wife and son in a hit-and-run accident in 2007. Tate left another bead on the body, which Marco examined and finally connected back to Jill, the dead wife of David Tate who was having an affair with Marco before she got killed in that accident.
That’s a lot to process. Marco couldn’t absorb it at all, which is why he immediately upchucked when that Jill Tate lightbulb flickered on, prompting Sonya to reprimand him. It’s fine to have a barf-piphany and everything, just don’t do it all over a fresh crime scene. I swear, Juárez cops: so sloppy.
Now, assuming our stomachs are all settled, let’s back up and piece all of this together.
So: After the death of Jill and his son in that car accident — which, notably, took place on the Bridge of the Americas — David Tate lost it completely. He got depressed. The FBI let him go. Presumably he felt betrayed by law enforcement officials on both sides of the border, the ones who fired him and the one in Juárez who stole his wife. So he faked his own death. Then, remembering that Kenneth Hasting had gotten offed back in 2006, he picked up that identity and ran with it, all the while putting his serial killing scheme in place. He also started working with Alma at El Paso State University and, very slowly, circling in to exact his revenge: taking away Marco’s wife the same way that, indirectly, Marco took away his.
That all makes sense, except for a few issues of logic, most notabe: Wouldn’t someone have recognized David Tate as David Tate by now? He was seemingly living out in the open, in the same area where he would have potentially crossed paths with people who might recognize him. Including people like, I don’t know, Marco Ruiz. Did Marco never meet any of Alma’s colleagues? Did she never come in contact with David when he and Marco worked together? Honestly, I’m having a hard time swallowing all that, and not in a I’m-going-to-spit-up-like-Marco kind of way.
Now let’s talk about how Daniel Frye fits into all this. In the flashback that opened the episode, we saw Daniel and Santi Jr. at a strip club six years ago. Daniel being Daniel, he naturally was snorting coke with no pants on and left the place wearing a pair that didn’t have his passport in them. Santi Jr. planned to cross the border really quick to get more drugs, and Daniel stayed behind to supposedly retrieve his passport. But then the El Paso Times reporter just strolled away, as if he had ditched Santi Jr. purposely, perhaps because Daniel just didn’t want to go to Mexico, or because he was setting up Santi to get nabbed by the feds once he got those drugs, or because he was doing some undercover investigative journalism. But of course, when Frye’s suave amigo zoomed off, he wound up killing Jill Tate and her little boy. Which would explain why David Tate has been focusing his calls on Frye.
So now we have the answer to the question Frye raised last week about Childress: “What’s the connection between him and Gedman or Marco Ruiz, Body 23 or me, even?” Tate, the real killer, is connected to all of them. It seems fair to assume Tate killed Cristina Fuentes and that judge because the judge represented the American legal system (which betrayed Tate) and Fuentes represented a woman engaging in promiscuous behavior down in Juárez, like Tate’s wife. Maybe?
A few more lingering questions before I cede the floor to the commenters:
* Why did Daniel, now recovered from his seizure, send Ariana to that Biblioteca Sol gala? Was he just trying to avoid Santi Jr., or did he suspect something might go down and he wanted her to be on the scene to witness it?
* Will the sidebar plotlines — the business with Linder, who’s now decided to make himself disappear, and Charlotte’s sex-idiot boyfriend, who has definitely stirred up trouble by giving Graciela transmitter-filled guns — ever connect back to the central narrative?
* Did anyone else just now realize that Tim from Tampa is Patrick Swayze’s brother, Don Swayze? I feel deep shame for not recognizing this earlier.
* How much time does Alma Ruiz have before Tate tries to kill her? My best guess is maybe fifteen minutes. Tate left the largest bead on Santi Jr.’s fresh corpse. He brazenly placed a bloody hand print on the mirror. The message is clear: The false identities are over. He wants the cops, especially Marco Ruiz, to know exactly who he is now. And he wants them to be paying attention to see what he does next.