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The Bridge Recap: Beasts of the Southern Border

THE BRIDGE - "The Beast" - Episode 5 (Airs, Wednesday, August 7, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Diane Kruger as Sonya Cross. CR: Byron Cohen/FX Network Diane Kruger in The Bridge

Fausto Galvan raised a legitimate question right up front in this week’s episode of The Bridge: Should he consider himself a serial killer? "I kill a lot of people," he pointed out to his right-hand man, who assured the jefe that he’s not a Mexican Dexter. Sure, Fausto Galvan kills people. But as the leader of a drug cartel, he's just doing it for work. "You're only a serial killer if you enjoy it," Galvan concluded, then, in a total Pulp Fiction moment, proceeded to fatally shoot a guy whose panicky confession led Galvan to Steven Linder.

Yes, the body count on The Bridge continues to grow, but this week, only one person seemed to have died at the hands of the serial killer: therapist Peter Meadows. (More on him and his daughter Gina later.) As noted, Galvan killed someone, and so did Linder, proving that the seemingly principled loner does have the capacity to shut down a life and dispose of the body, all while showing off his tighty-whities (thanks to Walter White, now the It undergarment for the nebbish-gone-bad). But does that make Linder the killer-killer, especially since Sonya and we, the audience, have pretty much ruled him out?

Marco Ruiz clearly isn't ready to say no to that question; Steven remains Suspect No. 1 on the detective's list. But greasy Steven's execution of greasy Hector was clearly unplanned and carried out to protect himself as well as Eva, Hector's girlfriend. That's one of the things that Galvan's personal assistant failed to note about serial killers: Their homicides usually involve patterns as well as multiple fatalities. By that standard, Linder — again, as far as we know — is a one-and-done kind of assassin, while Galvan is just your average, everyday mass murderer. Which makes it pretty troubling that he found his way to Steven by episode's end.

What else did we learn about the Bridge Butcher this week? According to Maria, who successfully won asylum in the U.S., the killer works in law enforcement, having picked her up on the side of the road in a car with a cage, not unlike a police car. ("Maybe he’s one of us," Sonya whispered. For the record, Linder's car has such no cage.) Meanwhile, Marco stole reporter Daniel Frye's cell phone because Ruiz: Justice Department :: Frye : The Associated Press. That enabled Sonya to take a call from Deep Throat the Lady Killer, who spoke of deceased FBI Agent Gedman's involvement with prostitute Cristina Fuentes, stating: "If I knew, others knew. Institutions know, and they ignore and protect." That, in turn, finally flipped on the light switch for Marco and Sonya who realized, Hey, the FBI is not letting us look at their files because they're trying to cover up something. Was it me, or did it take them an astonishingly long time to realize that when it was obvious last week, the second Gedman's decapitated head landed in a duffel bag?

Bottom line: The killer's identity remains a frustrating mystery for yet another week. But here are some things we do know:

• Marco is now homeless, because Alma tossed him out after Sonya announced that Marco left his wallet at Charlotte Wainwright's house, allowing Alma to rightly deduce that the two slept together after noting that his pockets are incapable of holding a wallet when the pants are removed. (Sonya Cross is the human equivalent of an Instagram hashtag: #nofilter.) We also learned that Marco's son Gustavo — who has the mega-hots for Sonya — is actually Marco's son from a previous marriage or relationship. This, paired with Gustavo commiserating with Alma about how his father always just does what he wants, suggests this perhaps isn't the first time Marco has been booted from his residence by an angry partner.

• To Marco's credit, he made it clear to Charlotte that he can't continue seeing her, especially after hearing her use phrases like "Graciela Rivera" and "Let her move these people through my land." But Charlotte knows she needs protecting, so she called a cheeseball, seashell-necklace-wearing former lover from Tampa (Cougar Town's Brian Van Holt) who has now assumed the role of Ranch Boy Toy/Bodyguard and, most likely, will be dead by episode seven.

• Sonya revealed to Marco that the childlike drawings on her refrigerator were created by Jim Dobbs, a brain-damaged man responsible for the death of her sister. Conclusion reached from this: Last week, when Sonya told Hank about visiting her sister's grave in lieu of going to see someone else, Jim must have been the "someone else" she intended to see. Is Jim a stepbrother? A person once in Sonya's care? Does she see a connection between his mental health issues and her own condition that amplifies her remorse over her sister's death and motivates her to serve as a professional killer-catcher? (Answers: Maybe, maybe, and probably, yeah.)

• Before we discuss Gina and Peter Meadows, I would like to encourage all The Bridge viewers to keep an eye on mustachioed Tim Cooper. I like his twang, I like his sass, and I like the way he refers to secretive G-men as "nut huggers." But there's something about him that makes me wary. Have you noticed how he's always hovering around the scenes, feeding crucial information to Sonya and Marco that, say, sends them right to Peter Meadows's house immediately after he got whacked? I'm not saying that Cooper is the Bridge Butcher. But I do wonder if he knows more about the case than he's openly sharing.

• Now, finally, on to the Meadows family. Initially, Gina seemed to be a random shoplifter, picked up by police and bailed out by her less-than-attentive dad. But it's clear now that there's more to it than that.

It seems doubtful that Gina was brought in to the El Paso Police Department purely because of suspected earring theft; more likely, some sneaky FBI agents and/or sneaky cops wanted to make sure Dad came to the station so they could tip him off about Gedman's death.

Peter Meadows was supposedly Gedman's therapist. But it seems very possible that he, too, was involved in some unsavory activity, which might explain his desire to keep his daughter away from his home, as well as why his throat got slit.

Gina — who narrowly avoided her own tragic situation after wandering down to Mexico (possibly to search for her MIA mom?) and almost becoming a human, trafficked — seems like another symbol of the Bridge Butcher's message about innocent victims overlooked by the powers that be. She's American, but like so many of the girls of Juárez, she's lost. And, also like so many girls of Juárez, she has been ignored by a U.S. authority figure: her father.

When Sonya and Marco found the trembling Gina after witnessing her father's murder, she said she had just seen The Beast, the name that Esmeralda — Gina's gutsy south-of-the-border savior — used to refer to those responsible for killing so many Mexican women. The Beast, Esmeralda said, could be one person or 100 people. So did Gina see the Bridge Butcher? Is the Bridge Butcher synonymous with The Beast?

Actually, maybe The Beast is just the best way to describe the evil that keep heartlessly deleting so many people from this beleaguered pocket of the planet between Mexico and Texas. Call it serial killing, or call it drug-related mass murder. Really, all of it is just beastly.

Photo: FX