The Bridge "Destino" Review: Down the Conejo Hole
For your listening jollies, here's Little Scream's "The Lamb," which was featured at the end of the episode. It'll open in a new tab so you can listen while reading.
Wow, I don't even know where to start. The Bridge, which has become one of television's most entertaining sideshows, turned in the best episode of its wacky first season not by making more sense than usual, but by taking all of its craziness and harnessing it into something unique. Seriously, The Bridge is almost Lynchian (yes, as in David); the series is so off-the-wall, yet it contains so much soul, and it leaves plenty open to interpretation. It isn't holding our hand like other shows tend to do. Instead, it cut our hand off, threw it out the window, and said, "Go find it!"
I always like to start the these reviews with a "This week, the killer..." But who knows what the killer was up to in "Destino." Maybe we caught him, but come on, we didn't. I certainly don't think that Jack Childress is guy who shut down the power at the border to drop off two halved bodies, and Sonya doesn't think so either. Childress was a nutjob, a man who wrote about Mexicans being aliens—and not illegal aliens, actual aliens! Our Bridge Butcher is an intelligent man with a purpose driving his despicable actions. Chalk this mistaken Childress lead up as more sleight-of-hand as The Bridge throws us off balance.
But unlike the series' past misdirections, the ramifications of catching Childress cut deep with regard to the cops involved. One of them lost his face. That sucked. And the others felt a sense of emptiness where there should have been satisfaction. Part of that comes from losing a cop; Deputy Stokes was "a moron but he didn't deserve this," Tim Cooper said of the departed, and he was bummed enough to pick up his banjo and drink brown liquor straight from the bottle. Part of it comes from the unknown, the uncertainty over whether they got the right guy. And to underscore everyone's discomfort, there were two quick, dialogue-free scenes at the end of the episode that said a lot.
In the first one, Marco was driving whoknowswhere with a look of dissatisfaction on his face, perhaps because he was upset over being "the Mexican" Childress wanted to kill, or maybe because he was in despair over the smoking ruins where his family life used to be. And in the second one, we started with a pan of Sonya's mini-shrine to her dead sister, then saw Sonya, fresh out of the shower, staring at her reflection in the mirror. The bruise from Childress's bullet was still ripe on her chest. She was frozen in place, and as she stood there shaking, her hand went to her throat, her eyes closed, and then the episode cut to black. Feel free to interpret that as you will, but the way I see it, Sonya has that incomplete feeling. That maybe they'll never catch this guy. That maybe she'll die in the process. The thought that she won't finish what she's started has become very real to her.
Both detectives' home lives are disastrous, and work is the only thing they have to judge themselves. Catching Childress wasn't exactly a failure, but it was a loss. Stokes is dead, the Bridge Butcher is almost certainly still out there, and Childress will be "beating off and knitting socks" instead of receiving any real justice. When you don't have family or friends to lean on when life sucks—and right now there's no proof that Marco and Sonya have either—you're only left with yourself and disappointment. And that's when lonely people are drawn together, for all you Sonya-Marco 'shippers out there.
Phew, glad we got that serious stuff out of the way, because "Destino" was also as weird as The Bridge has ever been, and the series is better for it. Though apprehending Childress may have been a dud of an afternoon for the cops, the
scenes leading up to the big showdown were a delight for us. We're talking
edge-of-your-lawn-chair tension mixed with unnecessarily strange
moments. The entire sequence in the trailer park probably held my attention more than anything else the show has done. It echoed the final pursuit of "Maria of the Desert," and demonstrated that The Bridge can do teeth-grinding action with the best of them. But let's talk about the weird. What the hell was that guy doing with a sock on his junk while playing dubstep in his trailer in the middle of the desert? Okay, the answer is bath salts. But does it matter? I don't know. Was it weird? Yes, yes it was. Forget what it looked like? Here you go.
And shortly after that, Stokes was talking to Marco about a daydream he'd had at the dentist's office, and it was almost as if the writers were unsatisfied with his chatter and decided to kill him on the spot. Because before he could finish his story, this:
It's been a while since television made me jump out of my chair, but I never expected Stokes' face to explode all over Marco. It was like one of those old cartoons where a mouse gives a cat an explosive cigar and he lights it up, except slightly more severe. Wow. This is another entry in The Bridge's pattern of killing people before they can join the main cast. Imagine getting your braces taken off in the morning (yay!) and then getting your face taken off later that afternoon (boo!). Talk about a bittersweet day. R.I.P., Stokes, give Heaven some hell while you're there.
