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Wednesday 10:00 PM on FX

The Bridge S01E03: "Rio"

Help! I can't decide if I like The Bridge or not! I mean, is this a great show? Is it even a good show? Is it somewhere in between? We're only three episodes in, but I've already changed my opinion on The Bridge probably a thousand times. One minute I'll be leaning in toward my television, nose practically pressed against the screen. A few scenes later, I'm counting ceiling tiles.

I didn't invade my TV's personal space much while watching this week's episode "Rio," a rather uneventful and at times perplexing hour of television, but I did squeeze in some decent tile-counting. The Bridge is in absolutely no hurry to tell its story, but past episodes have found ways to keep things interesting: the broad big-picture view of "Calaca," told from the perspective of a group of illegal immigrants; and the settling into this world of the pilot. But "Rio" was much more of a straightforward cop case, transforming The Bridge's identity once again. 

And I think that's a problem I'm having with the show. I understand The Bridge wants to be Traffic and The Wire (and that's okay) and have a wacky lady at its center like Homeland does, but it needs a sense of its own individuality. I'm still waiting for it to show me something more original than just its awesome setting on the Texas-Mexico border. I want this show to slap me in the face. I want The Bridge to be able to take place anywhere in the world and have it be just as good because of a unique tone or interesting characters, but so far, the main attraction of The Bridge is its location. And if you take that away, The Bridge is a pretty good police thriller. But there's so much television out there that pretty good just doesn't stand out anymore.

This week, Sonya and Marco sorted through the pile of dead bodies (Hey, it's Ricin again! This kind was the fast-acting version as opposed to Walter White's 48-hour poison) from "Calaca" and noticed that one was missing. From there, the two eventually (and probably errantly) interrogated creepy Steven Linder, suspecting he had the missing girl and that he's been slicing people in half and leaving them on the border after someone was strangled in his apartment building. It's easy to see why they think he's the killer, I mean, those mutton chops, right? But while he's definitely up to some strange stuff, are we even considering him as a suspect still? Isn't he just a freaky guy who likes to wash his feet in a bucket, massage his scars, and occasionally stuff a Mexican woman in his trunk and drag her into America?

Depending on your levels of suspicion of Linder, the interrogation was either riveting or another pitfall of the television murder mystery: we're not solving this case three episodes into the first season. But it did finally tie in Linder to Sonya and Marco. And even if Linder isn't the killer, and I'm almost certain he's not because he's not nearly smart enough, seeing him sweat under Marco's bad-cop routine was interesting because he's such a weirdo character. And because The Bridge sets out to show how the border and both sides of the law affect all the people around it, I don't know if he's quite as red as other red herrings (The Killing comes to mind). But he, and the whole situation, still smells fishy.

Also being welcomed into the fold was Charlotte Millright, the widow whose rich hubby croaked and left her with a mansion-ranch and all his old business partnerships. And I'm going to throw it all out there and be blunt: I did not like how she connected to Marco (and Sonya). At first, it made sense. The killer told Daniel Frye that he wanted a million bucks for the missing girl, the responsibility of which was divided among four wealthy El Paso businessmen. And one of those businessmen? Carl Millright, Charlotte's dead piggy bank. That's a pretty decent way to bring Charlotte into the main narrative, but it was what happened next that threw me.

Marco went to Charlotte's to get a signature saying she never gave money to Marco back in the pilot when he let her ambulance pass, and then suddenly she's wrapping her legs around him and tasting what he had for dinner. I get that recent widows can be in a weird emotional place after their husbands pass, but did this feel like it came out of nowhere for anyone else? And how disappointing was it to see Marco accept the kiss and, based on Charlotte's nightie, take Charlotte all the way to the finish line? Especially after all his talk about his wife and the fact that she's pregnant. I guess we don't know this guy as well as we thought we did. Maybe we're supposed to be shocked by it. Maybe this is to establish his infidelity so that he and Sonya can have sex and then look at body parts on her iPad. But given the fact that Marco and Charlotte met each other before and showed very little signs of attraction to each other, their boinking confused the hell out of me and made me like both characters a lot less. Does he really need to test the limits of that botched vasectomy again already?

Meanwhile, our killer was busier than anyone else and was the mysterious man who picked up the missing girl from the side of the road at the end of "Calaca." Missing girl, you probably should have chugged the Ricinade like your buddies, because it's a lot better than being tied up in the Texas desert on Web cam for everyone to see. And good lord is this killer a tech genius or what? First he can shut off the power at the border on his cue, and now he can set up a Web cam in the middle of the desert? I assume that the newspaper's Web site claim of "Live Video" meant that he's streaming video of her cooking under the sun, right? I could barely get a Wi-Fi signal in San Diego last week. If I were the police, I wouldn't be chasing weird guys like Linder, I'd be questioning Radio Shack employees.

"Rio" succeeded in bridging (hee hee) the loose storylines with the main story by putting Linder and Charlotte face-to-face and tongue-to-nether-regions with Sonya and Marco. I don't know if it was what I'd call smooth, though. And after equating the show to The Wire last week and enjoying the separation and the way it showed us the big picture, I don't know if it was even necessary to tie them together.

The Bridge is still finding its footing three episode into its first season, but it's going to have to make some big footprints pretty soon. "Rio" was probably the weakest of the episodes so far. As a look at a fascinating area of the globe, it works. As a hunt for a serial killer, it merely does the job.



THE BORDER BETWEEN THE STORY AND THE NOTES

– Would a newspaper Web site actually show footage of a woman tied up in the desert to die? Isn't there some sort of policy against that? 

– I'm really liking Matthew Lillard as Daniel Frye. And that guy has some cojones doing bumps of fun powder in a police station. 

– I don't think the Juarez Tourism Board is a fan of this show. That shooting in broad daylight was something else. And then Adriana ran home to file a story on it. But did she talk to anyone at the scene or just leave? What was the story? "Man gets shot"? 

– The advanced screener I saw actually used the music from Traffic, did the broadcast version? I can't help but think the show wants to mimic Traffic and The Wire instead of being its own show. And adding Traffic music doesn't alleviate that.

– The most interesting story right now has to be Carl Millright's past business partners, the big one of whom we met in that Hispanic woman. And she knew how to send a message by killing that poor horsie. Godfather-esque. I guess Charlotte is sort of like Catherine Zeta Jones' character from Traffic, with the dead husband and unfinished business, but dealing with human trafficking instead of drugs?

– What did everyone think about Sonya's bed romp showing up at her work to ask for her number? That seemed a bit odd. Not only did she treat the guy like a piece of meat, but she's a cop. I know she's a hottie, but would you want to walk into a police station to get the number of a woman with a social handicap who looked at pictures of a corpse when you should have been snuggling? Red flags galore!


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 7/30/2014

Season 2 : Episode 4

Next Episode

AIRS ON 8/6/2014

Season 2 : Episode 5

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