The Bridge "Old Friends" Review: David Tate's Wheel O' Torture
I had a hunch—nay, a fear—that this day would come, but even though I was mentally prepared for it, I wasn't emotionally ready for the reality of it. This week, The Bridge went and did the worst possible thing it could have done. It aired an episode... without Linder. Noooooooooooooooooo! Mr. Velcro Cheeks took the hour off, and I hope he spent it learning the Lambada with chica bonita Ava at El Rancho for Incredibly Smoking Hot Ladies Who Are Running Away from Their Problems. And I'd rather have watched that than what we saw in "Old Friends," an episode that was more of the same psycho joy-ride we've been on for the last two episodes. Don't get me wrong, I just really, really want to see Linder Lambada.
If The Bridge wants to devolve into an exploration of one maniac as he tortures the man who gave his dead wife a rodgering, then we're on the right track and I'm in. But The Bridge had better go all the way with this by hitting the metaphorical carnival strength-testing hammer game full force until the bell explodes, because at this point, it can't go back to being what it was (or what we thought it was). I'm no longer watching The Bridge for the same reason I started watching The Bridge. You know, things like character development, statements on broken political systems, or the intriguing and tangled web of law enforcement, the press, and the public. No-siree. Now I'm watching to see what elaborate plan David Tate spent six years working on in order to get back at the guy who boned David's bored wife.
I can't recall the last time we saw any bit of enriching character growth for Marco or Sonya, but it certainly didn't take place within the last three hours of The Bridge. Sonya started off as a character with so much potential, a character we wanted to watch as she operated within her environment. And over the course of the first six episodes or so, Marco's true personality slowly emerged; he's a man who couldn't control his desires at the cost of his family. Now? They're just cops. Cops who are running around and chasing a bad guy. And they're not even great cops. (Need a great cop? See: Hank Schrader.) The border used to literally and figuratively divide two ways of life and the political ideologies that keep them a world apart. Now it's a non-factor. And the press via Daniel and Adriana that seemed so important early in the season? Well, they're attending AA meetings and gala library openings. Pardon me for still being so baffled at The Bridge's change in direction, but this show spun around faster than Matthew McConaughey after seeing a "No shoes, no shirt, no service" sign.
The Bridge is what it is now, and the intellectual roots of the show have been pulled up. But allow me to throw my sword in your direction and flex my abs, because I have something to say: "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?!?!?" Because I certainly am. The Bridge 2.0 is insani-balls, and there's always room in my life for a show like this because I live for putting my hands on the side of my face and screaming, "Whaaaaaaat!?!?"
In "Old Friends," David Tate had Gus—the real jewel in his crown of a revenge plan—and he set about his continued torment of Marco. David had his work cut out for him, because the locked cabin with the live grenade from last week set the psychopath bar pretty high. But I think he succeeded! It took the episode a while to get there, but David threw a tazed and confused (and duct-taped) Gus into a giant barrel lit only by a green glowstick, then rigged it to slowly fill up with water. That was pretty terrifying! Aquaphobia, claustrophobia, and ducttapeaphobia all in one! Looks like those six years of planning really paid off for David, because he's showing the type of twisted ingenuity that can only come from dedicated preparation.
Of course the brilliant trick here was that Marco didn't know where the barrel was, and if he wanted to find out he couldn't kill David. But Marco and Sonya had to find David first, and that brings us to that "not great cops" thing I was talking about earlier. Yes, they're doing their job and I'm sure they spent a lot of overtime sorting through paperwork, but let's review what they actually did during their hunt for David. Sonya remembered the license plate number from last week, they ran the plates, a random cop found the car in a cemetery, Sonya and Marco sorted through the car's glove compartment and found an old parking ticket, the ticket had the address of a nursing home on it, Sonya and Marco went to the nursing home, they found out that David visited an old man with Alzheimer's there, Marco remembered that David's uncle had Alzheimer's and figured that was his uncle, they went to David's uncle's house, and then Marco got a call from David telling him where to meet, completely independently of them being at David's uncle's house. Marco could have spent a few hours searching AshleyMadison.com and nothing would have changed; he still would have gotten that phone call. Maybe some of the scavenger hunt will come into play later, but for now, it seems like wasted time. And when a TV show spends a large chunk of an episode on such an empty plot, it usually means the series was a little thin on content and needed a little more time to incubate. Maybe The Bridge revealed the identity of the killer a few episodes too early? Just a thought.
Before we get back to David, we have to visit our intrepid members of the press. After an absence last week, Daniel and Adriana returned to the show and Daniel returned to his best friend Alkie Hall. Drunk Daniel told Adriana all about his connection to David and Santi Jr.: Six years ago he and Santi ran out of blow, and Santi was the driver who crashed into David's wife's car, killing her and her son. I thought Adriana would be more surprised, but instead she focused on Daniel's alcoholism and recommended he attend an AA meeting with her the next morning. They went, and even though I really liked the teary introduction Daniel gave—I love Matthew Lillard in this role, btw—it was another case of "Where is this going?" Alcoholism is no joke, and getting help should always be commended, but compared to the stakes of Marco and Sonya's hunt for Gus, Daniel's AA meeting felt like back-burner stuff.