So there was a naked guy on bath salts playing some dubstep and an unexpected face-exploding—big deal, right? Because the most bizarre moment of "Destino" happened before the credits even rolled. Graciela, who for some reason is still considering working with that idiot Ray on the tunnel, agreed to let Ray ship some big guns through the tunnel if he... I don't know how to say this, ummm, orally pleasured her? W-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-what!?!?!?!? Spit take, double take, take me away from this horrible image. Okay, one more look. Don't say I never did nothing for ya':
It looked like she was gonna loop that seatbelt around her wrist like she was Indiana Jones about to cut down a rope bridge and swing to safety. Yick! And check out Ray's face in response!
But getting into business with the cartel is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and Ray is a himbo, so what else was he going to do? However, the best part of the whole Ray situation was the incredible shot selection for the next scene Ray was in. This was pure genius by whoever came up with it. I'll just give credit to director Chris Fisher. The next time we saw Ray, he was wearing a snorkel mask. A snorkel mask. Even frat boys are blushing at that. But then we get this gorgeous shot to keep Ray's horrific, man-whoring ways fresh in our memories:
Take my money, you perverted camera genius! The direction and cinematography in "Destino" was top-notch from top-notch to bottom-notch, but this reminder of Ray's indecent cunnilingus on an old Mexican crime lord in the back of an SUV is the shot The Bridge should submit to the Emmys. Is it weird that I like Ray now, even though he's a dum-dum?
I certainly like him more than Charlotte, who's attached to the legs in that scene above. She thinks that if she hands over the operations of the business to Ray, out-of-sight-out-of-mind will take over, but everyone knows Ray is going to screw this up, right? Caesar does. In fact, Caesar is definitely the smartest person on this show. Caesar should take over the business. Caesar should take over the ranch. Heck, Caesar for mayor of El Paso! But Charlotte the slut is still a slave to male attention, and she's fully invested in Ray, if her request for Ray to cum inside her was any indication. She better be on the pill and not be trying to get pregnant, though given how stupid she is, I wouldn't be surprised.
After a painful week off without him, Linder came back! When we last saw him, wasn't Galvan about to take him for a ride after discovering that Linder was burying his henchman in a ditch? Well forget about that, because Linder is just fine. I guess Galvan was just giving him a ride back to town. If you try to make sense out of everything in this show, you'll just come away disappointed. Let's all pretend that Linder was never in the desert and never saw Galvan, okay?
This week, Linder met with the woman who tells him which Mexican girls to shepherd to the safety ranch, and the new target was her own daughter (who, I must say, is hotter than the sun). There was just one problem: She was Galvan's girlfriend AND she had no interest in going to the ranch! Small world, eh? I love Linder even though I only understand every third word that comes out of his chipmunk cheeks. And I got a huge kick out of watching him try to convince Galvan's girlfriend to go with him while she resisted. This was his face when he told her, "Don't be scared!"
It would be a lot easier not to be scared if you didn't make the scariest face ever, Linder! He looks like a vampire werewolf pedophile, of course she's going to swing her purse at his mug. And I liked that she felt sorry for him after making his nose bleed, but a voluntary departure was never going to happen. Linder waited for her to get about five feet away from Galvan's visual range, so obviously Galvan would come running down the street waving his gun. Run Linder, run! That's twice in two episodes that you've tempted Galvan. You'd best be smarter the next time, especially with the way this show likes to kill characters. But if Linder goes, I go. You hear me, The Bridge?
Only seven episodes in, The Bridge already has a reputation for meandering away from any sense of identy. The logline says the show is about finding a killer, but honestly I'm not even dying to know who the killer is. I'm just happy watching these side stories develop, and "collecting" all the weird little details that pop up. "Destino" managed to keep all of the show's eccentricities intact and give us something very real to think about. This was The Bridge at its oddly charming best.
THE BORDER BETWEEN THE STORY AND THE NOTES
– There were mirrors all over the place in the episode as the case became less about the killer and more of a reflection of the cops involved. Beautiful work by director Chris Fisher and the rest of the crew on this one.
– Not a whole lot of Daniel this week, but when we did check in with him, he was either dropping generic-brand Pop Tarts or having a seizure. It appears his sobriety isn't going so well.
– I see a lot of other critics taking this show very seriously. Sorry if you're putting up with my buffoonery, but I think the show's charm comes from its weirdness. This is closer to Twin Peaks than it is to Breaking Bad.
– Some people have theorized that Tim Cooper might be the killer, which is the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard. He's not the killer. No way. I don't think the killer is anyone we've met.
– Alma's reaction to Marco telling her that he slept over at Sonya's apartment was to have sex with her coworker. The behavior of the people on this show, even the supposed nice ones, is not very nice! Not very nice at all! But I did love the cut from the reflection of Alma about to have sex to Marco looking in the mirror. This one's on you Marco. This reflects back on YOU.
– Here's a tip for all you people in the service industry who have clients who are ruthless murderers: Don't say they gained weight! It's that simple. Keep your mouth shut, and you'll get paid handsomely. Mention their muffin top, and you will get a cigarette put out on top of your head. That tailor deserved his new burn scar.
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