“You will be like me” says the man with a bomb vest on to his prisoner/comrade. David Tate lost everything when his wife and son were killed in a hit and run on the Bridge of Americas. It was one bad night for the former FBI agent. The idea that his master plan was just one big riff on the idea put forth in The Killing Joke (later co opted by The Dark Knight), that all it takes is one bad day and next thing you know you’re either The Joker or Batman, is an interesting justification for Tate’s actions, and those of the myriad master serial killers on TV. Clearly turned into the Joker of this story he intends to take the not so upstanding detective Ruiz and bring him down to his level. From another point of view, however, Tate wasn’t looking to continue some psychotic cycle of vengeance. He was looking to reconnect and make a new friend. After the crash Ruiz admits that he drifted apart from Tate. After the night those two were going to spend on the Bridge, if everything had gone according to plan, Ruiz and Tate would be the same heartless human beings and Tate would have his friend back.
I must admit, the previews for this weeks episode made it look rather big and dumb. Tate with his bomb vest on the bridge holding Marco and Daniel Frye hostage, it was boisterous in a way this show hasn’t been. The marketing material gave the appearance of some 24style final episodes. That was a show all about the larger plot machinations and then its effects on the characters once it was all over. Everything about The Bridge has been deeply personal. It was a nice bit of misdirection. The events on the bridge while important and appearing to be the central point of tension were not all that important or tense. To Demian Bichir’s credit “Take the Ride, Pay the Toll” had me going that Marco might pull the trigger on Daniel Frye.
During one of the many times Frye has a gun pointed at him, the recovering drug addict quietly says “I’m Sorry.” As if those two words would do anything to dissuade Tate from his plans. The Bridge cares more about it’s characters actions than the words they say. No matter how hard Marco protested and apologized, Alma still kicked him out of the house for that period of time. Daniel Frye has done nothing to physically make up for his poor decisions except drink and snort himself into a haze. His attempts at AA haven’t even begun to show and this isn’t exactly the most optimistic show.
The marketing materials were right in that they conveyed the a sense of tension that would be found in this episode. The tension was just in another place. It was with Sonya and her search for Gus. Would she reach him in time. I joked to my mother that I would be rather angry if this turned into that episode of The Following where Kevin Bacon arrives just a couple minutes to late (and doesn't even really try to resuscitate) one of his fellow agents .None of this would have worked as well if it wasn’t for Carlos Pratts’ performance in the preceding episodes. He really did a lot with a little. Turning a small bit part into something with a bit of nuance. Seeing the awkward shy side of Gus, in contrast to his fathers machismo, paired with the knowing gruff responses he would give his father about all his problems. That relationship felt lived in, in a way none of Jack Bauer’s ever did. Kim’s death in season 1 was an unexpected emotional gut punch that came out of nowhere. As an audience we never really got a chance to bond with the character we just saw what was the last 24 hours of her life. It was a loss contextualized by Keifer Sutherlands acting as he held his dead onscreen wife. The offscreen death of Gus hurts much deeper. We’d actually gotten a chance to see him and connect.
Sonya Cross is very Spock-like in her methodical attention to detail and way of doing things. There was a robotic consistency to her character that gave you a sense of hope that she would find Gus. She finds Gus, what appeared to be a quasi POV shot of Gus underwater turns out to be just a low angle shot. It was such a quick shot and then it cut to commercial break. What was the state of Gus? When she’s running onto the bridge to tell Marco how could you not be filled with hope that Gus was alive? It would save Marco from killing Tate and 9.5 times out of 10 shows don’t kill characters. The villains final efforts would be for not and the good guys would win the day.
Shows don’t let their Superman be just a split second late. The idea that the hero is late to save their person is still a card not many film or series play. Making it still very shocking when it does happen. Even if by now you are trained to expect it just a lil in the back of your mind. It’s an expectation that was toyed with a little as Sonya is saying “Yes” Gus is alive, the normally very truthful to a fault Sonya Cross. Until Tate remarks about how bad she is at lying and you remember her lie by omission last episode. The robotic and consistent Sonya can’t be expected anymore. It was a moment that worked spectacularly on me and those watching. The ones around me erupting into nervous denial and questioning. After Sonya shoots the two of them in the leg and you hear Bichir wail the cry of only someone who has lost a family member does it really sink in. Just because of the amount of content I consume, there was this feeling in the back of my mind that those cuts to Gus in the barrel weren’t in sync to everything else. Maybe it was just an editing trick to give the appearance of Linearity ala Saw 2. Who knows, either way Gus Ruiz is still laying on a slab in the morgue. Being cradled by his father.
The audio of Maco crying out is the type of stuff you would smash cut to black on. End the episode in total despair, emotional response acquired. There was still 10 minutes left of “Take the Ride, Pay the Toll”. With both Marco and Tate down the episode goes into a slow silent montage that just gave everything such deathly stillness. There was movement and action but no sound it’s like they were all sleepwalking. The use of montage and a lower frame rate to create a sense of stillness carried over once things snapped back in focus. Everyone is moving at normal speed but they aren’t quite there. If anything the minutes after the montage were deader than the ones in montage.
A cople of weeks ago I wondered how this show would extend it’s final act across 4 episodes. It got 2 episodes out of it. The seasonal case is closed Tate has been arrested, that’s where you hit the lights right? Evidently not as there are two more episodes left. I don’t even know what’s going to happen next.