The Bridge "Old Friends" Review: David Tate's Wheel O' Torture

By Tim Surette

Sep 12, 2013

The Bridge S01E10: "Old Friends"

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 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.


– 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.

  • Comments (83)
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  • sangbaran Sep 17, 2013

    Following the season intently...and praying it gets renewed.

  • Mate Sep 16, 2013

    Ok so when I left this show it was a taut, suspenseful serial killer drama with undertones of politics and grievances of putting more worth in the death of some over others. That was going to be a great show. I take a few few weeks off and it is a revenge driven serial killer with delusions of grandeur and a overwhelming desire to punish the man that he blames for the death of his wife and child.

    I caught up with the past few episodes and I have to say even though they deviated from what I originally thought was the concept of the show. I still think this show is genius. I almost don't want Tate to get caught because crazy Tate is fun. The show is fun. Ray went down on Graciella, Charlotte killed her and then Tim. This show is hilariously cavalier about death and what they built up in the mind of their viewers at the beginning. It is great. However I would think that he would blame Daniel as much if not more than he blames Marco. I mean he just killed Daniel's buddy that ran into them. He hasn't really done anything to daniel and he nearly killed Alma and the girls and is about to kill Gus, who to be honest I wouldn't miss. This seems like he is overcompensating.

    The greatest line of the last episode was when Tate poked fun at Sonya and thusly the viewers who believed that there was something more political and meaningful in his motives. But nope, he is just crazy. Genius.

    Not what I originally thought, in fact I kind of regret some of my theories. But I still love the show.

  • Abelak Sep 15, 2013

    Speaking of padding, unless the stream I watched was incomplete, previously-on included, this episode clocked in at about 37 minutes. There was definitely room for some Linder action in there. I think someone just fell asleep at the computer the night before their deadline and forgot an act.

    Still enjoying the show, but yeah, it's pretty weird. There were some gorgeous shots of the desert though.

  • julianwiley Sep 15, 2013

    Call me optimistic, but I really think the show's season finale will lay out the bridge-as-metaphor theme to my satisfaction. And I like the annoying characters on the show -- sometimes a show this intense needs a comedic break once in a while. So I say keep Ray, Daniel and Charlotte's daughter-in-law aka "faux Sammy Jo".

  • Vicky8675309 Sep 14, 2013

    loved this episode and love the show...already said what I wanted to in the replies to comments below. Also I didn't miss Cesar or Linder in this episode but at least Linder is interesting whereas Cesar is just a laborer who follows orders of The Boss. Cesar is no criminal mastermind.

  • andreweather Sep 13, 2013

    Will someone pop a cap in Ray already? Dude is getting on my tits something serious.

  • Kerkesh Sep 13, 2013

    Just to change the mood.

  • Kerkesh Sep 13, 2013

    This is the episode where every major character came to their own.

    I think this is the episode that Sonya became a full human being. She cried for the first time, real altruistic tears that she had let her partner down. I wanted to hug her hard.
    Her leaving her bed still hurt and wounded is another mark of her regained humanity, because she understood vicerally that finding Gus was not only important for Marco,'s sanity and welfare, but to her own closure with her sister's death. While she had spent all the previous episodes aloof and technical, giving a ore practical and clinical response to her partnership with Marco, always very proper and legal (not handing him a gun); here we saw her all emotional: she gave Marco the sanest and best advice anyone can give a person in complete collapse, to the point of telling him that killing Tate will send him to prison (which was the same conandrum that Linden did not follow in The Killing this season).

