I keep expecting for The Bridge to fall into the 24 trap and devolve into plot. When it has briefly flirted with just plot heavy episodes in the past I’ve generally been left wanting. With all the revelations about David Tate and there being no more need for pretense “Old Friends” seemed primed for manhunting action. There is plenty of chasing with little actual ground gained until David Tate allows them to. It’s the emphasis on the physical toll the chase takes on our two heroes that elevates “Old Friends”. That, and, Demian Bichir being a melodramatic emoting machine.
With David Tate out in the open and Gus in his captivity The Bridge really does feel like the final chapter in a season of 24. Everyone is on the hunt trying to make progress always a step or two behind. Only able to pass go once the villain says so. Before making a call and forcing Jack to go off on his own or do something risky. Switch out Jack for Marco Ruiz and that’s what “Old Friends” basically is.
24 however is a taut thriller with fast editing and the technical backend to elicit such a reaction. The Bridge doesn't have the editing or ticking clocks to make everything taut. No they garner reaction by hanging on and not moving forward. Sonya and Marco pull up to the house of Davids Uncle on a lead. Battle damages Sonya gets out of the car and begins to go to work. The camera hangs on Marco who begins to get out of the car but decides on closing it. The camera just hangs there for a couple of seconds longer than most would. Just watching Marco try and will himself on or come to grips with the possibility of losing his son. Likely all at once by the look on his face. After that awkward couple of seconds does the episode finally cut to a new camera showing Sonya come up and knock on the door. Letting the camera hang on Marco for a few seconds more builds a better emotional foundation for the pep talk that follows.
Sonya is getting better at talking to people. Her cold logic actually comes in handy. She can’t say for certain that they will find Gus. That also means Marco can’t say for certain that they won’t find Gus. If it weren’t for Bichir’s performance there would be more talk of Diane Kruger's work this episode. Suffice it to say it continues the tradition of her doing an excellent job. Her blank stares are slowly turning into searching gazes. Searching for the right words to say. Searching for the boxes that will save Gus from drowning.
“It's a strange feeling for a cop, to be powerless," Tate comments to his old friend after directing him to a seemingly random location. Early Marco barked back in terse spanish about what would you have me do, in reply to Hanks questioning his involvement. The concerned and sleep deprived father that he is, Marco’s first actions is to choke his sons kidnapper. Balling up his fists and realizing their uselessness. He can’t do anything if he wants to see his son again. It’s a moment of realization that Bichir shows very well. This whole episode is one big Marco reaction shot. First explaining to Alma why Tate has been targeting them. Running to a fresh grave digging frantically. Giving in a little bit and staying in the car. Then finally realizing his own uselessness when he meets David Tate for the first time in years.
All of this is forcing Marco to confront his past sins, which are back and hurting the innocents around him. Danielle Frye finally decides to own up to his transgressions. Admitting that his need for more coke is the inciting incident for this entire plot. It’s a enough to drive a man to drink (if he wasn’t already doing nose candy). Frye is a complicated character on the outside he is made out to be a sarcastic ass that you kinda love. Dig a little deeper or liquor him up a bit and you find the wounded human underneath. His monologue in AA after being a snarky dick was on the line between mocking the people around him with how generic it all was. You’ve heard that speech before in other media. At the same time there is a level of sincerity to it that gets you to wonder and believe him. Whatever honesty was or wasn’t in there, the speech did nothing to dissuade Tate from jamming some knock out juice in Frye’s neck. Marco’s reaction to seeing Frye’s car implies that he was killed off screen. I sure hope not. Frye is an unsung character on this show and his journalistic profession is the type of thing you’d see leveraged to build the world of The Bridge even more in other seasons.
Tampa Ray is just realizing his current sins and how deep they are leading him. Brian Van Holt has been a nice comedic presence on the show. To bad he found out tonight his story with Charlotte isn’t a fun rom-com featuring too would be drug dealers and their crazy hookup Tim. Nope. Tampa Ray is in a dark crime story. Comically trying to list reasons why he and Charlotte shouldn’t kill Tim. Such as “We used to play kickball together.” With Tim chiming in about how “we took an RV to prom together.” Charlotte doesn't care. The will has been read she has nothing except for the house and its land. The money and everything else go to her would be step-daughter. Definitely not a good day to piss her off. Being an informant for the ATF would make anyone mighty angry and Charlotte shoots Tampa Tim rather poorly. She really isn’t good at killing efficiently, first spearing Graciela now this. It isn’t one to the head two to the chest. More like 3 or for to the vague chest region. Ray isn’t in Tampa anymore and neither is Charlotte with her cold blooded murder.
The Bits At The End
With talk of the ATF last night I continue to call for an Avengers style crossover between Sons of Anarchy The Bridge and Justified. It’d be great.
American Horror Story commercials continue to freak me the F out.