With the revelations surrounding Kenneth Hastings/David Tate the end game for The Bridge is clearly set. At the same time “The Beetle” attempts to move some of it’s more worldly plots into some kind of endgame. Balancing a taut thriller with Stephen Linder dealing with his “special feelings” for Eva. It doesn't make for the thrillist of thrillers but was an overall enjoyable episode. After seeing this show try and fight against the conventions of the murder mystery seeing them give in fully to it was interesting.
If there was any doubt David Tate was out Beast his apartment gave him away. Whereas Jack Childress’s place was the workings of a messy madman who was all bark and a little bite. Tate’s apartment is serial killer/mad bomber 101. It must have taken him some time to figure it all out, about Marco and his wife along with his Moriarty plan. That gave him plenty of time to rig his entire apartment and building to blow. I’m not going to say that is a healthy outlet for one's anger but he definitely found an outlet. You have to love Det. Tim Cooper (aka mustache and hat cop) refusing to go inside Tate’s little bunker. He would have had to take off his hat for that.
Much was also revealed on how Tate managed to stay so involved and head of the cops: by using Gus. Somehow gaining his old friend Xena’s phone number and impersonating her for who knows how long. It’s an unknowing act of collusion that Gus doesn't fully realize after running into the real Xena. It is also almost one Marco doesn't realize until the cooler head of Hank intervenes. Even when they try and use new found information to their advantage Tate has a back up plan (of course). It might even have been his plan all along to just give Gus the GPS coordinates. On the page the character of Gus, played by Carlos Pratts, hasn’t really gotten that much to do arcwise. He is slowly working towards a better understanding of his father, one David Tate helped with. I wouldn’t be nearly as taken with this side character if it weren’t for Pratts performance. He is just so good at looking like a lost sad puppy, if one were to distil his entire look into a dog metaphor.
In general this show has done an excellent job with making side characters feel important or meaningful. Which is why I legitimately thought Marco was going to discover the shack in the desert painted red with Alma bits in a corner. It’s why Tate’s mirrored hit and run had me thinking Gus was dead like the murderer's own son.
At first blush the idea of simply locking Alma and her kids in an isolated shack, with Alma holding a grenade, didn’t seem that evil or like the other intricate moves Tate has made in previous episodes. There is a simplicity to it that is a bit refreshing. With no need to mask his presence and with his goal in site Tate went with the simplest route. Most of the time a villain like him would have created some Jigsaw-esque trap to torture victim and true victims alike. A grenade without its pin does that job for him. Besides I don’t think he ever intended on having Alma and her girls actually die. He gave up the GPS coordinates as soon as he realized the cops were on him. They were just another bit of misdirection to mask his true motive: kidnapping Gus.
For as straightforward as the plotting of the main arc is there is still plenty of interesting imagery to go with it. The cold open, which finishes up the flashback started in last week's episodes, is nearly silent as David Tate discovers the brutal death of his wife and child. The sound isn’t totally gone just extremely quiet and slowed down. Matching the same kind of temporal slowness in the psychologically driven cinematography that follows actor Eric Lange. Slowly but surely all hope is lost and Tate falls into despair as all the flashing lights bounce off of him. Giving everything a psychedelic vibe. After the credits things turn to a present day crime scene as Marco and Sonya work through all that they have just discovered. The lights flashing off them almost hypnotizing you into not noticing their presence. The tight facial framingis only brken when Marco’s real boss comes to chastise him for being wrong about the killer. Pointing out that killing “Indio trash” is one thing but killing Santi Jr. is another and that the two would end up cleaning toilets in prison if this isn’t closed fast. That interlude between Marco and Sonya’s conversation was the first hint that writer Elwood Reid might not have the best understanding of how to cut away from a plot in order to raise tensions.
While searching through Tate’s rigged apartment there is once again some nice segmented or portaled imagery as Sonya peers threw a magnifying glass to see Tate’s collection of beeds from his wife's necklace. Like all things becoming clearer now those beeds didn’t have just any all cuts on them. They make a rose.
This show better get a second season. And no it’s not because of the need to explore the buddy dynamics of Marco-Sonya and Danielle-Adriana. It’s because of what Charlotte Millwright does in “The Beetle” (never thought I’d write anything close to that). A vengeful Graciela attacks Charlotte in a quest to find Ray. Staring down the blade of a razor the always helpful Caesar comes in with his shotgun and takes care of business. Before Graciela begins to emasculate him verbally.Taking her eye off the ball was a mistake as Charlotte runs her through with a pitchfork, for once gaining some kind of agency. In the aftermath as the two cartel murders staring into the rather deep grave Charlotte wonders what happens next. “Hopefully nothing.” a tired Caesar opines “I’m going to take my wife to a movie and pretend none of this ever happened.” Caesar with the compartmentalization skills. With Graciela out of the way and the FBI likely on her backs it leaves Charlotte in a precarious position she does not fully understand. She talks about running things differently now but it all might be for not. Best of all next season this opens up for more Fausto Galvan interaction!
If anyone is set to make it out of this show “better off” it might be Stephen Linder. The lonely coyote is working on coming to terms about his “special feelings” towards Eva. These feelings aren’t totally sexual in nature a fair bit of them are guilt for killing her boyfriend. Thomas M. Wright’s highly affected preformance made this scene work so beautifully.
Man there are still four episodes left. I thought next weeks was the finale.