    Marco was reduced to his balls and if we thought he had more substance, we were clearly shown we were wrong. I think this is the first time in a prime time tv show series when a sympathetic hero becomes clearly unsympathetic, in fact forget the "sym", just pathethic. In the original series, the equivalent character was somewhat spared; but here his failure is unrelentless. He has sinned. In the perspective taken by the series, this is not a sin against God, against his family, or even against his best friend. His sin is a sin we unfortunaetely encounter more and more in our society; it is the sin of indifference. He could not really care about his son, or his wife, or that he was hurting his best friend. It was not even narcissism ( which is Daniel's sin) but an absence of Being. Essentially, he has lived a life where he saw no consequences for his actions not out of callousness or blindness, but because the environment of the Mexican existential wasteland became his.
    Daniel realized in this episode that he is Marco's American counterpart. What destroyed Marco has destroyed Daniel. In a society that has in great part encouraged excess through consumerism ( made famous by the Scandinavian Thorstein Veblen, btw) and the double standard that the wealthy have in the USA. Except that Daniel partook of this excess but was never part of it and thus his destruction is inevitable.
    Charlotte was never a meek character. Her reaction to the dead horse and the way she is smart enough to want someone else to carry the dire responsibility of the tunnel makes clear. I think most of us suspected that there was more to her and her use of pitchforks and guns kind of nudge us towards confirmation. I think she is the most surprising character because I can see her becoming the Big Baddie, because she is starting to like killing people in view of her lack of compunction in carrying it through. She looks normal whaen she deals with Ceasar, but all her other relations; mostly fucking Marco and Ray questions us to her integrity .
    Btw, did anyone notice that charlotte and Ray met and killed in almost the replica of the picture Officer Faceless saw in his dentist's office?

  • klotensen Sep 15, 2013

    Very good, I just want to raise a feeble voice not to abandon Marco entirely.
    Sure it looks bad for him now, but for Charlotte it didn't look much better either a couple of episodes ago. I agree with everything you wrote BUT there is more to Marco than it seems now. Just a feeling. (I don't know The Bridge and how much The Bridge US is closely following it, so I could be totally wrong about this, like with the prison guard lol)

  • Kerkesh Sep 15, 2013

    Of course there is more for Marco: redemption. This why he has let Sonya behind and virtually is giving himself up to Marco; but not totally. This is not suicide on his part, he is still striving to find his son; but is at the same time accepting punishment. We are here entering phase three of The Bridge ; the quest for Gus.

  • Vicky8675309 Sep 14, 2013

    you summed it up perfectly!

    All along people have been so pro-marco and anti-charlotte...they continue to hold those views which surprises me. I was never a big Marco fan--everyone trashed Charlotte for having sex (and sonya) but Charlotte wasn't married and Marco is married. Marco comes off as weak, stupid and pathetic. Charlotte comes off as badass with a potential to be the boss of a huge criminal enterprise.

    Now that you mention it, yes the scene where Charlotte killed Tim was reminiscent of the picture in the dentist's office. I wonder if anyone has screenshots of them.

  • klotensen Sep 15, 2013

    Liking Marco + hating Charlotte = Liking Jesse + hating Walter;
    Well almost, I'm bad at this.
    Whatever it keeps me baffled all the same. It shouldn't be reverse though: I just like all of them because they are interesting characters, it's just that Charlotte has become a lot more interesting...

  • Vicky8675309 Sep 15, 2013

    Great points!

    In these shows I am rooting for Charlotte (and Sonya--see I can root for "good guys") and Walter. Marco isn't very interesting (just a little interesting) and whiny Jesse & rat Jesse annoy me. That is what is so great about fictional shows/films/books, you can root for "the bad guys" whereas IRL you want the "bad guys" locked up. True about them being interesting (I'm on the fence about Marco) and Charlotte becoming a lot more interesting. I knew the gal had it in her;-)

  • Kerkesh Sep 15, 2013

    Also, don't forget that Charlotte has but the tunnel as financial asset as the daughter got everything else from her dad.She has no choice but to go ahead and become a criminal or turn into an uncertain poor life .

  • computerfix3r Sep 13, 2013

    I think my wife laughed at me when I jumped up after Charlotte shot Tim and I shouted, Shoot Ray PLEASE Shoot Ray for God's SAKE!!!!!! I sat back down and said darn when she didn't shoot him. Oh well, time to go yell at another show. OUAT is getting closer and I can always yell at it.

  • Muderboy Sep 13, 2013

    I do question nutball Tate's revenge motives and the wheel of torture needs to get somewhere, and fast. That said, I love this show. Also, Charlotte is a real badass and we might need Scandal's Quinn to come down and straighten her out. Also, Daniel is a douche, drunk or sober, so why are folks still talking to him?

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