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FX (ended 2014)

The Bridge S01E08: "Vendetta"

BIG FAT SPOILERS AHEAD so if you didn't watch "Vendetta" yet then don't read on.

I KNEW IT! Okay, I didn't. The Bridge took one giant leap towards getting this whole "who is the killer?" thing out of the way by very clearly laying out exactly who the killer was instead of peppering us with potential perpetrators. The killer is... Tim Cooper! JK LOL it's that creepy beardy guy that none of us ever trusted in the first place. And it explained why the killer has been so quiet recently. He's had his hands full trying to get into Alma's pants, which I totally get. 

A couple immediate thoughts with this whopper of a revelation:

– I'm super impressed that the show revealed who the killer was eight episodes into the first season instead of at the end of Episode 11 or 12. That leaves five episodes to catch the guy, arraign him, get a trial date, put him in a courtroom, convict him, go through the proper channels of giving him the death penalty, and injecting him with super sleepy juice. But I will settle for just catching the guy. I'm curious how this show will manage to remain interesting with five episodes of chasing, provided Season 1 encompasses this case. 

– David Tate/Kenneth Hastings was never even on my radar as a possible suspect. He was just the gross guy who had no business even breathing the same air as Alma because she's way out of his league. So congratulations, The Bridge, you fooled me. I'm sure some of you had him in your pools as the killer. Those who did, treat yourselves to a pat on the back.

But the question remains: was it a satisfying reveal? I'm pretty split on this. As I said before, finding out the identity of the killer was never a huge priority for me. I'd prefer to soak up the backdrop of bordertown Mexico and smell my television for street tacos. On the other hand, CASE PROGRESS! You gotta love it when a murder investigation moves forward instead of winds around and circles back to the start. But one thing I loved about the killer was that he stood for something, namely, the disparity in justice and order between America and Mexico and America's indifferent attitude to the atrocities in Mexico. This was the kind of murderer I can get behind! A murderer with purpose! A murderer who made his kills count and let everyone in the world know exactly why he killed these people! Hooray for you, murderer! 

Now? This David Tate guy is killing people... for personal reasons. He killed handsome and suave Santi Jr. because Santi Jr. was the man behind the wheel of the hit-and-run that killed his wife and kid. And now everything else comes together; he wants to expose Marco as a sketchy cop because Marco slept with his wife (apparently there's no "eye for an eye" principle since he slept with Marco's wife). He's also involving Daniel Frye probably because he was an associate of Santi Jr. And I'd bet he didn't like his former partner Gedman for reasons other than Gedman's penchant for cross-border prostitutes.

Taking things to a personal level kind of kills the twisted romanticism behind The Bridge Butcher's politics, doesn't it? He's no longer crusading for something, he's just an angry white guy who wants to get back at the people who done him wrong. Maybe he's giving multi-tasking murdering a shot, I don't know. The point is, one of the most attractive tenants of The Bridge, the specter of a serial killer with a political agenda, has been evicted, and it's now a one step forward, one step back situation.

One other side effect of naming David Tate as the killer is a change in focus and magnification for The Bridge. The ghost of the killer didn't just hang over the characters, it hung over the show itself. The heart of The Bridge was this wackjob's manifesto. When Marco and Sonya harped on and on about "everything is connected" for the first half of the season, it made sense on a macro level that made The Bridge unique. Everything was bigger than Marco and Sonya. The Bridge Butcher killed a judge that made controversial decisions in cases, he wanted to expose dirty cops, he wondered why hundreds of brown-skinned girls could die but one gringa gets her head cut off and everyone loses their shit. Now the connectivity is zoomed in on a micro level. Seducing Alma (and perhaps plotting to kill her, we'll see) has nothing to do with bordertown and cultural differences, it's about getting back at the guy who was indirectly responsible for the deaths of David Tate's wife and kids, not to mention the guy who was ram-rodding his wife. It's about "if I'm going to feel pain, I'm going to make others feel pain, too." It's a far cry from the lofty purpose we were led to believe was his initial motive, which formed the backbone of The Bridge. When David Tate killed Santi Jr. with the worst men's bathroom conversation ever, he also killed a lot of the thematic essence of The Bridge

A lot of these previous paragraphs may sound like the expansiveness of The Bridge is lost, and on an immediate level, that's true. But the series still has plenty of ideas working outside of the case to retain a broader look at border problems. We still have Charlotte and her love tunnel, Ray playing the part of dumb white guy who thinks he can reach into Mexico's criminal cookie jar without getting caught, Galvan as everybody's nightmare (literally for Linder), and–thank god–the adventures of Linder the wayward mush mouth. But with the case taking priority in "Vendetta," none of these stories moved forward a whole lot. 

Those guns that Ray wanted from his buddy Tim? They arrived. And yes, they were bugged, as Graciela found out. Charlotte is only now having second thoughts on bringing Ray back into her life and letting him manage the business, even after we all waved our arms and tried to warn her. Charlotte isn't exactly a smart one. Adriana went to a party, but she's still a lesbian. And Linder, who I usually love to spend a whole paragraph on, was having wet dreams about sexy Latinas who need rescuing that get interrupted by Galvan's evil grin. However, I'm betting those are some of Linder's more normal dreams, if his bizarre lifestyle is any indication. All this confusion caused Linder to take an unannounced sabbatical from his job, leaving poor old Darcy to work an unexpected double. A lot of these sidestories were pretty straight forward in "Vendetta," and try as I might, I couldn't find anything surprising or of particular importance in them. We're just moving the chains here.

"Vendetta" was a critical episode of The Bridge as far as the main case was concerned. We have ourselves a killer! But his motive seemed to change, and it was that motive that drew me to him in the first place. I'm trying to look into the future and get an idea of how we'll all look back on The Bridge when Season 1 is finished. I'm foreseeing a series that ambled through a sometimes clumsy first season but also showed triumphant moments of stepping out of a well-worn genre. Lots of growing pains but lots of potential as well, an idea summed up with "Vendetta."


– I loved the opening scene with Daniel partying it up in a strip club with Santi Jr., and fitting that piece into the overall puzzle later. But one question: why did Daniel look so interested in leaving the strip club when Santi Jr. drove off? He had some agenda going on that didn't involve snorting coke off a stripper's ass.

– Pretty theatrical vomiting there, Marco!

– I was catching up on Top of the Lake earlier this week, and would like everyone to know that you can see Linder's penis in it if you really wanted to know what was underneath those tighty whiteys. Just doing a public service announcement.

– As much as I enjoyed the pursuit of Jack Childress in "Destino," in hindsight it was all for show as he became a Red Herring. But at least The Bridge didn't drag it out and gave us plenty of reason to believe he wasn't The Bridge Butcher.

– Will someone buy Gus a copy of She's Just Not That Into You? Seeing him act out his schoolboy crush on Sonya is painful.

– All my talk about David Tate as the killer only applies if he's definitely the killer. He IS the killer, right? We've been misled before, but this one seems so concrete that it would take some form of voodoo or astronimical level of terrible television writing to be otherwise.

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