The Bridge Recap: When Heads Roll

Photo: FX
The Bridge
The Bridge
Episode Title
Maria of the Desert
Editor’s Rating

This week’s episode of The Bridge was the best one since the season premiere that first pulled us into this ugly, sordid, serial-killer-on-the-Mexican-U.S.-border mess. In addition to delivering a climatic, nail-biting final fifteen minutes, it provided clarity on some crucial matters, including Steven Linder’s activities and why, like most things, they lead back to Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. It also introduced new shades of gray involving the Wainwright tunnel and the increasingly conflicted Marco Ruiz. Honestly, I’m having a hard time knowing whom to fully trust on this show right now. If Rio hadn’t been so cruelly bumped off last week, I could probably have been convinced that horse was the serial killer.

But enough about horse murder. Let’s talk about jaw-dropping hypocrisy. Which is another way of saying: Let’s talk about Ralph Gedman, the FBI agent who insisted on dropping off the Bridge Butcher’s requested $1 million ransom in exchange for the innocent migrant Maria, who was still hung out, dried out, and dying live online in the middle of the Texas desert. While discussing this unconventional hostage situation, Agent Gedman noted that the killer’s actions have been an attempt to “inflame cultural sensitivities.” But when Sonya asked how Cristina Fuentes — the prostitute and bottom portion of the pieced-together corpse left on the Bridge of the Americas — fit into that agenda, Gedman hastily suggested she was just a practice kill. Nice try, Agent Soon-to-Be-Headless.

Thanks to the cell phone video the killer left for Gedman at Ray’s Roadhouse — you know, that bar where Gedman ordered a Diet Coke with lime, planned to drop off the loot, then wound up with his head in a duffel bag — it’s clear that Gedman took full advantage of Fuentes’s services. Perhaps that explains why the members of Fausto Galvan’s cartel were dumped in the same location where Fuentes’s body previously had been deposited. Maybe the feds wanted to cover up the actual circumstances surrounding her death by making it look like part of a larger, drug-related crime. Which, actually, positions Cristina as an ideal way to “inflame cultural sensitivities.” (It also explains why the killer wanted to know exactly which agents were involved in the drop-off.)

That threat Gedman directed at Daniel Frye — “When this is all over, I’m going to run you through the system and see what pops” — really drips with irony in retrospect, doesn’t it? Although, to be fair, if anyone does run Frye through “the system,” something probably will pop, since that guy has been so squirrelly and secretive about his connection to the serial killer. Maybe I’m just saying that because Matthew Lillard is such a convincingly messed-up asshole. (I genuinely mean that as a compliment, Matthew Lillard! I really enjoy your work on The Bridge.) Or maybe it’s because almost everyone on this show is hiding something.

That officially includes Marco Ruiz, who we now know is part of Fausto Galvan’s Verizon Friends and Family Network. To be fair, Marco didn’t seem happy to get that call from Galvan or to be forced into wheeling $1 million into El Paso Police headquarters. But Marco clearly feared what Galvan might do if he didn’t cooperate, so he brought back that suitcase full of ransom cash — a suitcase, by the way, that only seemed more suspicious when Marco said it came from a Mexican guy who owns a storage facility. “Oh, I just picked up the $1 million outside. Just now. From a wealthy Juárez gentlemen who regularly does business with hoarders and people trying to stash bodies in creepy, oversized lockers. Seriously, it’s fine.”

In case this wasn’t clear: Fausto Galvan didn’t care that Maria was twisting away in the sun, on the brink of death. He just wanted the police to stop crawling all over the place searching for her so he could safely continue moving his drugs across the border. Hey, you know what would also make that illegal process much easier? Access to Charlotte Wainwright’s tunnel, which is something Galvan likely won after threatening the Señora who previously threatened Charlotte, a.k.a. the Anti–Horse Whisperer.

All the individual threads in this knotty situation suggest that the strange relationship between Marco and Fausto will only intensify. Now that Marco has slept with Charlotte Wainwright, and Charlotte has returned Marco’s misplaced wallet to Kitty, who is soooo going to blab about that all over the office, it’s only a matter of time until Galvan realizes that he’s got access to a guy who has won the trust of the Tunnel Lady. As for Charlotte, who decided to do a soft-launch reopening of the tunnel because she enjoys remaining alive: that poor widow has no idea how much seriously scary mierda she’s about to get into.

With all this business going on behind the scenes, it’s a wonder that any lives are being saved. But they are, primarily thanks to two people: Steven Linder and Sonya Cross.

This week’s episode confirmed that Steven and his unsettling facial hair had nothing to do with the death of Eva Guerra. In fact, Eva’s very much alive. Steven drove her to a nice, Christian ranch owned by a man named Bob, played by Jon Gries, who’s also Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, as well as Ben Linus’s dad from Lost. And nothing bad can ever happen when you hang around with associates of Ben Linus! In all seriousness: Linder doesn’t seem responsible for killing any women. He’s trying to help them and asking for nothing in return but the occasional chaste beso. Why? What’s his motivation? It probably has something to do with that missing sister of his.

Coincidentally, Sonya Cross is also motivated by an absent sister. We still don’t know how Lisa died, but it was obvious again this week that her passing remains incredibly painful to Sonya, and that it made her take Maria’s case that much more personally. (By the way, that conversation between Sonya and Hank about visiting Lisa’s grave and trying to think a happy thought: Heartbreaking, and beautifully played by both Diane Kruger and Ted Levine.) It’s a good thing Sonya did take it so personally.

Because of her single-minded obsessiveness, Detective Cross did the one thing that everyone else in law enforcement— with their distractions, conflicted interests, and mysterious dealings — failed to do. She kept her eyes fixated on the woman in need. She stared at her for as long as it took. Then she found her and saved her from dying solely because of a man who insists that somehow, ridding the planet of even more females is making a really important point.