Well, at least until Daniel went outside for a smoke break. Let's get back to talking about how amazing David is as a serial-torturer-and-occasional-murderer, because he showed up in the parking lot of the AA meeting, injected Daniel in the neck with what I assume was sleepy serum, and kidnapped him! David Tate is working OVERTIME. He spent all night crashing into Sonya's car and hauling Gus away, the wee hours of the morning stuffing Gus into his torture barrel and setting the water at just the right dribble so as not to kill him too fast, and then he made it out to the parking lot of an AA meeting that started at 7am (Daniel said it was about 20 minutes after 8am when he spoke, so he we probably left the building shortly after that). Hank may have been concerned that Marco wasn't getting enough sleep, but did anyone think about David? If he doesn't nab some shuteye, he might fall asleep right in the middle of pulling out the pin of his next grenade!
Let's fast forward to the end of the episode, when David called his meeting with Marco. Again, Marco couldn't kill David or even grievously maim him because David and his knowledge of Gus's torture barrel are in complete control. After some back-and-forth blaming, David told Marco that the next step in his game was for Marco to get in the car and David was going to drive them somewhere. We still don't know where Daniel is, but I assume he's in David's trunk drooling on himself. David did ask Marco if he had his gun, and said "good" when Marco confirmed he did, so I'm thinking that gun is in play somehow. Will he force Marco to kill Daniel or himself in order to free Gus in some weird game of "someone needs to take responsibility for Caleb's death?" Find out next week on David Tate's Wheel... Of... Torture!
Oh and while all this was happening, apparently Carl's will was being read and Charlotte got hosed. She ended up with the house and the land—which isn't a bad haul, but Carl's daughter Kate got the money, the cars, and the art. Ray had the right idea, though; that tunnel under the ranch could be worth more than anything else if it's used right. Of course, that would require someone who's competent to be in charge, and Charlotte and Ray aren't my idea of savvy business people. Later, Ray and Charlotte went to meet Tim (not Tim Cooper, Patrick Swayze's brother Tim) to talk about those pesky bugs that were in the guns that Ray shipped to Graciela. Tim said they were ATF bugs, and Charlotte shot him to death despite Ray's protests and Tim's great story about how they shared an RV together to go to prom. An RV to prom? That's... awesome. But killing Tim was a dumb move. Now the ATF will know their informant is dead and oh gee, who will they suspect? Charlotte probably should've taken a Mexican vacation (free transport through the tunnel!) for as long as possible and let the heat die down. But nope, she shot Tim. On the plus side, there's only one Tim left in the show and that's fine with me, I was sick of hearing my name called all the time.
"Old Friends" took The Bridge further into simple-minded slasher-movie territory, and I don't see that changing. But then again, the show has already changed so many times, from political think piece to abstract and weird police show to serial-killer fright-fest, so maybe another mutation is right around the corner? I'm not sure I can take another episode of running around and playing David's games without a major development in the case.
THE BORDER BETWEEN THE STORY AND THE NOTES
– Fun with subtitle screencaps! Nice story, Marco.
– If you wanna get technical, Marco is only indirectly responsible for the deaths of David's wife and son. Yet David has singled out Marco as the object of his vengeance. There are actually several other people who are just as much to blame, if not more so, including David's wife, Santi Jr., Daniel, and David himself. Heck, we can probably even throw some blame on David's son Caleb. Maybe he wanted an ice cream or was a pain to get out of the house on that fateful night, which affected the timing of David's wife's car being on the bridge. The point is, David's eye-for-an-eye justice feels a bit misplaced. David's wife is dead due to an unfortunate confluence of unusual circumstances—Daniel and Santi Jr. ran out of coke, David's wife had a case of the hornies, Marco happened to live where he lived—as opposed to any direct act, making it harder to validate David's quest for payback. I'm not saying we should root for the guy. I do not support murder or torture! But when a killer has a strong reason for going on a death spree, it makes for better drama. This elaborate torture plan is awesome to watch from an entertainment standpoint, but I can't take it seriously as I'd like to.
– There was no Cesar, either. No Cesar OR Linder.
– Did anyone else think Sonya was screwed when Marco left her behind at the house without a gun? I figured (and hoped) that David was giving Marco a false location so that he could swoop in and kidnap Sonya, perhaps to give another torture device a whirl.
– Charlotte: "A curve up my ass ball." W-w-w-w-w-what?
– Daniel: "12 steps can suck my dick." Adriana and I disagree... I LOVE drunk Daniel.
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