The Bridge, Season 1 Episode 13 recap

I’m not sure I’ve seen a more frustrating first season than that of The Bridge. It started out so promising, with a serial killer mystery and a gruesome crime set in a fascinating and complicated environment, starring a cast of intriguing characters. But then Serial Killer Doug turned out to be David F*cking Tate (but maybe not?) and the show didn’t pull out of its nosedive until the last few episodes, but by then it was too late. All my goodwill was drained away by stupid David Tate.

In and of itself, though, this was an excellent episode. Makes sense—it was directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton, who directed the season’s best episode, “The Beast” (#5). Like that episode, it pitted the interests of Sonya and Marco against those of a law enforcement agency (substituting the Juarez police for the FBI), as well as involving Creepy Steven, Cub Report and Matthew Lillard, and even Rich Widow in meaningful ways. Also: Lyle Lovett!

But this was also frustrating because everything this episode sets up is way more interesting than anything that happened involving David Tate. Marco and Sonya are back on the trail of the missing girls of Juarez, BY FAR the most interesting thing The Bridge ever did, and they’re united with Creepy Steven in his quest to find Eva. That’s an uneasy partnership with more potential than anything else, even the unlikely friendship between Cub Reporter and Matthew Lillard. And poor Eva, beat to sh*t and taken out to the desert to die, but the Juarez cop sent to dispose of her instead hides her at an old convent. Of course that gets him killed, which suggests that despite their best efforts to hide her, someone—probably Fausto Galvan—is aware that Marco and Sonya smuggled Eva out of the country. But at least Creepy Steven was able to reunite with her. Somebody got something resembling a happy ending.

This was also the first and only episode I did not completely loathe Matthew Lillard. He’s still an asshole but when framed within his desire to pursue stories, and contrasted to earnest Cub Reporter, he’s tolerable. They introduced two new plotlines for season two, one completely predictable and one a genuine surprise. The predictable came right at the end, as Cub Reporter’s younger sister disappeared from her factory job in Juarez, but the surprise was early in the episode, when a milk run assignment to interview an old lady for being old revealed that she had died and had $65 million in cartel money, including $20 million in Euros, stashed in her house. Now HERE is a good mystery. Who is this old lady? Who did she hold money for? Why Euros? That is so much better than stupid David Tate.

Even Rich Widow’s storyline was engaging. Lyle Lovett returns as the shady lawyer (with a crush on Rich Widow after the casserole stunt), and she’s full-on going into business with Fauston Galvan, with some new creepy guy watching over her shoulder. Shady Ray is obviously going to end up getting murdered for his terminal stupidity, but Cesar is pretty cool. He’s actually one of the more likeable characters on the show, and by contrast he makes Rich Widow somewhat more interesting. If Cesar is so loyal to her, there must be something there. But you can see Shady Ray’s troublemaking coming from a mile away, and that’s the kind of predictability that drains interest out of a show.

We spent half the first season of The Bridge wandering in the David Tate wilderness, and the strong finish feels like too little, too late. I don’t particularly care if Marco gets to kill David Tate, or whatever inevitable hell Shady Ray rains down on Rich Widow and who that new creepy guy really is. I care a little about Cub Reporter’s sister becoming one of the missing girls, I’m mildly interested in Creepy Steven’s revenge rampage, and the mystery of the old woman and the money and the Euros really is intriguing, but I know to get to that, I’m going to have to sit through the rest of it, which pales in comparison. And there’s still that lingering David Tate plot with Marco, and I can’t with that. Which is how I feel about the prospect of The Bridge, season two. I just can’t with that.